Getting Started Guides

Naming Your Business

Naming Your Business

Name your business carefully.  It will be with you for a long time (hopefully) and it will reflect you, your company, your employees, investors and stakeholders.  The right name can describe your business and even be an effective advertising tool that can help your customers understand what you’re offering to the marketplace. 

Of course, the wrong name can do damage also – by being confusing, inappropriate and downright bad.  How about Anal Jewellery Centre, or Blue Balls Boutique?  Seriously. They exist. Nothing like offending potential customers right out of the gate!

Here are some things to consider before you settle on a business name:

  • Make sure your business name describes the product or service you offer 
  • Pick a distinctive name, not one that could be confused with a competitor
  • Choose a business name that’s easy to pronounce, remember and spell
  • Try to avoid naming your business after yourself just incase you want to sell the business down the road 
  • Make sure you are legally allowed to use your business name.  Your business name can’t be the same as, or similar to, an existing business name or trademark.  We’ll explain how to do an online business name search later on.

Choosing a business name is very subjective.  Select several possible alternatives that you like and feel reflect the character of the business you want to create. Conduct a little research with potential customers to see if the names resonate.  Then go check to make sure these alternatives are available to use.  Once you’ve selected a name, and registered it, you should develop a unique brand that you can use on business cards, letterhead, signs, invoices, and promotional materials.  Customers are more likely to deal with companies that have a memorable brand than they are with companies that have no brand.  We cover brand development in GoForth’s Getting Started Guides – Choosing a Brand.

Let’s learn more about naming your business:


Step 1:  Choose a business name

According to Corporations Canada, your name must meet the following requirements:

  • The name must be distinctive.
  • The name must not cause confusion with any existing name or trademark.
  • The name must include a legal element.
  • The name must not include unacceptable terms.

Let’s have a look at these requirements in more detail.

Your proposed business name has to be unique and easy to distinguish from the names of other businesses that carry on the same activities. Bicycles, Inc. may not be approved, for example, because it’s not unique or descriptive enough. 

If your business name is similar to that of an existing business, the other business has the right to bring about legal action, which may force you to change your name if they are successful in court.  So choose a unique name from the outset.


Step 2:  Do a NUANS Search

NUANS is a computerized search system that compares a proposed corporate name or trademark with databases of existing corporate bodies and trademarks. This comparison determines the similarity that exists between the proposed name or mark and existing names in the database, and produces a listing of names that are found to be most similar.

NUANS is a registered Trade-mark of the government of Canada. The software and the data is the property of Industry Canada.

A NUANS corporate name search report is required by the federal and most provincial / territorial governments when granting new business names. The reports list similar existing corporate names and trademarks, which are used to determine the availability of your proposed name.

To obtain your NUANS report you may create your own, or request assistance from a NUANS registered member who will create the report for you. Follow this link.


Step 3:  Apply for your business name

If you are starting a sole-proprietorship or partnership, you can register your business name or trademark at a corporate registries office in your area.

If you are starting a corporation, you need to apply to Corporations Canada on their website.

Or you can have a lawyer or accountant incorporate your business for you for a fee.

Review GoForth’s Getting Started Guide – Sole-proprietorship, Partnership or Corporation before choosing to incorporate.  We always recommend getting professional advise before deciding on a business structure.

Once you’re finished your business planning stage, it’s time to think about training. Do you really know how to run  a successful small business?  That’s why we offer Canada’s leading online small business training. Make the investment in your future today – get started now


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