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What You May Not Know About Business Names

Did you know a limited liability company can have multiple DBAs (short for doing business as)? While it is standard protocol for all business owners to have a business name—DBAs depending on whether the company wants to operate under a name other than the owner’s or company’s legal name—there is more to business names than meets the eye. Learn why Etsy is named Etsy, business name scams you need to be aware of, creative ways to name your business, why you should conduct a Wyoming Secretary of State business search, and more.

1. These 2 Businesses Have Bizarre Business Names

According to Business Insider, One King Lane, a reputable home décor e-commerce site, is named after a fictitious address. Supposedly, the owner wanted their name to blend the old and new world sensibilities. Other than One King Lane, heavy hitter creative commerce platform, Etsy, has an unusual backstory. The article goes on to state that Robert Kalin, Etsy’s founder, wanted a meaningless word that would stand out and turn into a brand. Listening to foreign movies, Kalin came up with lists of business names. Watching an Itialian film, Kalin heard the word, “etsy,” which translates in English as “oh yes!” With a duplicate meaning of “and if” in Latin, Kalin decided to go with that word. These business name backstories go to show that perhaps the more unusual the name, the better chance the customer will remember it. (Of course, along with a good marketing strategy.)

2. It is Possible to Have Multiple DBAs

As mentioned, a DBA (or doing business as) is a fictitious business name other than the owner’s or the company’s legal name. The reason for having one is one of many, branding reasons being one of the top. What many do not know about DBAs is that limited liability companies can have multiple. According to this article, LLCs do this because they want to operate in several different markets; each DBA appeals to a particular target audience. Another reason is rebranding, especially if the LLC decides to drop one of its DBAs and take up a new one. Appealing to “sub markets” of a larger market could be another reason why the LLC has several DBAs. An LLC that sells clothing for teens and working twenty-somethings, for instance may decide to use two separate business names to attract customers from both of these subgroups within the fashion industry. Know that, no matter if the company decides to have one DBA or multiple, it must fill out and file the DBA forms separately. (Also, know that the company will have to renew all of its DBAs yearly, bi-yearly, or some other length of time determined by the state. This time varies from state to state. Check with your state’s secretary of state business page for more information.)

3. Think Outside the Box When Choosing a Business Name

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are roughly 27.9 million small businesses and around 18,500 firms (which have 500 workers or more) in the US. What this means is that choosing an unusual, one-of-a-kind business name may be hard to come by. To help you come up with one, think outside of the box by randomly flipping through the dictionary. Also, listen to songs (of course, check to see if there are any legal ramifications) and pay attention to words that stand out in the newspaper or online. No matter what business name you decide on, conduct a business name availability search on your state’s secretary of state website to determine if it is available.

4. Be Aware of Business Name Scams

Unfortunately, scams are everywhere, business names-related scams being no exception. Here are two noteworthy business name scams to be weary of.

Phishing Scams

Normally, phishing scams are associated with over-market-y emails baiting the individual to click on the link in the email body. A lot of times, the misspelling, bizarre grammar, and characters in the header are enough to alert the individual that the message is suspicious. However, phishing emails, disguised as an official letter from the IRS, popular banking institution, or reputable company, are harder to recognize. What many do not know is that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the company whose business name the scammer illegally used is a victim as well. As you can imagine, since business names are a large part of a company’s branding strategy, those (unfortunate) businesses whose names have been stolen and misused may suffer reputational ramifications, not to mention several irate phone calls from customers. What the FTC recommends companies do in this situation is to notify customers and law enforcement of the scam immediately, instruct consumers who have suffered from the scam the proper resources, and learn from the situation by enforcing security efforts.

DBA Renewal Scams

As mentioned, companies who have a DBA must renew before it expires. This could be bi-annually, annually, every 5 years, or another time length, depending on the state the business is registered in. Many business owners may be surprised to find an official-looking notice from the state or federal government notifying the business to renew the DBA immediately and that, to do so, the business should pay said company a hefty fine (around $150) to fill out and send in the proper forms. What the business owner does not know is that the letter is not from the state or federal government but scammers looking to bank on a pretty penny. If you receive this type of letter, see if the fine is large. Normally, it costs less to renew the DBA. If you want to double-check, you can contact your Secretary of State office to see if the letter is from them. Have any experience or tips about business names? Leave a comment!

Thinking of Conducting a Wyoming Secretary of State Business Search?

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