One of the first steps to take when starting an Arkansas business is to perform an Arkansas Business Search. 

The Arkansas Secretary of State maintains a database of Arkansas business entities that exist or have dissolved.  

The corporation search platform is free to use and makes it easy to find existing businesses or see if a business name may be available.

How to search Arkansas business names

Searching for Arkansas businesses is done through the Arkansas.gov site.

Arkansas Corporations and LLCs are searchable by the following criteria:

  • Corporation Name
  • Fictitious Name
  • Registered Agent
  • RA City or State
  • Filing Number

Arkansas corporation name

The “Name” search query is the most commonly used when performing a business entity search. Enter in the business name and select “search,” and the database will generate any names related to the name entered. 

There are options to search by corporation type or search by “All Types” of corporations.

The Arkansas Secretary of State business search will generate results for both current and inactive businesses related to the search query.

Registered Agents

The registered agent filter generates results for registered agents that have filed entities in the state of Arkansas. 

  • Enter a full or last name and select “search.”  The search results will generate all corporations that are associated with the statutory name entered.

Fictitious name

The fictitious business name search generates results for DBA names registered in Arkansas.

Filing number

Enter the Arkansas filing number associated with the registered corporation and select “search”.

Arkansas name search status

If a business struggles to think of a good business name, one way to generate ideas is to look through the search results list to see if any expired names could fit the business. 

For example, suppose someone wanted to open up a new Italian restaurant. In that case, they could enter “Italian” into the search bar and generate a list of ideas that are available based on the business status results:

The status description will give business owners ideas of potential name based on how they are classified:

  • Good Standing
  • Forfeited Charter
  • Dissolved
  • Withdrawn
  • Administratively Dissolved
  • Not Current

If there is a name that is not in good standing there is a possibility that the name could be used.  In these situations, it is recommended to reach out to the Secretary of State’s office to get the green light to use the name. The SOS phone number is 501-682-1010.

Next steps

1. Check domain name availability

  • Many of the .com domain names with six or fewer letters are already taken, so getting creative may be necessary. Websites like Namechk and GoDaddy can help filter available domain names and suggest alternatives that may be a good fit.
  • While a .com is the most familiar domain extension used, extensions like .co, .net, and .io are becoming more commonly used as the internet ages and can be a good fit once a company name is selected.

2. Check if the social media name is available

In the digital age, it is essential to have a solid social media presence. Customers will often check sites like Yelp and Google Reviews to gauge what others think about a business. Some other tips on social media for an Arkansas business entity:

  • Having a strong social media presence for small businesses is an excellent way to boost organic presence on the web, impress customers, and build awareness.
  • Unfortunately, like domain names, social media handles are often hoarded. Make sure to check sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest to ensure the handle is not being used.
  • If the handle is available, lock the username in place to make sure it is not taken.
  • Software platforms like SocialPilot can help simplify managing various social media platforms.

3. Register Arkansas business entity

After selecting a business name, businesses can register their incorporation with the Arkansas Secretary of State office. 

Another option is to file with companies like Northwest Registered Agent, Incfile, or ZenBusiness, who can take care of the filings for as little as $0 plus state filing fees

For further step-by-step instructions on how to file your LLC check out this Arkansas LLC Guide.

4. Register TAX ID/EIN with the IRS

An EIN is a nine-digit number that identifies a business for tax purposes. Think of it as a social security number for businesses. Filing your EIN for a limited liability company (LLC) is straightforward and can be done online. Arkansas corporations can register for a Tax ID for $79 with Swyft Filings.

5. Create a logo

Similar to selecting a good business name, businesses with a great logo impress customers, help distinguish themselves from the competition, and create a positive visual memory of your unique business services for customers.

With the emergence of freelance marketplaces, it is easy to get a logo done on Fiverr in 24 hours or less.

6. Write a business plan

Writing a business plan can help organize business owners’ ideas and create a pathway for businesses to follow. Having a professionally written business plan also impresses investors and helps create accountability.

Liveplan.com is a business plan software that can help make the process easy as they have over 500 sample plans to choose from.

Businesses that form partnerships should consider having a professional operating agreement

7. Open a business bank account

Having a business bank account is required for businesses as it helps keep business and personal finances separate. It also helps build business credibility in the event business loans are needed to grow the business in the future. 

Businesses must have a business mailing address in order to open a business bank account and are not allowed to use a PO box as their primary mailing address.

