Are you using your business name correctly? In Colorado, you always need to use either i) the full name of your business, including the part(s) that designate you as a limited liability entity; or ii) a trade name that has been registered with the Secretary of State.
First, remember that most names have identifiers in them that identify what type of entity the business is. I’m talking about words such as “Company” and “Corporation” and abbreviations like “LLC” or “Inc.” These extra words and abbreviations may seem unimportant, but they actually give notice to the world that you are a limited liability entity. These little extra bits are part of the name of your business, and they should be included every time you use the business name. Yes, I’m talking about your business cards, letterhead, advertisements, social media, website, contracts, leases, everything. Using these identifiers shows third parties that you hold yourself out as a limited liability entity. If you don’t properly include your identifiers, you may not be considered a limited liability entity while you are doing business, which could put your limited liability protection at risk.
If you want to use any business name that is different than your full, legal business name, you need to register a trade name with the State of Colorado. A trade name is a name under which you do business that is different than your full business name. For instance, if your business name is “Sally Smith’s Cool Widgets, LLC” and you don’t have a trade name, you must use the full name of the business all the time. However, let’s say you register a trade name with the Colorado Secretary of State for the name “Sally’s Cool Widgets.” Then, you can do business under both names. For instance, it may be more practical to use the shorter “Sally’s Cool Widgets” on your business cards and your website. Just remember you cannot use a trade name unless and until you register it with the Secretary of State.
The law is always changing. We cannot guarantee that the information provided herein is current and accurate. Every situation is different. Do not refrain from seeking legal advice from a lawyer because of anything contained in this blog. Consult an attorney for individual legal advice regarding your own situation.