Why Should You Conduct a Michigan LLC Name Search?
One of the first things to do when starting a company in Michigan is to choose a company name and run it through the Michigan corporation search to check if it’s available.
Michigan state has an organized log of Michigan business entities that are active or have dissolved with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
The database is free for all to use and makes it easy for the public to find existing businesses or to look up if their desired Michigan business name is available for use.
Michigan LLC Business Naming Guidelines
The first step is to choose a name for your business. While you get pretty good flexibility when it comes to choosing an LLC name, there are a few Michigan requirements that your company name needs to comply with. Here are the naming guidelines for an LLC:
- Company name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.)
- Company name cannot include words that would confuse the LLC with a government agency such as the FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.
- Restricted words like Bank, Attorney, and University may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
Michigan Business Name Search
If you file your Michigan LLC paperwork with a company name that’s already taken by another or if it doesn’t meet the Michigan naming requirement, your filing will be rejected and you’ll be requested to re-file with a different company name.
To save you the time of reapplying, it’s recommended that you perform a name check via Michigan’s Business Entity Database to make sure that your desired company name is not already taken up by another business.
The name search for Michigan businesses is performed through the Lara Corporations website and are searchable by the following criteria:
- Michigan LLC Entity Name
- Individual Name
- ID Name
- Filing Number
Michigan Business Entity Name Search
The name search filter is the most commonly used method by those who are performing a name availability search. The search function lets you search through its database by “starts with”, “exact match”, “keyword”, or “soundex”. The easiest way to pull out the widest variety of entity names is by using the “Begins With” option as it’ll bring up entity names associated with that particular keyword.
You don’t need to add phrases like LLC, Corp, or other naming designations as the website will bring up the Michigan business names for every type of entity.
If you want to find any Michigan business entity filed by an individual, you can use the individual name filter to pull out all the companies and entities that they’ve filed with the state.
You can enter either a full or last name in the search bar and the results will generate all corporations associated with the resident agent. The individual name search filter will aggregate results based on first or last name so you don’t necessarily need to enter their full name.
To run a Michigan business entity search with an ID number, just enter the desired number into the “Search by Identification Number” and click on search to generate the result.
You can also search for a Michigan business entity by keying in their filing number at the “Search by Filing Number” field and click on search.
Michigan Business Name Search Status
Because there are so many businesses out there, it can get extremely difficult to come up with a business name that’s not already taken. One way to get inspiration and ideas on what your company name could be is to look through the search results list to see if there are any expired names that are suitable for the business.
For example, if you’re planning to open up a new Chinese restaurant, you could try entering “Chinese” into the search bar to see a list of business names with the word “Chinese” in them. From there, you can see if the business name is still active or has expired.
If you do find an expired company name that you would like to use for your business, it’s recommended that you give the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs a call at 517-241-9223 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm the business name’s availability.
Another thing to keep in mind is that although your desired Michigan company name is available, it could have a registered trademark. Hence, running a trademark search through the Trademark Electronic Search System before filing a business name could prevent future headaches and costly litigation.
To perform a trademark search, you’ll need to search the business name, associated slogans, logos, or others through the US Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records and Michigan trademark search to check if there are any local and federally registered trademarks associated.
However, just because a name has been trademarked does not necessarily mean you cannot use it. You need to know who is using the name, the industry they’re in, and where they’re located to avoid inadvertently infringing upon another’s intellectual property rights.
Reserve Michigan LLC Entity Name
If you’ve decided on a business name and have checked that it’s still available, you can reserve the name for 6 months with the Michigan’s Secretary of State Corporations Division. You must file an application online, mail, email (CDfilings@michigan.gov) or fax (517) 241-0538. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee for reserving your business name and checks must be made out to the “State of Michigan”.
Filing Fee: $25
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau
P.O. Box 30054
Lansing, MI 48909
Other Considerations and What To Do Next?
Reserving your desired Michigan Business Limited Liability Company name is pretty straightforward, but there are also other things that you need to look into when choosing the best name for your Michigan LLC business. Running a social media and domain name check will ensure you have full, unrestricted use of your desired Michigan LLC business name across multiple platforms.
