Name That Biz

Think the business-name registration process in Florida is the same as the one in California? Think again.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the September 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: What exactly do I have to do to register my business name?

Name withheld

A: Registering a business name is usually not difficult, but how you do it varies from state to state. Your first step is to log on to your state's Web site and find out what your state requires. Here's what to look for:

  • Do you register at the state or county level? Florida and Missouri require registration with a state office; other states, like California, send you to the county courthouse. Some will let you register online, so you can avoid both travel and paperwork.
  • Do you need to advertise your use of a fictitious name in a newspaper? It depends. In California, the answer is yes. But in Michigan, it's no. The good news is that you don't have to use the daily newspaper for a public notice. You can use a small weekly instead-it probably has lower rates and will help you fill out any paperwork.
  • Can you use a business name someone else is using? Not in states like New York-but some states, like Florida, allow it. Still, it's good business to determine if a name is already in use or protected by a trademark or service mark. Check the online Yellow Pages at Switchboard.com and AnyWho (www.anywho.com). Do a trademark search using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's free database (www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm). Or try your state's Web site.

Paul and Sarah Edwards are the co-authors of 15 books, including The Entrepreneurial Parent. Send them your start-up business questions at www.workingfromhome.com or in care of Entrepreneur.

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Create your business plan in half the time with twice the impact using Entrepreneur's BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan. Try risk free for 60 days.

Latest on Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Media, Inc. values your privacy. In order to understand how people use our site generally, and to create more valuable experiences for you, we may collect data about your use of this site (both directly and through our partners). By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the use of that data. For more information on our data policies, please visit our Privacy Policy.