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View Full Version : I think I just Trainwrecked my business


RLS24
11-29-2008, 12:10 AM
I went to apply for my DBA this week and register my business name. Well, apparently, some guy already "owns" the name I have been going under for the past year. Hasn't been in business for over 15 years but keeps ownership of the name. I have a few problems here....

1) What do I call myself now? I want something professional....no "Mike's Landscaping" (actually there is a guy around here that goes by "Mikey's Mowing" and appears to be quite successful)

2) When I do come up with a new name, what do I tell my current customers?

I've already somewhat built up a name for myself with this name, and I thought I was OK because I searched high and low through the yellowpages to make sure no one else had it (which was a really bad idea to just rely on that - lesson learned, and learned well), and now I feel like this is really throwing a wrench into the works.

P.Services
11-29-2008, 12:22 AM
can you get it as a llc? if not i would call the guy and see if you cant work somthing out.

HOOLIE
11-29-2008, 06:44 AM
I'm sure it differs from state to state, but when I registered in VA years ago, they told me unless a business is a corporation registered with the state (or something like that) the name is not protected. As I scrolled thru the database I saw quite a few duplicated names. If you haven't done so I would check with the county and see what the rules are. Since they other guy hasn't been in business for 15 years it's probably just an old listing.

Change it to "Nu Era" or "Pneu Era" :laugh:

DLAWNS
11-29-2008, 08:42 AM
Look into it and make sure that the company won't give or sell you the name. If not it sucks but it's not the end of the world. Just come up with something new and explain to your customers that there was a mix up during the start up of your company. Let us know what happens.

Tadams
11-29-2008, 10:10 AM
Try changing the name slightly- something like "New Era Lawncare & Landscaping" or "New Era Property Management". There are lots of ways that you can change it around without changing the name. The banks will still accept any of your checks and you wouldn'y have to tell your customers anything. I wouldn't even change the business cards or advertising and signs on your truck.

Right Touch
11-29-2008, 10:40 AM
a guy in my area had the same problem. They changed the name as far as "legal" matters were concerned, but all the trucks, trailers, letterhead, business cards, everything else still had the name that was used by another company. And they never had a problem with the state.

Firefighter337
11-29-2008, 11:18 AM
New Edge Landscaping

TRILAWNCARE
11-29-2008, 11:43 AM
I'm sure it differs from state to state, but in Iowa a simple DBA is your personal name. John Smith DBA New Era Landscaping. If there is a problem with them accepting this then just add the "enterprises" to the end. New Era Landscaping Enterprises. You don't need to include this on your truck if you don't want.

Personally I would look into setting up a LLC. This will eliminate or better protect your personal assets from a possible liability issue should one ever come up. Say a rock flies out of your mower and kills someone. The only assets a lawsuit would be able to take control of are the business. Not your house, car and personal wealth.

These are issues you would be better off discussing with a lawyer. A couple of hundred dollars spent now, could save you from loosing everything you have, in the future.

Also ask about S-corp's they have benefits as far as how your income taxes will be filed. Can save you a lot of money there as well.

Good luck

vaughnslawns
11-29-2008, 11:48 AM
put an "A" at the front. such as --a new era--

Firefighter337
11-29-2008, 11:52 AM
I'm sure it differs from state to state, but in Iowa a simple DBA is your personal name. John Smith DBA New Era Landscaping. If there is a problem with them accepting this then just add the "enterprises" to the end. New Era Landscaping Enterprises. You don't need to include this on your truck if you don't want.

Personally I would look into setting up a LLC. This will eliminate or better protect your personal assets from a possible liability issue should one ever come up. Say a rock flies out of your mower and kills someone. The only assets a lawsuit would be able to take control of are the business. Not your house, car and personal wealth.

These are issues you would be better off discussing with a lawyer. A couple of hundred dollars spent now, could save you from loosing everything you have, in the future.

Also ask about S-corp's they have benefits as far as how your income taxes will be filed. Can save you a lot of money there as well.

Good luck

To add to this. http://www.legalzoom.com/limited-liability-company/limited-liability-company-packages.html

referred to my by a friend that runs a very successful internet business.

RLS24
11-29-2008, 02:21 PM
New Edge Landscaping


I like that.....I'm going to try to contact the guy and see if he will give the name to me somehow or I will try and change the name just a bit to make it work.

ACA L&L
11-29-2008, 03:19 PM
This name situation can be a very bad thing, we have been going round and round with the state to be registered, they r to the T when it comes to this, however we should have it right come Jan, when that happens we r going after a few new start up solo opperations, which i have spoke with to resovle situation,
(a holes), at any rate, contact the sate and do it right before u change name, after its all done contact ur customers one by one or a letter would work and just simply tell them the truth. Good luck

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
11-29-2008, 04:22 PM
I'm an LLC, I filed with my Secretary of State to Register my Business name, they were no longer requiring Articles of Organization, which is common when developing an LLC. So for $50 to register my business name as an LLC, and a free Tax Id # with the IRS, my LLC was formed, this also allowed me to open up a bank account in my business name.