Check Domain Name Availability
The rising number of companies establishing an online presence with the use of a company website means that more and more .com domains are being taken up.
The domain name competition is not just local, but international as other companies from different parts of the world will be fighting to use their desired michigan LLC company name for their website. You’ll then need to rely on your creativity to come up with a unique domain name that’s not used by others and allows your customers to visit you easily.
You can use the Namechk tool or GoDaddy website to perform a name availability check to see if your desired business name is still available. In the event the Michigan LLC business name is taken up, the sites can also recommend alternatives that you can consider.
The .com domain extension is the most popular extension on the internet, but it’s not the only extension available. There are other domain extensions that you can use for your website like .co, .net, and .io.
These extensions are also slowly gaining popularity as more and more businesses are using them for their websites. You can consider adoption these extensions for your website if your Michigan business name has already been used by another with a .com domain extension.
Check Social Media Name Availability
After checking the website and you’re certain that the desired domain name is available, the next thing to look at is your social media handle’s availability. More and more people are on social media now, so much so that it has become an integral part of our lives.
We use social media to check everything from what friends are doing, who the person is, to shop reviews. This is why it is important for your business to also have a social media presence where potential customers can search for you.
Here are a few tips that you can keep in mind when running a business social media:
- You should open up and maintain an active and strong social media presence even if you believe your business is small. As mentioned before, social media is a powerful tool that can be incredibly helpful to businesses, especially smaller businesses. A good social media page can help you boost organic presence online, attract potential customers, and even create awareness among the community on the existence of your business.
- You need to check if your desired social media handle is available across multiple social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. This is true if you plan on expanding your social media reach to different platforms. If you do find a desired name that’s available, we recommend quickly registering an account with that name before it gets taken up by someone else.
- You can do a simple search on each major site with the business name you want to check if it’s still available. Alternatively, you can use Namecheckr to perform a search across all platforms simultaneously so you do not need to spend the extra time to check each platform.
Register Your Michigan Business Entity
Now that you’ve confirmed your desired business name is available for use in Michigan, not trademarked, and already have a social media handle and website name in place, it is time for you to register your business entity with the state.
Yes, you can definitely file your LLC online or on your own but you may easily be confused with the amount of filing and paperwork required. Fortunately, there are companies like ZenBusiness, Incfile, and Northwest Registered Agent created to help you through this by filing the LLC for you.
Register Company Tax ID/EIN with the IRS
Just like how you have a social security number, companies in the US will also have a unique six-digit tax ID that needs to be registered with the IRS for tax purposes. The EIN registration progress with the IRS is a straightforward procedure and can be completed online.
Create a Company Logo
Now that you’ve filed your business name with the state of Michigan, the next thing is to have your company logo designed. A well designed logo can send the right impression you want your customers to know about your company.
Getting a memorable logo is just as important as coming up with a name. However, not everyone has the artistic skills to come up with their own logo design. This is where a designer can help you out and you can easily engage one from Fiverr.
Write a Business Plan
A proper business plan that’s well written can help you organize ideas and set a business pathway that the company can follow. Not only that, but potential investors will also be further impressed with a professionally written business plan as it helps create accountability.
Additionally, it is recommended for businesses that form partnerships to have their operating agreement professionally written to avoid any ambiguity or misunderstanding in the future. If you’re in need of assistance to help come up with a business plan, you can consider Liveplan.com. The website has more than 500 different sample plans for you to refer from.
Open a Business Bank Account
Another important step for your business is to open up a bank account for business transactions. While you can still use your personal bank account for transactions, it’s recommended for you to separate personal and business finances.
Not only that, but maintaining a business bank account will help build business credibility that will prove useful when you apply for business loans in the future.
One of the first steps of starting an LLC is to come up with a suitable business name that reflects company values and services offered. However, it’s also important that you check that your desired company name is available and will not be easily confused for another business in the state.
To check your name’s availability, you can run a search through Michigan’s Business Entity. If it’s available, you can secure your domain name and social media handle for customers to reach you online. After that, you’ll be ready to take the next steps to formalize your LLC.
Starting a business correctly doesn’t have to be difficult. With over 15 years of experience consulting new businesses and start ups, Matthew is probably the best person to help you set a strong foundation for your business.