How to choose a name for your limited company as a contractor?
If you decided to operate as a limited company contractor (as opposed to being a sole trader), then choosing a name for your business is one of the first things you need to do when setting up your company. This is an important step. The name of your business is one of the first things potential clients will see about you. It’ll be on your website, business cards, social media pages and will really define people’s first impressions – so you want to make sure it’s good.
Read on for top tips on choosing your limited company’s name.
How creative should you get with your company name?
There are a few options when it comes to creating your company name. You might go with the traditional format of [Your Name] + [Your Sector] + Limited e.g. John Smith Civil Engineering Limited. You might go with something less personal along the lines of [Your Sector] + [Solutions/Consultants] + Limited e.g. Civil Engineering Solutions Limited. Or you may go for something more abstract or creative e.g. Building Bridges Limited.
Of course, when it comes to being creative, you have to balance it with being objective too. If you’re an accountant, then a fabulous maths-based pun might seem like a good idea for a business name, but is it apparent to potential clients what you do and is it easy to remember? Test the name out with people you trust before you commit to it.
However, if you work in the media and creative industry then something a bit more dazzling might be just the thing. A copywriter, for instance, could show off their skills with some clever wordplay.
Follow the rules when registering your limited company
There are quite a few rules you need to be aware of when picking your company name (and there are different rules for sole traders and partnerships). The first and most obvious is that your name can’t be the same as another registered company’s name and it mustn’t infringe on existing trademarks. You can check the Companies House register to cross-reference potential business names.
This rule extends to ‘same as’ names, which means business names that are the same as an existing one except for minor differences including:
- Certain special characters e.g., the plus symbol;
- Certain punctuation;
- A word or character that’s similar in meaning or appearance to one from an existing name;
- A word or character used commonly in UK business names.
So, for example, ‘Daves UK Ltd’ and ‘Dave’s Ltd’ are both considered the same as ‘Daves Ltd’.
You are only allowed to register a ‘same as’ name if your company is part of the same group as the existing company and you have written confirmation that there is no objection. Another category of disallowed names is ‘too like’ names. An example of this might be ‘IT Solutions For You’ and ‘IT Solutions 4U’.
Your company name must always end with ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’, or you can use ‘Cyfyngedig’ or ‘Cyf’ if your company is registered in Wales.
Other rules include:
- You cannot use an offensive name;
- The name cannot use ‘sensitive’ expressions or words, a full list of which can be found here;
- You cannot use words that suggest a link with a local authority or government, a full list of which can be found here;
- Certain words are protected under other legislation and you cannot use them unless you meet certain criteria.
The difference between trading name and company name
You can have a ‘trading name’ which you use to conduct business and is different to your registered company name. This is known as your ‘business name’. It’s not often that contractors have separate business names, but it could be useful if you have different strands to your business offer and want to market them separately. Business names cannot use ‘sensitive’ words and must not include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership’, ‘LLP’ or ‘plc’.
Displaying your company name as a contractor
There are rules around displaying your company name and it’s worth bearing them in mind when choosing one.
For instance, you must display a sign showing your company name at your registered business address (and wherever your business operates). However, this does not apply if you work from home. So, a contractor whose business is entirely ran from home does not need to display a sign, but a contractor who rents an office does.
You also must include your company’s name on all company documents, letters and publicity materials. On letters and your website you must include:
- Your company’s registered number;
- Your registered office address;
- Where your company is registered (e.g. England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland);
- The fact that your company is a limited company.
There are different rules for what needs to be included on invoices.
Make a choice for your company name
It’s clear then, that it’s important to get your company name right and it has to be one you’re happy with being visible. If you have a few contenders and aren’t sure, you could try mocking up some letterheads or business cards to see which you like the look of or get some trusted friends and family together to get their opinions.
Once you’ve chosen your name and registered it, you need to make sure you have suitable insurance for your contractor business. Kingsbridge’s business insurance package includes all of the insurances a fledgling limited company contractor needs to get started. Contact our friendly, expert team to discuss what you need.