Steps to Starting A Business, Step Two: The Business License (3 of 5)

Written by Tammy Durden

Starting a Business

Step Three:  The Business License

(Part 1 of 2 on the Business License Itself)

We know starting a business can be very stressful, yet exciting.  Many items can be overlooked in the excitement. This series is a simple, yet practical guide, in very general terms, to help you in starting a business. We are laying out the practical basic Steps to Starting A Business. Today’s focus is on obtaining a business license.

A Quick Recap:

In Step One we discussed making decisions regarding what type of business you will be before any paperwork is filed or names put into legal documents.  Taking the time to make a few decisions and choices before beginning the paperwork, will help things run smoothly as we are stepping forward in beginning our businesses.  Now, in Step Two we discussed doing a ‘Business Plan’ and the importance of setting the foundations for our business.  A business plan takes everything you have been thinking about and researching and puts it down on paper, in great detail. This is also a necessary step if a business loan is being sought.

Step 3: The Business License

Step Three is all about the formality of paperwork and finally letting the Officials know that a new business is starting.  Putting choices onto a legal document for the Country, State and/or County in which the business is formed is very important.  Not only important and necessary but also a big step.  Remember just what this moment means because it is an exciting time in the life of your business.  Registering the business, through completing the application for a business license, will also be how the business receives an ID number(s). This is needed for tax purposes.  Federal tax, employment taxes, and even in setting up a business checking account at the bank in the U.S. require this number.  More will discuss more Business ID numbers in future content.

The Process

Most of the time, this step is a fairly easy process, however, each State can be different.   The first item to take care of is actually research. Researching the company name online in the State’s database to be sure it is not already taken.

The Name Game

Is the name of the company unique?  Are there other companies within the State who already have the same name? This is, of course, a crucial step in starting a business. The moment of truth comes when the name is finally entered and checked against the database of existing businesses.

To look up a new business name, begin by going to the appropriate State’s Business website page.  For instance, if you live in Virginia, you would go to the State’s Name, Availability Page. Type in the business name and click ‘Enter’!  The name will be checked against the already registered businesses within that State’s database of names.

Did the business name pass the ‘name game’ test?  The site should indicate if the business name is available or not.

Be Prepared with Options

I recommend having a few variations of the business name, just in case your first choice is not available.  If the business name you are trying to register is ‘Business Solutions’, this will probably not be available. It is just a very ‘broad’ name and more than likely is taken.  Therefore, try variations of the name.  For our example perhaps something such as ‘Business Solutions by _____ (your name)’, or ‘Solutions for Your Business’, or even a different name altogether.

My Confession  
I must confess when naming my company I had a small piece of paper that I kept out on my desk.  Anytime I thought of another name, or simply became inspired, I would write it down.  I am not sure this is the best practice, as in the end, I had a paper the size of an index card filled front and back with nearly 30 business names. The initial process of elimination is easy, crossing out the obviously bad names against those that stand out.  In the end, however, there were still 7 to 10 names still on that list. Bugging family and friends for their opinion, does not usually work, because, in the end, it is all your choice. Simply having 3 to 5 names, numbered in order of preference is a great place to start.  When you go to register the business and apply for the license, you have alternate options and not caught by surprise.  Be sure to also ‘Google’ search the name, because ultimately the business name will become the domain name usually as well.

Please be sure to read the next post that is the Continuation of Step Three, for the final steps for filing the business license.

As always, I genuinely thank you for reading friends!  I do not take this for granted and want you to know that I appreciate you.

Tammy S. Durden signature

Disclaimer – We attempt to be thorough and provide up to date information, however, we are not a legal firm nor any State official office and do not claim to have all of the answers in regard to this topic.  We will not be held responsible or liable for missing or inaccurate information or information that seems to portray something not true; as we are relaying information in good faith to help others. We encourage you to also do your own due diligence and research to make sure you have everything you need prior to starting your business. We also think it is wise to consult with a business lawyer at some point in the process prior to opening your business up for an operation to make sure your contracts, paperwork, and everything else is in order for your State.  We are not responsible for missing information or misunderstood passing on of information, or misconstrued information on the reader’s part.  We only wish to help businesses in offering information we have found helpful.  We will not be held responsible or liable, for any losses, perceived loss, or anything else related to the ‘Starting a business’ blogs.

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