How to go about choosing a business name
You can choose a name that reflects what your business does – car repairs, cleaning, maintenance services, or go for something completely abstract. The choice is yours! But do make it easy to remember, easy to say, and easy to spell.
Check the list of terms that cannot be used in a company name
(these include British, National, Federation, Society)
If you're going for a descriptive name try to pick one that won’t limit you in the future. For example, if you do car repairs now, you may want to branch out into car hire, or run a car spare parts shop later on.
If you include your own name, and it's a popular one, add something that makes it unique, eg Joanne Smith, specialist cleaning services rather than Joanne Smith & Co. It'll make your business more memorable and you won't risk being mistaken for an existing business. 'Passing off' is the term used when one business deliberately pretends to be another more successful one.
If you're forming a Limited Company or Limited Liability Partnership you can trade under your registered company name or a different business name altogether, provided you make it clear.
If you're a sole trader you don't have to use your own name but your bank account will be 'your name' trading as 'your business name' and you'll need to include your own name on your website and all your business stationery, including invoices.
You cant use 'Ltd' 'Limited' 'LLP' or 'Limited Liability Partnership' unless you actually are one.
How to check if you can use a company name
You don't need to register a company name unless you're going to trade as a Limited Company but there are some ways to check whether the name you want is a good one to go for. Do this BEFORE you design your logo, print your business cards or order signage.
The expensive option is to get a patent or trademark agent, or an intellectual property lawyer to search for you.
Here's some more practical ways you can check for yourself:
If you've made these checks and can't find a business operating with a similar name then you're probably safe to go with it.