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You might think that properly changing the name of your LLC is an involved and challenging process. But it’s actually pretty simple—and necessary—once you learn the exact steps you need to take. Here’s how to go about it.
Why Properly Changing The Name of Your LLC is Worth It
You originally named your business one thing. But now you’ve changed your mind and want to name it something else. Or something has changed, such as a partner leaving, a new partner joining, or your business is changing direction. That’s totally okay. You can definitely change the name.
One of the reasons you want to make sure you properly change the name of your LLC is because of the legalities that can be involved. The state your LLC is registered in needs to know the proper name your LLC identifies by.
Without proper documentation, your new LLC name won’t be registered and will be up for the taking by someone else if they happen to think of it too. Besides, it’s always helpful to have all your ducks in a row if you were to run into any legal issues in the future.
You don’t want to risk another business officially registering the name your company has been going by, nor taking the associated URLs and social media handles.
There can be many other reasons for changing the name of your LLC. Maybe you created a partnership and the name includes the name of a co-founder who is no longer with the business. Maybe the business has evolved and outgrown the name you once gave it. Or maybe in the original process of filing your LLC’s name, it wasn’t spelled correctly.
Whatever the reason, legally changing your LLC name is worth it. Depending on where it’s registered, it doesn’t have to be a lengthy process either.
The Investment Needed to Change The Name of Your LLC
The investment needed is really your time. You’ll have to take the time to amend your articles of organization. Depending on the state your LLC is registered in, you can either do this by hand or fill it out online. Once you fill out the appropriate paperwork and send it in to your local secretary of state, all you have to do is wait for approval.
However, this takes some getting organized. With business, there can often be a lot of paperwork that you have to keep track of. But if you take some time to organize everything, you won’t have to deal with piles of paperwork.
You can manage things digitally instead. For example, with a tool like Dropbox, you can keep all your paperwork in one place. It’s also easy to share information with different stakeholders for easier access.
Once you fill out the proper paperwork to change the name of your LLC, if you do it online, you can keep copies of your application and any other documents that come with it. It’s easy to get started with Dropbox.
All you have to do is open an account with your preferred email address. From there, you’ll be a lot more organized and have more peace of mind knowing your documents are safely in one place.
It’s also a stellar tool for managing teams as you can share and easily collaborate on documents. If you’re already having to deal with sending proposals, managing and filing contracts, sharing files, or collaborating on documents, Dropbox can help you make your paperwork management a breeze.
6 Steps to Change The Name of Your LLC
Here are six specific steps to changing your LLC name correctly and officially.
Step 1 – Get Organized
The first step to doing anything, especially anything as official as changing your business’s name, is to go out of your way to get organized. While it might be tempting to jump headfirst into the LLC name-changing process (or any other process for that matter), it’s always better to approach any task with an organized approach.
What does this look like? First, locate any paperwork you think you might need. Where are your articles of organization? Is your LLC co-owned? Talk to your co-founder about the best way to proceed so nobody is out of the loop.
Do you have your file number within reach? This is the number your Secretary of State issued you upon approval of your LLC. Have your EIN handy, too.
Consider making a list of stakeholders you’ll have to notify about your name change before moving forward. From there, you’ll feel more comfortable making final decisions.
Step 2 – Try The Option of Using A Fictitious Name Instead
In some cases, it might just be easier to file for a DBA or a “doing business as” name instead. A DBA is a business name that operates under the umbrella of your original LLC–like a nickname. You can go by the nickname for official purposes rather than legally changing the entire name.
For example, if your LLC is named Words, LLC, your DBA could be “The Words” (without the LLC) or even something totally different, like “Reading Room,” that would still be registered as a business under the original Words LLC name.
Filing for a DBA can be easy but will slightly vary from state to state. For instance, in the state of California, to file a DBA, you’d need to:
- Run a fictitious business name search in the California business name search
- File DBA paperwork within the county the business is registered
- Publish notice of your California DBA
Pretty straightforward, right? But wait, what’s the last part about publishing notice of your California DBA?
California does this as a way to ensure that your business name isn’t already taken. Within 30 business days of filing for your DBA, California requires you to publish a DBA statement in a newspaper within the county your business is registered in for about four weeks.
