We can’t tell you how many clients rush into our small business centre to register their business name having spent virtually no time or thought on what their business name should be. Some clients have actually thought up a name on the spot, while sitting at our registration computer! Some clients are in a hurry because they have potential business or have already done business and they feel that if they don’t register right away they are doing something illegal. Often we hear “I just want to do this right”.
Our advice? Take your time! You’ve done all of your research.
- You understand types of business structure.
- You’ve looked into necessary permits and licensing.
- You understand all of the costs involved in insuring your business, vehicle and home.
- You’ve created a start-up budget and have a good idea of your break even point.
- You understand who your target market is and have a plan for reaching them and of course you’ve researched your competition.
You have done all of these things, right? Now, doesn’t it make sense to take time to come up with a really good business name?
Deciding on your business name is one of the most important decisions you will make. Yes, it can be changed but think about the costs involved! Not only will you have to re-do all of your business cards and promotional materials, you will have to start all over building up client recognition and your brand. Your business card is often your customer’s first impression of your business.
Now back to the legal implications and “doing it right”. As a sole proprietor, you can operate in your own name and there is no need to register it. Once you add something to your name or operate under a name other than your own, it must be registered.
For example, Mary Smith has been painting houses for family and charging them a small fee for her services. Mary’s sister has recommended Mary to a friend of hers to paint her new home. Mary rushes into our centre and says that in order to take this job she feels she must register. She sheepishly admits to us how she has been operating but now that she has a client who is not family, she wants to “Make this legal”. Our response to Mary is to relax. She can continue operating in her own name and when the time is right and she wants to advertise with a business name we can help her with her name registration. Of course we also advise Mary on declaring her income and expenses, any potential municipal requirements, HST, insurance, etc.
Visit Canada Business for further information and tips on choosing a business name, drop into our Small Business Centre at 1151 Bronte Road in Oakville or watch our short video on searching and registering a name. Next week’s blog will focus on types of name searches available, how to access them and name protection.