My suggestion would be do a business entity name search on your state Secrety of State website, type in New Era and see how many different examples there are, there could be several for different types of businesses.

http://appsext8.dos.state.ny.us/corp_public/corpsearch.entity_search_entry

I just checked and I didn't see anyone who has this name registered, registering with the Secretary of State is the Official registry, if they aren't registered with the S.O.S. than they don't exist.

I would wonder why this person who has New Era Landscaping registered, would continue to pay the $50 fee every 2 years if he is no longer in business??

JimmyStew
11-29-2008, 04:44 PM
I was going to suggest what Tadams said. Just add something to the "official" name like Services or & Lawncare, but in day to day operations, continue to go by the name you use now.

newtostone
11-29-2008, 05:45 PM
Register it in another county

Chris B.
11-29-2008, 07:35 PM
I'm an LLC, I filed with my Secretary of State to Register my Business name, they were no longer requiring Articles of Organization, which is common when developing an LLC. So for $50 to register my business name as an LLC, and a free Tax Id # with the IRS, my LLC was formed, this also allowed me to open up a bank account in my business name.

My suggestion would be do a business entity name search on your state Secrety of State website, type in New Era and see how many different examples there are, there could be several for different types of businesses.

http://appsext8.dos.state.ny.us/corp_public/corpsearch.entity_search_entry

I just checked and I didn't see anyone who has this name registered, registering with the Secretary of State is the Official registry, if they aren't registered with the S.O.S. than they don't exist.

I would wonder why this person who has New Era Landscaping registered, would continue to pay the $50 fee every 2 years if he is no longer in business??

He probably still uses the business to help with tax breaks and what not. That would be my guess why he still pays the 50 dollars every few years.

PROCUT1
11-29-2008, 07:49 PM
Thats why you start the business before you start work.

johnslandscaping
11-29-2008, 11:18 PM
You should have checked into this better during start up. To fix the problem just add lawn care or landscaping or anything to make the name a little different from the one already on file. I would try to find out why that company went out of business could hurt your rep. depending on reason.

Lawnworks
11-30-2008, 06:19 PM
Good lord... Just use the name you have now. When you go to register it all you do is name it Mike Smith Incorporated dba New Era Landscapes. Forget calling the the guy... your legal name will different and it will not make a difference what is on your trucks.

DanaMac
12-01-2008, 11:36 AM
I have a different kind of problem, but along these same lines.

My company is Sprinklers Etc.., Inc.
Another local company is Sprinklers Inc.

I have had problems with my customers calling them by mistake, and vice versa. I've never had a problem with any of the other companies with another describing word - Plus, Solutions, Services, or whatever. I incorporated in '95, and I think this company was '02. the name is too similar and I'm trying to figure out what if anything I can do.

AND - their logo is way to similar to mine, and the phone prefix is the same.

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
12-01-2008, 02:33 PM
I would call your secretary of state office and if you had your name registered first, and they can see that by their files, than I would think they could contact them and make them change their name, but the word etc. may just be enough to seperate you from them, but I'm sure they could provide you with more information.

http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/business/main.htm

RLS24
12-01-2008, 04:51 PM
Ok, I found out that the same guy has NewEra Landscaping, NewEra Lawn and Landscape, and NewEra Lawn Service all registered to him. I contacted my lawyer (my cousin and he gives me the "family discount" so I have no problem calling him asking his opinion) and he suggested I call the guy and try and work something out. Turns out the guy is located on the other side of the damn state from me, and he only does really small jobs "on the side" but is quite attached to the name. This was at 9 this morning. by 1, I had a voicemail from the guys lawyer saying if I continued to use the name or attempted to use any adjunct of it, that they would be taking me to court. Great. So, I have just decided to go with the new name....I have picked "Landcrafters Lawn and Landscape of Western New York" I checked the site someone linked above, and there is only one Landcrafters and its down near NYC. I think with the added stuff on the end I will be safe. I think the name has a nice professional sound to it. Opinions?

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
12-01-2008, 04:58 PM
Where did you find out he has those names registered? I did the search on the NY S.O.S. website and didn't find any names with NewEra Landscaping, and I even tried several different combinations? If he's not registered with the secretary of state, than he's not legal! If you were to register that name before this guy does, than He would be the one that has to alter his name.

I can see those Landscrafters names already in use, Entity Name
LANDCRAFTERS LANDSCAPE AND LAWN SERVICE INC.
LANDCRAFTERS LANDSCAPING & DESIGN, INC.
LANDCRAFTERS, LLC

That might be an issue as well

TRILAWNCARE
12-01-2008, 05:09 PM
I contacted my lawyer (my cousin and he gives me the "family discount" so I have no problem calling him asking his opinion) and he suggested I call the guy

What did your cousin lawyer have to say about what his lawyer had to say?

