Most of the 100 plus entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed said that the business they started now looks very different. For example, they started providing consulting to the commercial market and ended up with only government clients. They created a city-specific business and ended up with 7 regions. The first product was a backpack and the ultimate product was a generator. An early partner needed out, and the partnership became a sole proprietorship. Businesses morph. And sometimes the name of the company has to change as a result.
I just changed the name of my business from QA Company LLC to Entrepology LLC for the same reason. I started a company to provide research services to nonprofits and for profit organizations. Before long, I was helping companies define strategies, grow, strengthen operations, and improve their profit margins. I wanted the company name to link to entrepreneurship. If you have to change the name of your company, here are the steps I discovered to help you along.
1. Check your new name out carefully. Are there existing trademarks on that name in your industry? If you are starting a cola business, stay away from the name Coke! If on the other hand, you are starting a dress shop, the name may be available.
2. Is the URL available? If not, grab it!
3. Create or have a designer create a new logo.
4. File for a Trademark on the new name and logo. I used an online company to file for a Trademark.
5. If your company is incorporated, you need to change the name officially with the Secretary of State in the state where your business is incorporated. They must approve the change and will send you a letter of approval. You can file the paperwork or use a company that provides assistance with legal forms.
6. When the name change is approved by the Secretary of State, notify the IRS of the name change. Make sure to have your EIN number on the letter. Note this process is different for partnerships, corporations, and multi-member LLCs. Check the SBA for filing requirements.
7. Notify your clients and prospects of the name change. This is a golden opportunity to create a marketing program for your clients and prospects! Send them an email, a letter, a cup, a pen or a tee shirt with your new name and logo!
8. Notify your agents, vendors and partners about the name change. Those that send you invoices need to know how to address them and what will be on your new checks. Remember to change the name with your online services, such as Salesforce and Constant Contact.
9. Change your name on all accounts at the bank and buy new checks.
10. Remind clients of the name change when you send them an invoice so that they make payments appropriately.
11. Depending on your business strategy, you may want to launch a PR campaign about the name change.
Check with your state, the SBA website and any legal or accounting advisors you may have to confirm the steps required for your type of business. For example, you may have to change the name on your business license or permits. Per the Comptroller’s website, “Businesses located in Maryland may need to obtain one or more of the following licenses from their local Clerk of the Court: auctioneer; billiard table; chain store; cigarette; commercial garage; console machine; construction firm; hawkers and peddlers; junk dealers; laundry; music box (juke box); pinball; plumber and gas fitter; restaurant; special cigarette; storage warehouse; trader’s; trader’s show; vending machine; and wholesale dealer-farm machinery.” This information will be different for each state, so check the Comptroller of your State’s website!
All the best!