So you’ve got a great new idea for a business however not really sure where you should start.
Most likely the first that you will be thinking of is your business name.
- A business name is the name under which your business operates and is connected to your Australian Business Number (ABN).
- You only need to register a business name if you are trading under a name that is not your own.
- Registration of your business name registers it nationally. You only need to register once even if you trade in multiple states.
- You cannot register a business name that is identical or too similar to a business name registered to another Australian business or company.
WHERE TO NEXT
- Choose your business structures and types.
- Apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- Register your business name and trade mark.
- Register a website name (the domain name, i.e. centralcoastwebdesign.com.au)
1. BUSINESS STRUCTURE & TYPES.
Work out your business structure first as there are rules regarding business name registrations that may vary depending on the structure of your business.
If your business is a company, you need to register the business name at the time of registering your company.
If you are a sole trader or have a partnership, you need to register your business name with the ASIC (Australian Security & Investment Commission) unless your business is named after you or your partner.
Further Info Australian Government business structures
2. APPLY FOR AN ABN
Do you need an ABN?
If a business decides not to register for GST, because its income will not exceed the $75,000 threshold, the decision also needs to be made whether it will register for an Australian Business Number.
There is no requirement for a business to register for an ABN however depending on who the customers of your business will be there can be a huge disadvantage if they do not register.
Further info available here – Register for an ABN
3. TRADE MARKS
A business name does not give you legal rights to that name. This means that if someone else uses your business name for their business, you don't have any rights to stop them.
- A trade mark legally protects your name and stops others from trading with it.
- When you register a trade mark you get exclusive use of that trade mark throughout Australia.
- A trade mark is protected in all Australian states and territories for an initial period of 10 years.
- Being an Australian trade mark owner makes it easier to apply for a trade mark in other countries.
If you need exclusive use of your business name, you should register it as a trade mark.
Further info here – Trade Mark information Australian Government
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR NAME
*Your company name and Internet domain name should probably be the same.
You will need to check if the name is already in use before you start purchasing anything.
Technically speaking, unless a business name in Australia is registered as a trademark, it can be used by multiple entities. Keeping in mind the brand value that your business name carries, it’s best to be unique and easily distinguishable from others.
ASIC business name information
To check for availability of the name that you’re thinking of, use the ASIC Business name availability check
If you are thinking about registering your business name as a trademark too, check IP Australia to see if it’s already registered. Go to IP Australia
The name should be easy to pronounce and remember, sound pleasant and conjure up positive emotions so customers respond to your business on an emotional level.
- Don't pick a name that is long or confusing.
- Stay away from cute puns that only you understand.
- Don't use the word “Inc.” after your name unless your company is actually incorporated.
- The shorter in length, the better, try limiting it to two syllables.
- Avoid using hyphens and other special characters.
If you’re thinking of quirky words (Yahoo, Google, Fogdog) or trademark-proof names concocted from scratch (Novartis, Aventis, Lycos), always check the international implications.
More than one company has been embarrassed by a new name that had negative and even obscene connotations in another language.
Consider the name Gippil – it’s not only hard to pronounce, but it’s very obscure. It’s okay to be a bit clever, but don’t overdo it.
Research your competitors and avoid choosing a name too similar.
It’s not only unoriginal, it’s also not good for your brand image and could mean that potential customers may confuse your business with that of your competition.
In regard to using your own name, it may not communicate anything about your business to potential customers. It could also cause problems later on if you ever want to sell your business in the future.
Look at a name that can expand with your business. If you’re only selling books, you may decide later to sell stationery products as well. If your service is based where you’re currently living, you may move areas down the track so consider using a broader name that can encompass your future growth.
4. REGISTER A WEBSITE NAME (Purchasing the Domain Name)
Once you’ve narrowed down your name options, you have to make sure the name you want to use is available.
* Check if the name is already registered as a trademark or acquired by another business.
If you’re planning on having an online presence, which you definitely should,
you’ll want to make sure the desired domain is available by doing a domain name check
by using the lookup search with any of the many various domain name providers.
* Register your domain name with a domain name registrar or reseller.
There's more information available on the auda.org.au website
A domain name can impact your online visibility and influences your marketing efforts as well.
Choosing a name can be challenging when you’re setting out to start a business, but not something to stress over.
Throw your ideas around your friends, family or even potential customers, it will give you a few different points of view.
For further information have a look at the Australian Governments website:
Deciding on a business name
Business name availability
Australian Government Start your business info
Australian Government Online business info
Keep an eye out for our next post in this series of ‘Curious & Curiouser Tech Tips – Your new website – What are the costs involved and where do I start?