Embarking on a new business in Colorado? Check our guide on how to confirm your business name’s uniqueness in the state database.
Colorado Secretary of State Entity Search
How to check if the desired LLC name is available for use in Colorado
To determine if your chosen LLC name is available, you can perform a Colorado entity search by using the state’s online database. You can search the Colorado Secretary of State’s business database in these ways:
- Trade name
- Identification number
- Document number
What is a Business Entity?
A business entity refers to an organization established and recognized by law as existing separately from its owners. It’s created for the purpose of conducting business activities, and it can take various forms based on the nature and structure of the business.
Here are some common types of business entities:
- Sole Proprietorship: This is the simplest form of business entity, owned and run by one individual. The owner is personally liable for all business debts and obligations.
- Partnership: This is a business owned by two or more people who share the profits and liabilities of the business. There are different types of partnerships, including general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships.
- Corporation: This is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners. It can make a profit, be taxed, and can be held legally liable. Corporations offer the strongest protection to its owners from personal liability, but they are costlier to form and require more extensive record-keeping, operational processes, and reporting.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC): This is a hybrid structure that combines the legal protections of a corporation with the tax benefits and operational flexibility of a partnership. The “owners” of an LLC are referred to as “members.” Depending on the state, the members can consist of one single individual (one owner), two or more individuals, corporations, or other LLCs.
- Nonprofit Organization: This is an entity organized to focus on a cause or mission that is not about making a profit. While they can earn a profit, all profits must be reinvested into the nonprofit’s mission-related work. Nonprofits are typically tax-exempt, but must apply for this status and meet specific guidelines.
The choice of the business entity depends on a variety of factors, including liability, taxation, and regulatory requirements, as well as the needs and goals of the business owner(s).
An advanced search can be used to reduce the number of results. This is especially useful when you want to verify that the business name you are interested in is still available. Advanced searches allow you to view all the information on the businesses that are available.
You won’t have the ability to register any business that looks similar to your chosen LLC. Instead, you will need to create a new one.
The status of the business will be displayed in the search function. While it may seem like the business is gone, some statuses don’t necessarily mean that the name is available for sale. To avoid any legal problems with other companies, you should still choose an LLC name.
Enter your preferred LLC name when searching the Colorado state database. It doesn’t matter if you capitalize words, because the search will return all results. Your preferred LLC name should be entered next to the “Business Name, Trademark, or Trade Name” section of the website.
After you’ve performed a search, the database will provide a list with entities that have similar names. Click on the names to get more information. These are the contents of the information:
- The ID number of the entity
- Document number
- Formation date
Once the website has generated search results for your page you can click on the ID number to view all information about the entity. Other functions will be available, such as the ability to purchase a Certificate of Good Standing. To get the most information, perform an advanced search.
You can try again searching with more specific keywords if you get overwhelmed by the number of results. You can search for as many names as you like without being charged. This search is essential before you form your LLC.
To ensure that there are no conflicts with your business, take plenty of time for the search.
Secretary of State Entity Name Search: Colorado
Contact Information for Colorado
- Searching for Colorado businesses is done through the Colorado Secretary of State’s site
- Select the “Name Availability Search” filter on the homepage and look up the desired business name.
- File for a new business entity through the Colorado Secretary of State website
- Contact the Colorado Secretary Of State by calling 303-894-2200 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Mountain Time. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to get a quick reply.
Colorado Requirements and Restrictions in Forming an LLC Name
Each LLC name must contain the words “Limited Liability Company” at least once, even if it means adding the abbreviation L.L.C. or L.L.C. to the end. If you want to start a landscaping company and use the name Fred’s Landscaping, LLC, you must file the paperwork.
However, the LLC name cannot imply that it is a corporation. You should not use the words “corporation,” “corp.,” “inc.,” or “incorporated” in your LLC name.
Your LLC name must be distinct from other entities. To make your LLC name unique, you can’t simply modify an existing business name’s grammar or punctuation, such as the plural or possessive forms of words, to make it your own.
If you choose to call your business Acme Farm, LLC, but Acme Farms LLC is the search result, your preferred name cannot be used. Also, you can’t use words such as “and”, “or”, “&,”, or add extra punctuation. Your LLC name cannot be misleadingly similar to another.
