One of the first steps to take when starting a Texas business is to perform a Texas Business Search.
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts maintains records of Texas business entities that exist or have dissolved.
The database is free to use and makes it easy to find existing businesses or look to see if a business name may be available.
How to search Texas business names
The Texas Comptroller search tool is easy to navigate with the following business entity search options:
- Tax ID
- Entity Name
- File Number
To search by Tax ID enter the Tax ID number associated with the business and select “search.”
The entity name search option generates results for any businesses registered that match the keyword entered.
The results page breaks down business name by:
- View Details
- Taxpayer Identification Number
The “View Details” option gives additional details on the business name entered:
- Mailing Address
- Active/Inactive Status
- Effective Date
- Registered Agent Name
- Registered Office Address
If there is a business name that is of interest in the search results, check to see if the name has an inactive status and call the Texas Comptroller office directly by emailing [email protected]texas.gov. or calling them at 1-800-252-1386.
One example would be if a business wanted to start a BBQ restaurant called BBQ Express. That name is registered in the database but the business status shows that it the entity has been forfeited due to missing reports and payments
One thing to remember is that even though the desired business name may be available, it could have a registered trademark.
Performing a trademark search through the Trademark Electronic Search System before selecting a business name could prevent headaches in the future.
1. Check if the domain name is available
- 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 business 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 a Texas 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 Texas business entity
Business Licenses can be filed online with the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.
For further step-by-step instructions on how to file your LLC check out this Texas 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. Texas 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.
We recommend Novo Bank
Plan on running your business well
Texas business structure naming considerations
When selecting a Texas business name, it is important to understand the different naming requirements for each of the different entity types.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships
In Texas, sole proprietorships do not have to file with the Secretary of State to begin business operations. 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 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 Texas Secretary of State and must be unique.
A few reminders when naming LLCs:
- Texas 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 Texas 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 a Texas business name if it is not clearly distinguishable from the other business.
Corporations, like LLCs, are separate legal entities that require filing with the Texas Division of corporations. Corporations are fairly complex and typically used by large companies looking to issue stock and attract investors.
Corporation naming considerations:
- Texas 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.
Texas name reservation
If there is a Texas business name of interest but you are not ready to start the business, there is an option to reserve the business name for 120 days. The 120 day period can be renewed if additional time is needed. Name reservations can be filed through the SOSDirect site for $40.
Where can you register a business in Texas?
The Texas Secretary of State processes new business registrations through the following site: www.sos.state.tx.us. The Secretary of State website provides a variety of business forms, filing instructions,
How do you register a nonprofit?
Nonprofits are most commonly filed with the Secretary of State but they do not every nonprofit chooses to incorporate. The SOSdirect site provides step-by-step instructions that nonprofits should follow.
Should I file a Texas DBA?
A DBA (doing business as), or trade name, is a fictitious business name that companies operate under for business outside of the formal LLC name.
Here are a couple of benefits of DBAs:
- 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.
- 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’ names revealed publicly.
Where is the best place to get further information on business licenses and sales tax?
The Comptroller.texas.gov site does a great job covering a wide variety of FAQs that could help answer questions for business organizations.
Does Texas require a registered agent?
Texas Statutes states a Corporation continuously maintains a registered agent and a registered office for the purpose of a registered agent‘s statutory requirements.
One of the main benefits of using a third-party registered agent service company is that it adds a layer of privacy between the business and the general population. The registered agent receives all documents on a business’s behalf and can mail them to you privately.