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Naming Your Business (& Protecting It)

‘Show me, don’t tell me’ is a powerful way to meet the inevitable challenges arise. An entrepreneur’s determination to persevere can mean the difference between a successful mission and a failed idea.

Registering Your Business Name

Before your new business becomes a household name, you’ll have to decide what to call it. Activities like referring to your initial market research, using free online name generators, or coordinating creative brainstorm sessions with peers and colleagues can help you compile a detailed list of ideas.

Pick a name that aligns with your brand identity, mission statement, and product offering, then take the necessary steps to legally protect it. It’s time to make things official. Protect your business’ identity by registering with the appropriate local, state, and federal agencies. If not, you and your business could fail to reap rewards like personal liability protection, and legal and tax benefits.

With four legally independent ways of registering, how you do it is contingent on your business structure and location.

Entity Name:

  • Protection at the state level
  • How the state recognizes your business
  • Stops others in your state from doing business under the same name


  • Protection at the federal level
  • Prevents others in your industry in the U.S. from using your trademarked names for your business, goods, and services
  • Avoid a trademark infringement lawsuit by checking your names in the official U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database

Doing Business As (DBA):

  • No legal protection, but registering may be required by law in certain states (and for certain business structures)
  • Enables you to open a business bank account with the addition of a federal tax ID number
  • Less constraints since multiple companies can go by the same DBA in a single state

Domain Name:

  • Protection for your business’ web presence
  • No one else can use your registered URL as long as you maintain ownership and stay on top of regular renewal costs
  • Registration is managed through a registrar service — find one accredited by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)

Obtaining Federal & State Tax ID Numbers

Functioning as a social security number for your business, your Employer Identification Number (EIN) enables your small business to pay federal and state taxes, hire staff, and open a business bank account. Applying is free through the IRS, and you’ll receive your nine-digit EIN as soon as your application is verified.

If your business is subject to paying state taxes, you’ll need a state tax ID number. Although the process of getting a state tax ID number is similar to getting your EIN, it’s different in every state, so explore your state’s government websites for specific details.

Ready to get started? Click below to download your Build Your Business Blueprint.



What Drives J. Bruce Bugg, Jr: Serving the Community by Being a Servant Leader

San Antonio business owner and Chairman of The Bank of San Antonio, J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. doesn’t take his career of leadership in San Antonio for granted — he believes in earning trust every day.

Listen to his practical advice about growing an idea into a plan in his episode of The San Antonio Business Heroes podcast. 

The opinions expressed in the “San Antonio Business Heroes” are solely those of the interview subject and do not necessarily reflect any position or opinion of The Bank of San Antonio. The advice in each interview is given for general purposes only and may not apply to your particular situation.