Tips to Form an LLC Name
Your LLC name should be unique and not similar to any other Colorado entity. These tips can help you:
- Make it easy to spell the name
- Keep your names short and easy to remember
- Select a name that has positive connotations
What is a Colorado DBA?
You may have come across the term DBA when establishing your company. This stands for “doing Business as” and indicates that the company uses a secondary Colorado name. You will need to file a DBA to allow you to use the secondary name. This is also known as a tradename.
If you intend to operate under a different business name than the owner of the company, open accounts under a tradename or prevent trademark infringement, you may need a DBA.
CO Business Entity
Starting an LLC in Colorado involves several key steps, with the first being a Colorado entity name search to ensure your proposed business name isn’t already taken. Upon securing a unique name, you’ll then create a Colorado LLC operating agreement, outlining the internal operations of the company.
If you’re keen on privacy and you’re prepared to meet legal requirements, you can even be your own registered agent in Colorado. Though the length of time to get an LLC in Colorado varies, typically it takes a few weeks.
Once the LLC is formed, you will need to understand how to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, from the IRS for tax purposes.
There are several top LLC formation services in Colorado to guide you through this process if necessary. To further streamline the process, the best registered agent services in Colorado are available to handle legal notifications on your behalf.
Next, you’ll need to get a business license in Colorado, which can be obtained from the Secretary of State’s office. The cost to start an LLC in Colorado is relatively affordable, involving a small filing fee.
As time goes by, you may need to know how to close and dissolve a Colorado LLC, this procedures that can be handled by a Colorado registered agent.
1. Trademark Search
When searching for a business name, it’s important to note that availability doesn’t necessarily mean the name is free to use if it’s already a registered trademark.
To avoid potential complications down the line, it’s wise to conduct a thorough trademark search using the Trademark Electronic Search System before finalizing a business name.
2. Choose a Registered Agent
After you have chosen an LLC name that is distinctive and unique, you can now choose your LLC’s Registered Agent.
3. Check if the Domain Name is Available
To check if a domain name is available, you can follow these steps:
- Go to a domain registrar website, such as GoDaddy.com or Namecheap.com.
- In the search bar on the homepage, type in the domain name you want to check.
- Click on the search button to see if the domain name is available or not.
- If the domain name is available, you will be prompted to purchase it. If it’s not available, the registrar will suggest some alternative options or you can try a different domain name.
It’s a good idea to check the availability of multiple domain name options as your first choice may already be taken.
Additionally, if you are considering registering a domain name for your business, make sure to also check for any existing trademarks that may conflict with your chosen domain name.
4. Check if Social Media Name is Available
To check if a social media name is available for a new business, you can follow these steps:
- Start by choosing a social media platform where you would like to create an account for your business. Some of the popular options include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok.
- Once you have selected the platform, go to the sign-up page and try to create an account using your desired social media name.
- If the name is already taken, the platform will display an error message indicating that the name is not available. In this case, you may need to consider alternative names for your social media account.
- If the name is available, the platform will allow you to create an account using that name.
- It’s important to note that just because a social media name is available, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s free to use. You should still do your due diligence to ensure that the name is not already a registered trademark or being used by another business in your industry.
5. Register Colorado Business Entity
When you complete the required documents for filing a new business entity, you then register your business and business name with the state. The state of Colorado will either approve your business name or reject it.
If you hire a good LLC service like Northwest Registered Agent, ZenBusiness or Incfile, these LLC services have business name tools available for you to do a quick search. I recommend using any of these 3 services to assist you with forming a new business. They can save you time and provide you with guidance through the formation process.
6. Register an Employer ID Number (EIN) With the IRS
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify businesses and other entities for tax purposes.
Here’s how you can get an EIN:
- Determine if you need an EIN: You’ll need an EIN if you have employees, operate your business as a corporation or partnership, file employment tax returns, have a Keogh plan, or are required to file any of the following tax returns: Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
- Apply for an EIN: You can apply for an EIN online, by fax, by mail, or by phone. The quickest and easiest way is to apply online through the IRS website.
- Provide the necessary information: When applying for an EIN, you’ll need to provide your legal name, trade name (if applicable), business address, and the type of legal structure of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC).
- Wait for your EIN: If you apply online, you can receive your EIN immediately after completing the application. If you apply by fax or mail, it can take up to four weeks to receive your EIN.
