Validating Your Business Name – How-to Guide

So you’ve got some options for names and now you want to see whether they work for you or not. This section will help you validate these names and check your social handles.

The most important things you'll need to check are whether anyone else is using the business name, whether the domain name is available, and whether the social media handles are available.

Here's how to validate your business name.


First things first, is anyone else using the name? At this point you need to figure out if the name is completely unique, or if you’ve stumbled upon a name that might already be taken.

There are two steps to this process, Rapid Validation, and Deep Validation.

Step one: Rapid Validation

The quickest way to tell if a name is taken or not is a quick Google search.

Usually simply typing in the name into Google will pull up whether a competitor is currently using that name or anything similar enough to cause issues. Take a look at the first couple of pages and see if any competitors pop up.

If your business is local, pull up Google Maps and zoom out to see if any companies come up.

It also helps to search on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) to make sure the company is operating but doesn’t have a website.

If you pass this step, move onto the next validation method to double check.

Step two: Deep Validation

The Deep Validation step searches through the lists of businesses registered with your state and a nationwide trademark search. This is the step that ensures your name is not already taken.

This is also one of the steps a new business has to go through when registering their business with the state.


Every state has a business entity search that lets you look up LLCs, Corporations, etc. registered in that state. This should give you a good start to make sure your business name is unique in the state you’re registering in.

Directory of State Business Entity Search Links

In addition to checking with your state, you also need to check whether the name is trademarked. Use the government’s trademark search to make sure your name isn’t legally protected already.

US Government Trademark Search

Using A Service

Instead of doing the search yourself, companies like LegalZoom will search on your behalf, including trademark searches. Here are a few options for services and their fees.

ServiceName SearchLinkTrademark SearchLink
LegalZoom$49Start Here$199Start Here

You found a competitor

If you find another company using the perfect name you came up with, it might not be the end of the world. Let’s talk about what’s acceptable. Here are some scenarios you might encounter:

  1. Name already used, but in another state
    If the name is not trademarked, it’s possible to use that same name. Of course there’s a risk of running into trademark issues in the future, so it can be risky.
  2. Company using name in different industry
    Though there are exceptions, generally names are restricted to their industries. For example, a software company and a food company could potentially have the same or very similar names.

    This means that if you found a name that works really well for you, and you find a company that’s already using it, and first make sure it’s not in a competing industry.

    Of course, there are exceptions, the biggest one being that large companies will protect their name across all industries. For example, you can’t create a Nike restaurant.
  3. Name is trademarked If the name you fell in love with is trademarked, your options are really limited here. Technically, the name has to be at least 1 letter different to be unique. However, the court could argue it creates “market confusion”, so tread lightly here.

When you’re ready to trademark your name, we trust Trademark Engine for trademarking services

Domain Names

The next step is finding a domain name that works for your company.

Step 1: Check for and register your domain

Go to a registrar like Hover or NameCheap to check whether your business name is available.

Domain Name Alternatives

If the .com is taken, sometimes you can try to buy it from the owner, but failing that, here are some other options:

  1. Consider a different top level domain like a .io or .store.
  2. You can also try different word combinations, but in general avoid dashes or underscores.
  3. Add an action verb like “get” or “try” to make it unique.

Pro-tip: do not use GoDaddy for this. They have been known to register high quality domains when a customer searches in order to try to sell it back them. I avoid them like the plague.

Step 2: Set up email with Google Workspace

Once you have your domain setup, set up your Google Workspace so you have your emails, Drive, Docs and Sheets under the main domain.

Social Media Handles

Now you need your social media handles

You can search for your handle on each platform separately, or here are a couple of tools to search for handles across multiple platforms all at once.


BrandSnag Social Media Handle Checker

DNSChecker Social media Handle Checker

The best scenario is your business name with no spaces. If that’s not available, you can try underscores, action words like “get” or “try”, or adding the type of product to the end of it, like course, sheets, etc.

It’s a great idea to have all your social media accounts share the same handle, but it’s not necessarily required.

Putting it all together

The best domains and social handles are short, memorable, and readable.

Adding random letters or words at the beginning or end of a domain or handle will make it less memorable, and lower someone’s trust in its legitimacy.

Once you’ve found the perfect name, register your domain on Hover or NameCheap, set up your Google Workspace, and lock-in your domain names. Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
author avatar
Charles Forster Director of Product
Charles is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the startup technology world. He is currently the Director of Product at VersioPay, a payment processing startup. Along with writing on his personal blog,, he also writes about entrepreneurship and personal development for A Better Founder.

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