Getting a DBA might be something to consider if you’d prefer an alternative route to changing the original name of your LLC. Remember, though, creating a DBA doesn’t grant your business its own LLC protections. It’s still under the umbrella of your original LLC name.
So if, for example, there are other businesses registered under your LLC, if something were to happen to your other companies, it might affect the business you’re trying to file a DBA for since they’re all technically under the same LLC umbrella. This is a small yet crucial detail to consider if you’d rather just go with filing a DBA.
Step 3 – Research Your Local State’s Guidelines
To change your LLC’s name, you have to amend your articles of organization. This means filing the proper paperwork and getting it approved by the state. However, each state will approach things slightly differently, so you need to take the time to do the proper research and see what the correct procedure is for your specific state.
In some cases, you might have to fill out paperwork by hand; in others, you can fill out the paperwork online. Finding out more information about properly changing the name of your LLC can be as easy as Googling “LLC name change” and the name of your state.
Usually, .gov sites are the official websites run by the state. You should seek those out as the most precise source of information. From there, you can start filling out your paperwork. However, we always recommend you speak to your attorney first for any other more complicated name change processes.
It can be a little more complicated if you’re dealing with a franchise or want to change to a name similar to an existing one or if it seems to be already taken. In essence, if you’re unsure about the process of changing your name or you think there might be legal implications of some sort, consult with a trusted attorney.
Step 4 – Locate And Fill Out Your Articles Of Amendment
This step is pretty self-explanatory. As you fill in your paperwork, double-check everything for accuracy.
If you took the time to get organized earlier and gather all your relevant documents, this step should be a breeze. You might want to involve your co-founders in this part of the process, too.
For example, the state of California requires that you file articles of amendment (Form LLC – 2) to make the name change. You can either fill it out online or print it out and do it by hand. From there, it’s a matter of submitting your form either in person or by mail.
Step 5 – Wait For Approval And Make All Appropriate Name Changes
Approval wait time will vary from state to state. For example, in California, it could take two to three weeks or more.
Once you receive approval, take the time to change the names of your LLC where appropriate. Are you registered with affiliates that need to have accurate business information on file?
Do you have contracts with vendors that need the correct business name for invoices and recordkeeping? Are there any business bank accounts that need to be updated with the new name? Do you need to have a new logo created? Do you need to purchase a new website domain?
Create a checklist of all the places your business is registered with to avoid missing any. Though you might think you only need to change your name in a few places, once you make a list, you’ll be surprised at what other places you remember need a name change, too.
You can’t forget to change the name if you have a website. This might take making a domain name change. However, if you aren’t very savvy with technology, you’ll want to consult with a developer to help you point the new domain name to your site.
You also can’t forget about your social media handles. It’ll confuse your customers if you name your business one thing but appear on social platforms under a completely different name.
Step 6 – Keep A Record Of All Your Paperwork
As a business owner, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not keeping accurate records of all the changes and paperwork related to your business. This good practice helps cover you in case anything goes wrong. It’s also a way to stay organized and keep peace of mind so you can focus on other, more ROI-positive business tasks.
A tool like Dropbox makes keeping organized records of all your paperwork simple. It helps you get and stay organized, and it also enables you to share important documents and collaborate with team members.
Take the time to keep an accurate record of all your paperwork. From copies of applications to official records of acceptance from your Secretary of State. This way, finding them when you need them becomes an easy process that saves you time and makes your operations more efficient.
We just walked through the whole process of properly changing your LLC’s name. Easy, right? Find the appropriate articles of amendment for your state, fill them out either by hand or digitally, and then submit them and wait for approval.
To make sure you follow through with the name change process, make sure you let every relevant party know about your newfound name. Remember, you can also opt to file for a DBA instead if that would suit your business plans better.
As with all things business, it’s many small things like this that you always have to deal with daily. There’s always a problem to fix or something new to learn.
We have you covered in the learning department, with plenty of in-depth business guides to get you through all kinds of scenarios. Check out our guide on business partnerships. But if you’re focusing on your digital strategy right now, you’ll want to read through our guide to increasing your website speed and conversions.
However, maybe what you need help with is building a solid brand. That’s why we created this brand-building guide to help you get started. It goes over everything you need to know to build a solid brand that your customers will love from scratch.