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Business Name Change Helpful Hints

Posted on April 28, 2008 by Brian

What’s in a name? err, well, what’s in changing a name?

If you’ve been living in a cave you may not be aware that we recently launched OutdoorPros.com.  Ok, given the budget for our PR blitz you may get a pass on being up to speed with our new site.  There’s lots to discuss related to the strategy behind this new venture and the execution of our plan, but I’d like to boil this post down to one of the more practical aspects of this step in our growth.

When our plans to launch into a new industry began to take shape my mind quickly began running through some of the ancillary components of the effort.  Sure, we needed to build the site, establish supply, prepare marketing campaigns, and so forth, but we also needed to decide how to organize our business entity, finances, accounting, and banking around two, at that time distinct, businesses.

Long story short, we ultimately decided to create a parent company to house our various website businesses.  This decision combined with other factors has thrust us into the throws of upgrading our accounting system, changing banks, and establishing financial and operational reporting and metrics at the parent and child organizational levels.

Wow, that’s a long intro to present a few tips I hope are helpful if you find yourself in a position to change your business name.  You see, in the midst of all these dominoes, one task was to change our name and form the parent/child entities.

Our business machine has been chugging along for a while now and when I dove into our files titled “business formation”, “operating agreement”, “meeting minutes”, “business license”, etc. I quickly found myself in a pile of paperwork.  After having plowed my way through, with much help from fellow blogger Ellen, we nursed our paper cuts and got the process completed.  So, without further ado, here are the steps/tidbits presented in the order we attacked the change:

 

  1. Make sure you can secure the necessary domain names and do so.  This is obvious to the online community by now.  If you can’t get the domain names, and I’m not talking about some slightly off version of them, pick a different name. 

  2. Depending on the type of business entity you have, ours is an LLC, it may be wise to document the meeting minutes when members voted to accept the motion to change the company name.  Along these lines, this would be a good time to challenge your business type given that the new name may represent significant changes.  It may be time to grow out of that sole proprietor status and into a single member LLC, or an S-Corp.  Consult your attorney and accountant; we certainly did before deciding to stick with the LLC. 

  3. Consider updating any Operating Agreement or Partnership Agreement you may have.  We were able to add a simple addendum to make the name change.  It’s a simple process and can keep the flow of changes well documented and straight forward. 

  4. And the fun part… here is an overview of some agencies we dealt with to make the change, as a California LLC:
    • We filed with the Secretary of State to change the name of the LLC to the new parent company name.
    • We were able to keep our existing Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) but needed to change the name.
    • We were able to keep our existing State Employer Identification Number (SEIN) with the Employment Development Department (EDD) but needed to change the name.
    • We filed for Fictitious Business Names, or DBA’s, in the name of the parent company and the two sites we currently operate with the new parent company as the registrant.
    • We filed for a business license in each Fictitious Business Name.
    • We updated our seller’s permit with the Board of Equalization.

  5. Finally, plan a fun afternoon of errands.  The county building, the city building, the post office, some shady underground newspaper company that writes your credit card number on a post-it with a crayon, and you are done!


Well, done with that task.  Now its merchant accounts, credit lines, POS integration, and QuickBooks vs. Peachtree.  Hope this sparks some ideas and reminders.  And of course, let me know if I missed anything!  (I’ll blame it on Ellen, as the company fall girl she’s used to that.)

 

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