Lili and Novo are online banks that specialize in working with freelancers and entrepreneurs.

We recommend Novo Bank

Built for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers.

8. Setup an email account

Google Workspace can help set up an @yourcompany email address for as little as $6 per month.

Plan on running your business well

Google Workspace helps with email addresses, team collaboration, productivity, and more.

9. Register a trademark

One of the easiest ways to file a trademark is through Legalzoom. They have options to file by themselves or pay an additional fee to have an attorney take care of the filings.

Arkansas business structure naming considerations

When selecting an Arkansas business name, it is important to understand the different naming requirements for each entity type.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships

In Arkansas, sole proprietorships do not have to file with the corporation division to begin business operations. In addition, sole Proprietorships typically operate under a person’s name, so there is no need to perform a business name search in most situations.

Like Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships are relatively easy to file and generally include all partners’ last names (ex: Smith, Jones, and Lasalle). 

LLCs

LLCs are separate legal entities that separate owners’ business interests, debts, and liabilities from personal responsibilities. Names for LLCs are required to be filed with the Alabama Secretary of State and must be unique.

A few reminders when naming LLCs:

  • Arkansas business names must include the words “LLC, L.L.C., or the phrase limited liability company. “LLC” is most commonly used after a business name, so we recommend using that abbreviation when filing Arkansas articles of organization.
  •  An LLC name should not include the terms Inc., Corporation, Corp, or Incorporated in the LLC name.
  • The state may not approve An Arkansas business name if it is not clearly distinguishable from the other business.

Corporations

Corporations, like LLCs, are separate legal entities that require filing with the Secretary of State.  Corporations are fairly complex and typically used by large companies looking to issue stock and attract investors.

Corporation naming considerations:

  • Corporations must include “corp”, “corporation”, “Inc”, “limited”, or “company” in the business name to indicate that it is a corporation.
  • S Corporations are subject to the same naming requirements as traditional corporations.
  • Professional Corporations must indicate that they are one by using “professional corporation” by using the letters “PC” instead of typical corporate designation.

FAQs

How do you get Arkansas business licenses?

The Arkansas.gov portal maintains information on applicable licenses required for different industries throughout the state.

Does Arkansas require an annual report?

The Arkansas Corporate Franchise Tax Act of 1979 requires all corporations to pay franchise tax in Arkansas. For further information check out the www.sos.arkansas.gov site.

Can you reserve an Arkansas business name?

Yes, Arkansas business names can be reserved with the Secretary of State’s office for 120 days by filing the name reservation form

Is a registered agent required to file an LLC in the state of Arkansas?

A registered agent is someone that is designated to receive official papers for your LLC, LLP, or corporation. individuals are able to act as their own registered agent as long as a physical address (p.o. box is not allowed) is used in the state where your business entity is formed.

One of the main benefits of using a third-party registered agent company is that it adds a layer of privacy between the business and the general population. The registered agent company receives all documents on a business’s behalf and can mail them to you privately.

Northwest Registered Agent offers free mail forwarding and has a great reputation in the industry.

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Why should I file a trademark? How do I file?

A trademark gives entrepreneurs legal protections over their brand. As your Arkansas business grows, competitors tend to pop up to try and compete against you in the marketplace. 

A trademark sends a message to competitors that may be looking into your niche that you mean business. 

Trademarks also grow in value as your business grows and increases brand recognition. If you are ever hoping to sell your business down the line, having a solid trademark can add to your valuation.

Suppose your business has a physical product that you are looking to sell on sites like Amazon. In that case, there are special features businesses can access with a registered trademark, which helps prevent infringement on your products.

  • Because the database is very complex to navigate, some people prefer to pay companies like Legalzoom to do the work for them.
  • Check out the Legalzoom Trademark options to see if it makes sense for your limited liability company once you have zeroed in on an entity name.

Should I file a DBA

A DBA (doing business as), or trade name, is a fictitious name that companies operate under for business outside of the formal LLC name. DBA names are filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State or can be filed with companies like Incfile.com.

Here are a couple of benefits of DBAs:

  1. Expansion possibilities: having a DBA enables businesses to expand past their original business and without starting a new business entity. Simply creating a new DBA and operating under the existing LLC is all that would be needed.
  2. Privacy: One of the best benefits of having a DBA is that it gives businesses the ability to operate under a fictitious business name and not have owners’ personal names revealed publicly.