Depending on your business structure and location, you may need to register your online business with state agencies. This involves filing paperwork such as an article of organization and an operating agreement.
You should also get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax and banking purposes. Lastly, you should register your entity name (a DBA) to prevent others from using the same name.
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Pick a Unique Name
Whether starting an LLC, corporation, or sole proprietorship, choosing a business name is essential for legal registration and establishing brand identity. It’s important to cast a wide net in terms of ideas when brainstorming and get feedback from friends, family, and potential customers to find the best fit.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of business names, search online to ensure they aren’t already being used as trademarks or listed on the state’s fictitious or assumed business name register. If a similar name is already in use, it may confuse customers and can lead to lawsuits.
Some people choose to use their name as their business name because it can make the company seem more human and trustworthy to buyers. However, this practice can also be risky if another person with the same name starts a competing company; it’s possible for customers to become confused and for businesses to lose revenue. Additionally, using a personal name can be seen as generic and non-distinctive. This can make it hard for customers to remember your business name and brand, which is critical for building brand recognition.
Register a Domain Name
Domain names are the unique addresses that allow people to access websites and other online services. Registering your domain name is crucial in setting up an online business.
Ensure that your chosen domain name is available before proceeding with the registration process. A quick search on a registrar’s website should reveal whether your preferred domain is already taken. If it is, you may be able to contact the owner and negotiate a price.
Remember that when you register your business online, your domain name should reflect your company or brand. It should also be easy to pronounce and share, making it easier for customers to remember. Hyphens and numbers can add to the complexity of a domain, so avoid them whenever possible.
When you find a domain name that matches your desired business, purchase it from the registrar of your choice. Most registrars offer additional services, such as domain privacy, which hides your details from public records. This service typically costs less than PS1 monthly and is included in some web hosting plans.
Register a Company
Online business registration is a crucial first step for creating credibility and setting yourself up for success in the cutthroat digital marketplace. This process involves registering your business with the appropriate governmental agencies, acquiring necessary permits or licenses, and adhering to relevant laws and regulations.
The registration process varies by location and business structure, so research what is required in your state or country. This might include articles of incorporation, forms, fees, and registered agent requirements. Depending on where you plan to operate, you may also need to register your business for sales tax or other local taxes.
Starting a new business requires strategic planning and considered preparation. While it is possible to conduct business as a sole proprietorship without registering, incorporating and establishing an online business registration offers many protections and incentives for growing your business and inspires trust in customers. Check out our business registration guides to learn more about registering your business and building a successful online presence. Square does not provide legal or tax advice, so consult an attorney and a tax advisor for more information specific to your situation.
Register a Trademark
Registering a trademark is an important step for any new business. It establishes legal business ownership and can also build trust with customers.
A trademark can be a word, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes the goods or services of your business from those of others. To ensure you have a legally defensible mark, the USPTO recommends businesses choose fanciful marks that aren’t found in the dictionary and avoid descriptive words or names that suggest what your business does (for example, “cafe” for a coffee shop).
Before filing, research similar marks using the TESS system and the Trademark ID Manual online. Suppose the examining attorney feels your mark is too similar to an existing one. In that case, they will send you an office action that will likely require significant changes before your application can be approved.
If your mark is accepted, the USPTO will publish it in an online journal to allow everyone else to oppose it. This process can take about three months. If you get an opposition, hiring a trademark attorney to help you defend your mark is a good idea.
Register a Business Address
As you register your business, consider whether you want to use your home address. While sole proprietors and general partnerships don’t have to provide a physical business address when registering, LLCs and corporations must name a Registered Agent who has regular business hours and can receive official mail. While you can act as your Registered Agent, doing so will make your address public — and potentially expose you to junk mailers, angry customers, and pushy vendors. Using a virtual business address instead gives you a more professional image and separates your business from your home address. It also helps you set up dedicated business bank accounts, which reduces bookkeeping confusion, makes tax time easier, and can build your company’s credit history. Plus, adding additional virtual addresses as your business grows is simple.