Make sure your business gets off to the right start by remembering these important characteristics of a good business name
If you will be operating as a sole trader you can work under your own name but, as with a Limited Company, you could choose another name for your business.
Consider the types of clients you are hoping to gain and make sure your business name conveys the right message; be it friendly & dependable or professional & efficient.
Easy to remember
Running your own business means everyone you meet is a potential client. Make it easier for people to remember you by keeping your business name simple, or by operating under your own name. Choosing a flashy and unique-sounding name could work against you.
Short and pronouncable
Bear in mind the number of times you will need to spell out your business name over the telephone, especially if you plan to use the name in your business email address. If your own name has always been difficult for people to spell, consider other options.
Don't beat around the bush and make it hard for potential clients to understand what you do. It makes a lot of sense for you to include the word bookkeeper or bookkeeping in your business name.
Although it is not always the case, clients who are looking for a bookkeeper can be put off by the word accountancy as it suggests a firm of accountants. If you are as clear as possible about the nature of your business you should also reduce the likelihood of interested parties calling you wanting an accountant and expecting you to carry out complicated tax calculations. We would therefore suggest that you steer clear of the term Accountancy, and rather opt for Bookkeeping, or even Accounts and Accounting if necessary.
Sole traders and Limited Companies are restricted from using sensitive words in their business name such as any words that indicate affiliation with the Government, any offensive words, or any expressions that describe a particular type of company, such as Limited Company, unless used correctly.
Visit the Companies House WebCheck to ensure that no one else is already using your chosen business name. You might also wish to check if the corresponding domain name is available if you are planning to set up your own website.
For sole traders
Even if you will be using your own name, you still need to make sure it is not being used by someone else in your local area. After checking the Companies House WebCheck you should also check for unincorporated businesses through local papers and the internet. If your namesake is operating an unrelated business at the opposite end of the country then you should be fine to go ahead and use your name.
For Limited Companies
If you are forming a Limited Company you must use the word Limited or Ltd after your business name and register it with Companies House. Ensure that you comply with its rules.
Companies House Incorporation Guidance
Examples of Business Names
For sole traders
An ICB full Member called Mr David A Jones could set himself up as a sole trader under his own name:
David Jones Bookkeeping
D Jones Bookkeeping
DA Jones Certified Bookkeeper
Alternatively David Jones could use a Trading As name - any name under which a company or person trades that is not either their own personal name or the registered name of the company.
David Jones could trade under the following names for example:
If you choose a Trading As name, rather than your own name, you must still state your full name as Proprietor on all Letterheads, Invoices, and other legal documents.
For Limited Companies
Limited companies can use the same names as in the Trading As section, Example:
Basingstoke Bookkeeping Limited
A1 Bookkeeping Ltd
providing they do not duplicate a name already registered with Companies House.
Displaying your Business Name
Both sole traders and Limited Companies are subject to the requirement to make their identity clear to their clients and display certain information across letterheads and other stationery.
The Practice Licence is compulsory for members in public practice and it includes supervision under the MLR.
PII is compulsory for ICB Practice Licence holders and new practices can get their first three months free.
Find out more about ICB's own regulations governing conduct and professional development for Practice Licence holders.
Your definitive guide to regulations that affect you as a business owner and ICB Practice Licence holder.