Do You Know the Difference Between a Business Name vs. Trade Name?

One of the first things you do as a business owner is choose a business name. Your business can operate under your legal business name. Or, you can operate your company under a trade name. So, what’s the difference? Read on to learn more about business name vs. trade name and how they contrast.

Business name vs. trade name

What you call your business can make or break your company’s success. Sure, there are a lot of things that play a role in how successful your business is. But, your business’s name is definitely a key component.

Your business name is one of the first things potential customers notice about your company. It connects your customers to your products or services. With a good business or trade name, your business is one step closer to being successful.

When it comes to what you call your company, you need to know whether it’s more beneficial to use your business name or trade name. Find out the difference between business name and trade name below.

What is a business name?

A business name is your business’s legal name. It is the official name of the person or entity that owns a company. And, it’s the name you use on your government forms and business paperwork.

A business’s legal name can vary depending on its type of business structure. If you operate as a sole proprietorship, your business legal name is your full name (e.g., Jason Williams). You can include other words along with your full name (e.g., Jason Williams Insurance Corporation). However, you must include your full personal name if you have a sole proprietorship.

If you are an owner of a general partnership, the business name is typically a combination of the last names of the partnership’s owners and must be included in the partnership agreement.

Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations must establish their legal names when registering the business. Unlike other business structures, the business legal name for LLCs and corporations does not have to include any of the owners’ names to be the business name. However, some states require LLCs and corporations to include “LLC” or “Corporation” in their legal name (e.g., Rockwell Technology LLC).

What is a trade name for small business?

If a business owner wants to operate under a different name other than the company’s legal name, they can use a trade name instead.

A trade name does not need to include additional words or legal phrases (e.g., Corp, LLC, etc.). For example, a company’s trade name is Mike’s, but their legal business name is Mike’s Corporation. A business can opt to have their business name and trade name be the same.

A trade name may also be called a doing business as (DBA) name. It’s the name the public sees. Think of it as your business’s nickname. Businesses may use their trade or DBA name for marketing and sales purposes instead of their legal business name to help draw in more customers.

If you want to operate under a different name than your legal business name, register a trade name for your company. Every state and county has different rules for registering a DBA. Some require a separate fee and application for each DBA you register. Check with your jurisdiction for more information about

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