When you register a business with Companies House, one of the pieces of information they will ask you for is the name of your company. This can be one of the most fun elements of going it alone, but it does warrant some serious consideration as the likelihood is that it will be a name that you are going to use in marketing materials and one which will form the basis of your website too.
You cannot reserve a company name unless you register it, so it usually makes sense to make a decision at the time of registration rather than choosing one which may not be available when you actually come to commit to a business name. Clients are also advised to ensure that their registration has been completed before spending money on stationery, signage or any other branded materials.
It is important to give it some thought before committing to a company name and there are some rules set down by HMRC which you will need to consider when making your decision.
Names already in use
When you are choosing a name for your business, it is worth checking the Companies House register to see if the name you want is already in use by another business. This is certainly something Orange Genie Accountancy are able to help you with. You will not be able to use a name that is already being used by a business, even if it includes your actual name, so we advise not to get your heart set on any particular name until you have checked the register.
You cannot register a name that is similar to another business which is already registered. These come under two categories in the official Companies House guidance - ‘same as’ and ‘too like’.
‘Same as’ names are those which are considered to be identical to that of a company which is already registered, but with the addition of punctuation or a special character. This could include an apostrophe, brackets, a plus sign or similar, or any of the words that HMRC disregard for the purposes of distinguishing between business names.
The words that are disregarded are generally those which are generic enough that their use doesn’t distinguish one business from another. These include terminology relating to the business’s status such as ‘limited’, ‘public limited company’, ‘charitable incorporated organisation’ as well as variations of these, including abbreviations such as LTD and their Welsh equivalents.
Words which are commonly used in web or email addresses are also disregarded, including the ‘@’ sign, ‘co.uk’, ‘com’, ‘org’, ‘net’ and any other web suffixes. Terms commonly used by businesses such as ‘& co’, ‘company’, ‘UK’ and ‘United Kingdom’ are included on the list as are plurals, and commonly used prefixes such as ‘the’ and ‘www’.
Letters which are similar to others are also considered to be the same for the purposes of company registration, meaning that a letter with an accent will be considered the same as one without (or indeed with any other type of accent). The word ‘and’ is considered interchangeable with an ampersand, as are the word ‘plus’ and the ‘+’ symbol and all numbers are considered to be the same whether written as a numeral or in full.
The ‘too like’ category focusses on names which sound or look the same, so would include names which sound the same but are spelled differently such as ‘hard rocks’ and ‘hard rox’, and those which might be pronounced differently but look very similar when written down such as ‘Hallidays Holidays’ and ‘Halidays Holidays’.
Names which differ from businesses which are already registered by a matter of a few symbols or characters will usually be rejected as ‘too like’ another.
Sensitive Words and Expressions
It is not possible to register a business name that contains what Companies House describe as ‘sensitive’ words, terminology or expressions. These are words that are deemed to have a specific function, the misuse of which could cause harm to the general public or mislead them.
These terms include those which would confer a certain protected status on a business which is inappropriate such as ‘tribunal’, ‘institute’ or certain company names prefixed with the word ‘British’ where this could imply a level of officiality which is not deserved.
It is also not possible to register a name which implies any connection with the UK government, any administrative office of the government or any local or specific public authority. Registration of company names including words which are used for or imply a regulated activity are also not allowed, except by businesses which are subject to those regulations.
What should you call your business?
Once you have an idea of the terms which you shouldn’t use, you are still left with a huge amount of choice about what to call your business. If you have built up a reputation in your field or have completed a significant amount of work under your own name, then you may wish to capitalise on that by including your name in that of your business. Anyone with a common name should consider whether there are any other practitioners in their sector who are already operating under a similar name to avoid confusion.
It is also important to consider what you do, who will be looking for your services and what terminology they might use. If you provide a specialist service, then including any particular skill areas in your business name, especially those which are in high demand, could help potential clients to find you. However, it is important to consider whether you might want to diversify in the future, or whether the skills you are offering might change or become obsolete in the future – you don’t want to be stuck with a name that no longer represents your core business, and changing it can be confusing for clients, not to mention costly if you need to rebrand.
Sometimes, a generic name can be best, especially if you can make it one which gives a good indication of what you do but doesn’t limit your future opportunities too much. It is worth checking that there is a suitable domain name available for your business to ensure that you will be able to create a web presence that matches your business name.
It’s also important to consider how a company name with more than one word will work without spaces in a web or email address. There are some famous examples of when businesses have failed to consider this and ended up with unintentional double meanings, so think about the possible ways in which you may wish to present your business name before settling on one.
It is important to consider the long term future of your business when you are picking a name for it, so it’s always best to try and strike a balance between names that are too limiting, those that are too vague and those which might date your business prematurely. Once you find something that sounds right, take the plunge and make it all official.
Once you’ve successfully chosen a name for your Ltd company, you are one step closer to opening and running your own business.
What happens next?
Once the company is formed you will receive two documents; your certificate of incorporation, and, your memorandum and article of association. At this point, you’ll need to send your certificate of incorporation to your recruitment agency, or the end client you shall be working with so your contract can be issued. We can do this for you if you request it. We will send you an engagement letter so that we can start to provide you with advice. It takes just two minutes to sign this letter electronically! From this point, you will be assigned your very own dedicated accountant who will look after you every step of the way and introduce you to our award winning online accounting platform called FreeAgent. Here you’ll learn how to manage your business finances.
Here at Orange Genie Accountancy we work with hundreds of contractors, freelancers, and recruitment agencies. One of the many reasons we’re so popular is because our onboarding process is so quick and easy. We’ll have you set up within 24 hours. So if you’ve looking for a compliant and friendly contractor accountancy firm to set up your Limited company, get in touch today