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3 must-do checks before choosing a business name

The name of your business is one of your most important decisions. For some it takes five seconds, for others it might take five years to decide on. However it comes about, it’s something that will be a foundation of your brand.

This blog isn’t about what is a good name and what is a bad name. Choosing a business name is hard but don’t let it hold you back from getting the ball rolling. You can do it. We believe in you

This blog is about making sure the name you have chosen will not get you into a mess later down the line. Spoiler alert - it only takes a few minutes and it’s free!

Getting started

So, you have a name or a shortlist of names you like. You’re about to run off the starting blocks. But before you put pedal to the metal and start ordering those business cards do these three simple and free checks on your list of potentials:

1. Trademarks

Is the name already trademarked by someone else? If it’s trademarked by someone else in the same category (called ‘class’ in the wonderful world of trademarks) it means it’s protected and you cannot use it.

This is super easy and free to check on the UK Intellectual Property Office website. All you need to do is enter your search term, which will be your proposed name, and click search. Have a look through the results and see if anyone else had already trademarked the same name.

👉 If they have, we don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but you should choose a new name. The trademark owner can stop you from using it and sue you which could cause you all manner of headaches later on once you’ve established your business. Get your thinking cap back on.

2. Domain Names

Domain names are more important for some businesses than others. If it’s important to you or you think you might need a website as your business grows, check to see if the domain name is available.

This is easy to do and free. Have a search on any domain provider like 123-Reg or GoDaddy

Domain names can be expensive, especially if you are using common words but don’t panic. Remember to try different variations of your name or tag on words that could make the domain available or cheaper.

3. Company Names

Business structures are a whole other blog post but you might decide to set up as a limited company. Even if you’re a sole trader at the moment, in future many businesses will use a limited company structure as they grow larger, so it’s important to consider it now.

Again, it is easy to check if your proposed name is available and it’s free. The Companies House name availability checker is the best way to do this.

This blog recommends three checks but this one is the last one for a reason. Of the three checks, if your proposed name isn’t available at Companies House, it’s not so much of a stumbling block.

This is because your limited company name and the name you call your business (your trading name) do not have to be the same. You can also play around with the name availability checker - try adding some words to your brand name, like your industry or your location to make it different enough to be available.

Once you have your name, you’re ready to run the marathon. You’ll smash it and remember, make sure you enjoy the ride!


Emma Downey | Founder, Women Who Do

Emma can be found glued to her laptop/kindle or embarking on her next favourite hobby. Avid cake-eater, Disney-superfan and passionate about female empowerment, Emma founded WWD in 2017. She's currently travelling around Europe in her converted camper van and eating far too many croissants.

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