Note that there is no fee to apply for an EIN. Once you receive your EIN, be sure to keep it safe and use it on all tax documents and forms.
7. Create a Brand Logo
Creating a business logo involves several steps. Here’s a general overview of the process:
- Define your brand: Before you start creating a logo, you need to define your brand’s personality, values, and mission. This will help you create a logo that accurately represents your brand.
- Determine the design style: Decide on the design style you want for your logo. Do you want it to be modern or classic, minimalistic or intricate, colorful or monochromatic? Consider your brand personality and target audience when making this decision.
- Choose the colors: Pick a color palette that reflects your brand personality and complements your design style. Colors have psychological meanings and can affect how people perceive your brand.
- Brainstorm ideas: Brainstorm several logo design concepts based on your brand personality, values, and mission. You can use online resources for inspiration or hire a professional logo designer to create a custom logo for you.
- Sketch your ideas: Once you have some logo design concepts, sketch them out on paper to visualize how they might look. This can help you narrow down your options and refine your ideas.
- Design the logo: Use a graphic design software program like Adobe Illustrator or Canva to create your logo design. Make sure it is scalable and can be used across different mediums.
- Get feedback: Share your logo design with colleagues, friends, or family to get feedback. This can help you refine your design further.
- Finalize the logo: Once you have incorporated feedback, finalize your logo design. Be sure to use high-quality images and files for your logo.
- Protect your logo: If you want to protect your logo, consider trademarking it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This will prevent others from using a similar logo and protect your brand’s identity.
8. Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan involves a comprehensive process that covers various aspects of your business, including the industry, market research, marketing and sales strategies, financial projections, and more. Here are some steps to guide you in writing a business plan and links to resources that can help you:
- Executive summary: This section provides a summary of your business plan, highlighting key information about your business, target market, products or services, and financial projections. It should be brief but comprehensive.
- Company description: This section describes your company’s mission, vision, values, and legal structure. It also includes information about the management team, business location, and history.
- Market analysis: This section provides a detailed analysis of your industry, target market, competition, and customer demographics. It also includes information about market trends and growth projections.
- Marketing and sales strategies: This section outlines your marketing and sales strategies, including branding, advertising, pricing, and distribution channels.
- Products and services: This section describes your products or services, their features and benefits, and how they will meet the needs of your target market.
- Financial projections: This section provides a detailed financial forecast for your business, including projected revenue, expenses, profits, and cash flow. It also includes a break-even analysis and funding requirements.
Here are some links to resources that can help you in writing a business plan:
- Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers a step-by-step guide to writing a business plan, including templates and sample plans.
- SCORE: SCORE provides free business plan templates and guides, as well as mentoring and counseling services.
- Bplans: Bplans offers a wide variety of business plan templates, tools, and resources, including sample plans for different industries.
- LivePlan: LivePlan is a cloud-based software that provides business planning tools and templates, financial forecasting, and collaboration features.
- Canva: Canva offers a range of customizable business plan templates and design tools to help you create a professional-looking plan.
9. Open a Business Bank Account in Colorado
A bank account is generally required for a new Limited Liability Company (LLC) or corporation to separate personal finances from business finances and to establish a clear record of business transactions.
Having a separate bank account for your LLC will help you keep track of your business’s income and expenses, which will be useful for tax purposes, accounting, and financial management. It will also make it easier to accept payments from customers and pay bills, suppliers, and employees.
To open a bank account for your LLC, you will typically need to provide the following documents:
- Certificate of Formation: This is a legal document that shows that your LLC has been registered with the state.
- Operating Agreement: This document outlines the rules and procedures for running your LLC and is required by some banks.
- EIN (Employer Identification Number) Confirmation Letter: This is a letter from the IRS confirming your LLC’s tax identification number.
- Identification documents: You will need to provide personal identification documents, such as a driver’s license, passport, or state ID, and proof of address, such as a utility bill.
Note that the specific requirements for opening a bank account for an LLC may vary depending on the bank and state where you are located. It’s best to contact the bank you plan to use to inquire about their specific requirements.
Brian Wilson is the content manager and founder of LLC Radar.
Brian grew up in North Texas, just outside of Dallas, and has a bachelor’s degree in business journalism from Southern Methodist University. Since graduating from SMU, Brian has gained over 10 years of experience in business writing for several online publications.
Brian resides in Plano, Texas and he can be reached by email: email@example.com