Is it possible to change your business name after incorporation? The short answer, for corporations or LLCs, is yes. Changing it may sound intimidating, but the process shares more similarities with naming a small business than one might think. If you are ready to change it, focus on these areas as you make the name change.
Understand Why You’re Changing It
This change is a serious undertaking. Naming a small business takes time and research to complete. The name of your business is unique and differentiates you from your competitors.
If you are changing the name, you need to be certain this change benefits the business and its customer base. Ask these questions before you start the name change process.
- Did you name the business after yourself? Some entrepreneurs start a small business they name after themselves. Over time, they may find it’s a good idea to conduct a name change in favor of a more professional sounding business name.
- The current name doesn’t reflect your mission or values. A name change will help put you reclaim the identity of your business and the goals it’s working to achieve.
- It’s not sticking with customers. Customers may be struggling to spell, pronounce, or remember the name of your business. The less recognition customers have of a brand, the more likely a small business will struggle to retain their audience.
- You’re rebranding. The business you started has changed since its inception. As such, you’re planning to rebrand. A name change is just the beginning of a complete brand refresh.
Conduct a Name Search
You may look through a trademark database like USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Or you can work alongside a third-party trademark filing services provider. Determine if this trademark has already been registered or if it is available for use.
As you conduct a name search, check in with the Secretary of State in which you do business. Make sure this business name is available and your business is following the state’s rules for naming a small business.
It’s also a good idea to conduct a domain name search. Check to see if the domain name, and preferred social media handles, are available.
In an LLC, the members must approve a name change. Corporations must receive shareholder approval prior to a name change.
Approval may be obtained through a resolution for change of name of the company. Review corporate bylaws (corporation) or LLC operating agreement (LLC) for further details on name change approval.
Notify the Secretary of State
Once the members and shareholders agree to the name change, it is time to notify the state and contact the IRS.
- Notify the Secretary of State. To change your business name with the state you do business, prepare articles of amendment. This document notifies the state the business is changing its legal name. Pay the filing fees. Submit these documents to the state. Once the articles of amendment have been approved, the name change will be official on the state level.
- Contact the IRS. The IRS must be notified about the business name change for federal tax purposes. Different types of action will be required depending on your entity formation.
Do You Need An EIN?
Some name changes may require new EINs, depending on the situation. Check in with the IRS to determine if your business needs to apply for a new EIN.
Update Business Licenses and Permits
What happens to your business licenses and permits? Reach out to your local city or county offices to determine if you will need to apply for new licenses and permits or cancel existing ones.
Speak With a Legal Professional
Meet with a legal professional and ask if there’s anything else left to do before announcing the name change. For example, you will need to amend your existing LLC operating agreement or corporate bylaws with the new business name. Get in touch with your bank and ask if you’ll need to open a new business bank account.
Consider a Doing Business As Name (DBA)
What if you want to operate under another business name you find more accurately represents a subset of your business? You would not need to file for a formal name change in this situation. Instead, you might consider filing for a doing business as name (DBA).
A DBA identifies a business. It allows business owners to receive payments under a different name than their legal business. Obtaining a DBA makes it easy for business owners to add additional lines of business as the company grows and expands.
Depending on the needs of your business, you may find you may be a good fit for a name change or may find it’s more advantageous to file for and register a DBA.
Change your business name with MyCorporation. Contact MyCorporation at mycorporation.com or give us a call at 877-692-6772.