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4 Min. Read

How to Change a Business Name: 12 Steps

How to Change a Business Name: 12 Steps

There are many factors that you need to think about when changing a company name. You have to first choose a name and then register the name change with the IRS. You’ll also need to file your business documents with the state or states where you operate. What’s more, you must do this for every government agency that you have a business license with.

If you’re a sole proprietor or a partnership, you’ll need to file a DBA name change. If this sounds like a lot, fear not. We compiled this handy guide on how to change a business name in 12 steps.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

Changing Your Business Name

Key Takeaways

Changing Your Business Name

Keep in mind that rebranding is more than just a new name; you’re taking on a whole new business identity. You also need to think about how consumers view the following:

  • Your business as a whole
  • Your company values
  • Your company colors

Does your name change positively reflect the above? These are things you want to consider when brainstorming a new company name, which brings us to…

Part I: The Brainstorming Process

If you do decide to change the name of your company, you need to brainstorm for the right name. This can prove to be a tricky endeavor. To assist you in this process, we’re providing some helpful tips directly below.

Step 1: Think about how you want people to perceive your company. Do you want consumers to see you as professional and friendly? Or maybe you’re going for a trendy business structure that’s more laid back. Whatever you decide, you need to think about how your logo, colors, and designs reflect your goals.

Step 2: Use business brainstorming tools to generate several different ideas based on your original concept. Consider how you can use them for your marketing purposes.

Step 3: Now it’s time to refine your top 5 ideas. Send these to family, friends, prospects, and existing customers. Based on their feedback, you can whittle down your top 5 to only 2 or fewer.

Step 4: Thoroughly search your industry for existing conflicts, such as trademarks and brands. The last thing you want is for your new name to violate an existing trademark.

Step 5: Perform a search on the USPTO trademark online database.

Step 6: Secure your domain name. You may have to settle on a variation if your first choice isn’t available. Also, consider protecting your new domain name. You can do this by buying up all top-level domains (i.e., .com, .net, and so on).

Now you can choose the most suitable name from your research above. Once you’re settled on your new name, you can proceed to the process of changing your name.

Part II: Making the Change

Before proceeding, please note that the IRS's processing time is about 60 days. This means that while the state or county level will recognize your new name, the federal level will not. As you can imagine, this could lead to temporary issues, namely with taxes.

You can avoid such issues by planning your name change 90 days before any federal taxes are due. And now, on to the steps you need to take to change your business name.

Step 7: Make a spreadsheet to track your name change progress. You might want to hire a freelancer or recruit an existing employee to assist you with the process.

Step 8: File the appropriate legal documents regarding your name change with your local government offices. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership, the main difference is filing a DBA name change.

Step 9: File your business’s official name change with the IRS. Remember, this can take some time, so plan accordingly to avoid potential issues.

Step 10: Update all business documents and company literature. This means replacing your original business name with your new assumed business name.

Step 11: Let your local government agencies and vendors know about your new name. This ensures a seamless transition in operations.

Step 12: Tell your clients that you’ve changed your business name. You don’t want your existing customers to think a new business has taken your place.

You are now ready to do business with your new business name change. 

Key Takeaways

Maintaining a spreadsheet is helpful in managing your new name change. Now that you know how to change a business name, you may need to use tools like FreshBooks to assist you in your operations.

Thanks to FreshBooks, you’ll have an easier time tracking hours, payroll, inventory, invoices, and much more. And for even more business essentials, head on over to our dedicated Resource Hub. There, you will gain access to business resources and helpful information on small business entities.