One of the first steps when starting a North Carolina business is to come up with a suitable business name. Your chosen business name that you use to file your LLC needs to be distinguishable and meet north carolina naming requirements.
One of the best ways to check if your chosen business name is unique compared to other businesses in the state is to run a North Carolina LLC Name Search.
North Carolina Naming Guidelines
As mentioned above, it is important to choose a name that meets the state’s naming guidelines. Some of the requirements that North Carolina businesses need to follow include:
- 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.
- North Carolina requires approval for the use any of the following words in your LLC name:
Bank, banker, banking cooperative, co-op, mutual, trust, architect, architecture, architectural, certified public accountant (CPA), engineer, engineering, insurance, pharmacy, prescription drug, drug, prescription, Rx, apothecary, realtor, surveyor, survey, surveying, and wholesale.
North Carolina LLC Name Must Be Distinguishable
Your North Carolina LLC business name must be distinguishable upon the records of the Secretary of State. This simply means that you cannot have the same business name as another company registered in North Carolina. The following differences will not make a name distinguishable in North Carolina:
- Designation of business entity type
- Use of numeral versus written numbers
Failure to use a distinguishable business name will result in application rejection. One way to check if your desired LLC name is available is to run a North Carolina Business Name Search discussed in the next section.
North Carolina LLC Name Search
Business owners can make use of North Carolina’s Business Entity Search to confirm the availability of their desired business name before filing the LLC formation application. We recommend business owners to do a thorough search before filling in their application to avoid the need to refile under a different name after the initial application is rejected.
The North Carolina Secretary of State website offers the function for the public to search for businesses registered with the state online. To make it easier for users to navigate and search for businesses, the website has a filter and search function where corporations and LLC are searchable by the following information:
- Registered Agents
- Company Officials
- Assumed Business Names
The website even includes additional filter options that generate results by searching “Any Word,” “All Word,” “Exact,” and “SOSID” based on what you’ve typed in the search bar.
North Carolina Company Name
The Business Name search query is obviously the most commonly used method when performing a business entity search. This is not surprising as most will remember a business by their name or are looking to check if their desired business name is taken by another company. To check for a business entity by the name, you’ll need to do the following:
- Enter the desired business name in the search bar.
- Click on “Search”
The website will generate a list of business entities with names related to what you’ve entered in the search bar. You do not need to include phrases like LLC, Corp, or other naming designations into the search bar as the database will automatically regenerate results for every type of entity for both current and inactive businesses.
Another way for the public to search for businesses in North Carolina is by using the registered agent filter. The website will generate entity names that were filed in the State of North Carolina under the registered agents you keyed into the search bar.
All you need to do is to enter a full or last name of the registered agent and click on search for the website to generate a list of results of all corporations that were filed under the name.
Assumed Business Name
Keying the assumed business name in the website will also generate results for both business names and owners associated with the assumed business name entered into the search option. There’s advanced filters for it where users can narrow down the search by country and date.
North Carolina Business Name Search Status
The sheer number of new businesses getting filed and opened everyday simply means that more and more company names are being taken up.
This is why it is extremely relatable when business owners face difficulty coming up with a unique and distinguishable LLC name for their business. One way to get around this is to run a search through North Carolina’s Business Entity database and look out for company names that are already expired.
For example, if you’re planning to start a cafe, you could enter the word “Cafe” into the search bar and the North Carolina website will produce a list of businesses with the word “Cafe” in them. From there, you can screen through the list and see if there’s any expired business name that would suit your company.
It is recommended that you still give the Secretary of State a call to confirm the name’s availability even though it’s listed as expired on the website. This will eliminate the risk of your application getting rejected in the event that “expired” name has already been activated or used by another.
Picking a suitable business name does not just involve running a North Carolina business name search. You also need to make sure that the name you want doesn’t already have a registered trademark. Hence it is worthwhile to run a trademark search through the Trademark Electronic Search System before filling your application.
You should run a trademark search on your desired business name, slogan, and logos through both North Carolina trademark search and the US Patent and Trademark Office’s electronic records to ensure you’re not infringing on any federally trademarked intellectual property rights.
One thing though, is that just because the company name has been trademarked doesn’t mean you can’t use the name anymore. You need to check who is using the name, the industry they’re in and where they’re located.
