Naming your business can be as time consuming as naming a child. You want to find the right moniker, something that communicates the essential nature of your business, and something that will stand the test of time. You want a name that is both unique and memorable, something that sounds, well, right. And you need to find a handle that no one else is using.
Firstly, think about what you want your business to be. You may want to look for a name that suggests the nature of your business, or the location. But try not to be too limiting. You want to have the opportunity for your business to grow and adapt without having to change your name.
If you are a writer, artist or a bookkeeper, for example, something where your business is you, you may want to do business under your own name. (NB. If your legal business name is your own name, you do not need to register your business.)
When you have an idea, do a quick internet search to find out if any other businesses are using that name. I suggest starting with a domain name search. Ideally you want to get the domain name for your exact business name. Even if you don’t plan to set up a website right away, once you have settled on a business name, buy the domain name.
I also recommend doing some market-testing with your name. Ask as many people as you can what they think of your name. Do they find it memorable? What kind of impression does it give them of your business? For me, this was the most valuable part of the process of choosing ,my business name.
If you are a sole-proprietorship you do not necessarily need to register your name, though you will want to if you plan to get loans, open business bank accounts or to incorporate in the future.
To register your business, you first need to get your name approved by B.C. Registry Services. They will check your proposed name against the list of BC registered corporations to make sure your name is unique. However, they do not check against other proprietorship or partnership names, so that initial Google search can be helpful to find out if anyone else is using the name you want.
Once your business name has been approved, you have 56 days to register your business name.
As a sole proprietorship or partnership you can register online at the OneStop Business Registry in person at Small Business BC or by mail to the B.C. Corporate Registry.
In most municipalities in BC, you also need to register for a local business licence. Contact your city hall to find out which permits you require
Depending in the nature of your business, there may be additional licensing or other requirements. Be sure to confirm your obligations with local, provincial and federal authorities.