Starting your own business can feel exhilarating and can hold the promise of success for years to come. While you might be tempted to jump right in with both feet, it's important to register your business name and become a legal business before you do. Like other states, Colorado offers business registration for a wide range of entities, and you should be able to find the proper forms online.
Choose a Business Name
Choosing your business name is important because your name helps set the tone for everything you do, and it is how your customers will find you most often. If possible, choose a name that reflects what you do through your business, your mission or your values. Consider the following factors when coming up with a business name:
- Your name
- Your business partner's name
- Your line of work
- Services you offer
- Your geographic location
- Your mission, values and purpose
- What similar businesses have named themselves
Search for Name Availability
Before you can register your business's name, it is important to ensure that the name you hope to claim is not already taken. The Colorado Secretary of State maintains a name availability search webpage where you can enter the name you hope to claim in order to see if it is already taken.
It is wise to have two or three possible names in mind so that you have options if someone else has already taken the business name you wanted. You might also be able to add initials to the end of your business name to change it slightly from a business name that has already been claimed.
Choose the Proper Business Type
The Colorado Secretary of State's website offers forms for several types of businesses. It is important to choose the form appropriate to your business model. Available offerings include:
- Limited liability corporation (LLC)
- Profit corporation
- Nonprofit corporation
The website also offers the option to reserve a name for later use or to establish a trade name. Partnerships, conversions and foreign entities also have forms available. When in doubt about which business type is most suited to the work you plan to do, consult a lawyer or tax professional who is well versed in business law and tax codes.
File the Appropriate Forms
In order to secure your business name in the state of Colorado, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms online. You should be prepared to include a variety of information about yourself and your business, such as:
- Business street address
- Business mailing address
- Registered agent contact information
- Your address and contact information
- Management or membership information
If you are forming a nonprofit organization, you must also include information on how assets will be distributed in the event that your organization dissolves. Some nonprofits elect to leave this information vague, while others specifically allocate assets to be distributed to particular nonprofit organizations. For instance, an animal rescue might allocate assets to be distributed to another animal rescue organization should their rescue dissolve.
Fees to Register a Business Name in Colorado
Once your online form is complete, take a moment to look over everything and ensure all information is accurate. You will need to submit this form along with the appropriate fee. While fees vary, both limited liability corporations and nonprofit organizations are expected to pay a $50 fee in order to register their business name and articles of incorporation.
You should wait a few days and then check the name availability search page to ensure that your business name is showing up as taken. Once everything is complete, you can move forward with other important steps in setting up your business, such as securing an EIN and opening a business bank account.
- Some forms completed online require an attachment. If this is the case, you will be informed at the bottom of the form, and you should follow the special directions for including attachments.
Anne Kinsey is an entrepreneur and business pioneer, who has ranked in the top 1% of the direct sales industry, growing a large team and earning the title of Senior Team Manager during her time with Jamberry. She is the nonprofit founder and executive director of Love Powered Life, as well as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach, certified HRV biofeedback practitioner and freelance writer who has written for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle and Our Everyday Life. Anne works from her home office in rural North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three children.