Reserve Business Entity Name
Once you’ve found a suitable business name that’s also available with no trademark associated, you can file a name reservation application to reserve your desired company name with the North Carolina Secretary of State for up to 120 days. Take note that the name reservation is not renewable, once 120 days is up, the name will be open to the public again.
Filing fee: $30
Business Registration Division
PO Box 29622,
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
Other Considerations and What To Do Next?
After filling out your business name reservation application, you can proceed to look at other important considerations before deciding to file your LLC officially. Some considerations include running a social media and domain name check to ensure that you have full, unrestricted use of your desired business name across different platforms.
Check Domain Name Availability
In today’s digital era, business owners understand the importance of a strong online presence for their businesses. This is why most companies, small or big, have their own website where customers can use to get to know the company better.
One thing to keep in mind about deciding on a domain name is that you’re not just fighting for the name with just the businesses in North Carolina, you’re going to be competing with everyone else in the world who wants the best domain name for customers to search them up easily.
To help you check on your domain name’s availability, you can use Namechkr or GoDaddy websites to help you out. These tools will even give you a list of recommendations on alternative domain names for you to consider in case the one you want is already taken.
The .com domain extension is certainly the most popular internet extension out there but it’s also not the only one available. There are other domain extensions you can consider like .co, .net, and .io. As more and more names are being taken up, many businesses are starting to adopt other extensions so that they can continue using their desired domain name.
Check Social Media Name Availability
The next step after checking domain name is to check if your desired business name has a suitable social media handle that you can use. Having a company website is not the only thing to do to establish a good online presence, you also need to have social media pages where customers can reach you directly. Here are a few tips on starting a business social media page:
- It’s recommended for every business to open up a social media page and to keep it active even if you feel like your business is small. Social media is actually a very important tool that helps businesses connect with the customers and gain better insights on their target audience. Social media is a powerful tool that can help business owners boost organic presence online, attract new customers, and even create awareness.
- You should check if your desired social media handle is available on different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Having the same social media handle on different platforms will make it easier for your customers to reach you from multiple sites and could eliminate confusion among your customers.
- To check social media handle availability, you can type your desired business name one by one on major sites but this method may take up a lot of time and effort, especially if you want to check on different sites. Alternatively, you can run the name check with Namechkr that will search through all platforms at the same time.
Register Your North Carolina Business Entity
After confirming your desired business name is available in North Carolina and everything is in line, you can proceed to register your LLC with the state. You can choose to file your own LLC online but you should be prepared to handle a lot of paperwork.
This is where an LLC formation company like ZenBusiness, Incfile, and Northwest Registered Agent can help you cut out the fuss and get the job done.
Register Company Tax ID/EIN with the IRS
Every company will be assigned a unique six-digit tax ID known as EIN. Business owners are required to register their company EIN with the IRS for tax purposes. Fortunately, the EIN registration process is quite straightforward and can be conducted by yourself online.
Just like how everyone has a social security number, every company will also have a unique six-digit tax ID that business owners need to register with the IRS for tax purposes. The EIN registration process is pretty straightforward and can be done by yourself online.
Designing a Company Logo
A company logo is actually very important for businesses as a properly designed logo can deliver the right message you want your audience/customers to know. This is why it is important to have a memorable logo in addition to coming up with a unique company name.
However, it is understandable that not everyone has the artistic capability to come up with their own design. Fortunately, business owners can count on websites like Fiverr to get in touch with freelancers to get your logo done in as short as within 24 hours.
Preparing a Business Plan
Business plans are important for companies as they include the business’ plans and future goals. This document becomes increasingly important for businesses seeking investors as a business plan will help owners organize ideas and even create a sense of accountability.
Furthermore, a professionally written operating agreement is highly encouraged for businesses that form partnerships with others as an operating agreement will help avoid future misunderstandings.
Open a Business Bank Account
Another thing to do after registering your company with the state is to open up a business bank account. While it’s entirely possible to continue using your personal bank account for transactions, it is better to separate personal and business finances. Doing this will not only make accounting easier, but it can also help you build business credibility for future loan applications.
Yes, one of the most important steps to do when forming an LLC is to choose a suitable business name that not only reflects company values but also meets Nevada naming requirements. In addition to coming up with a name, business owners also need to look into other considerations like domain name and social media handle availability.
After formalizing your LLC, you’ll need to come up with a company logo, business plan, and open a bank account.
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.