I would have told his lawyer to call your lawyer (the cousin) and they could discuss the consciences of the usage of names.

Unless he has a copyright on all the "NewEra" names, he can't tell you what variation of the name you can use. Especially if it is one he does not have registered. If the state will allow you a certain "NewEra" name, then you should be good to go.

Don't give up so quick and change your name.

Waterit
12-01-2008, 05:49 PM
I have a different kind of problem, but along these same lines.

My company is Sprinklers Etc.., Inc.
Another local company is Sprinklers Inc.

I have had problems with my customers calling them by mistake, and vice versa. I've never had a problem with any of the other companies with another describing word - Plus, Solutions, Services, or whatever. I incorporated in '95, and I think this company was '02. the name is too similar and I'm trying to figure out what if anything I can do.

AND - their logo is way to similar to mine, and the phone prefix is the same.

I had a slightly different problem years ago: guy used a dissimilar name, but my number was XXX-4538, his XXX-4536. Lost many customers to him until I found out his # was a residential phone, dimed him out to the phone co., within 6 months of commercial phone bills he's gone. Well, he also did crappy work, that may have had something to do with it.

RLS24
12-02-2008, 01:37 PM
Where did you find out he has those names registered? I did the search on the NY S.O.S. website and didn't find any names with NewEra Landscaping, and I even tried several different combinations? If he's not registered with the secretary of state, than he's not legal! If you were to register that name before this guy does, than He would be the one that has to alter his name.

I can see those Landscrafters names already in use, Entity Name
LANDCRAFTERS LANDSCAPE AND LAWN SERVICE INC.
LANDCRAFTERS LANDSCAPING & DESIGN, INC.
LANDCRAFTERS, LLC

That might be an issue as well

I searched the website, and no one has the Landscrafters thing the way I want to do it. I called my cousin, told him about the other lawyer, and he said if the guy's lawyer is already calling me about it then he is prob serious about trying to come after me in some way. I quote, "you've only been in business for a year, you don;t have that many customers, and if for some odd reason this really does go to court, you're gonna have to admit to doing business without a DBA or an LLC or paying taxes for a year, and thats not going to look good. If I were you, I'd just change the name, put out a letter to the few customers you have and go on your way. It's not like you've made a huge name for yourself yet, and your phone number isnt changing, so people that have on old business card or an old flier are still going to call your number."

TRILAWNCARE
12-02-2008, 02:34 PM
go to court, you're gonna have to admit to doing business without a DBA or an LLC or paying taxes for a year, and thats not going to look good.

Hope there are no IRS agents out there reading this :hammerhead:

Guzman Properties
12-02-2008, 03:23 PM
How about ..........

New Error Landscaping


LOL, just kidding, just make 100% sure his name is LEGAL before you do anything. Get his lawyers name and phone number and look him up as well, it could be his "cousin".

PROCUT1
12-02-2008, 03:23 PM
I dont think you have a leg to stand on.

You have been lucky operating illegally for as long as you have.

Since youre using HIS name, he would probably have a pretty good case against you.

I think a nice apology and a promise to change the name would be in order. And just pray the guy drops it.

I know I would have already had letters into the IRS, State taxation, Workers comp board, licensing board and anything else i could think of. And that would have been within an hour of you calling me.

Not to mention the lawsuit that would require you to show how long you have used MY name, and what income you have derived from it. Then to determine how much money you owe me from that.

Now...Thats just me.....And Im an arrogant prick in my spare time as a hobby.

Most people arent like that.

So, get a new name, register it, go legal and everyone will be happy.

RLS24
12-02-2008, 03:39 PM
Well, he doesn't know that I have been in business for a year already. I did everything "on the side" mostly for people I know....relatives, friends, neighbors...kind of a trial year to see if I could have a chance at being successful. No advertising or anything "official" Now that I realize I can, I am doing everything to take the right steps to make everything legit before I go full force with this. Before I even hit the streets in March passing out fliers with my name on it, plan to have full insurance, have either a DBA or LLC set up, and be as legit and professional as possible. I'm sorry if some of you don't agree with the way I did things, but my end goal is to be a full, legit, taxpaying (as much as I hate taxes) business.

PROCUT1
12-02-2008, 03:45 PM
Well, he doesn't know that I have been in business for a year already. I did everything "on the side" mostly for people I know....relatives, friends, neighbors...kind of a trial year to see if I could have a chance at being successful. No advertising or anything "official" Now that I realize I can, I am doing everything to take the right steps to make everything legit before I go full force with this. Before I even hit the streets in March passing out fliers with my name on it, plan to have full insurance, have either a DBA or LLC set up, and be as legit and professional as possible. I'm sorry if some of you don't agree with the way I did things, but my end goal is to be a full, legit, taxpaying (as much as I hate taxes) business.

Im not knocking your way at all.

I will bet that the majority of people on this board started out the same way.

I will also bet that many, if not most people on this board are under the table part time operations.

You can get away with that for a long long time.

Nobody is out randomly looking for a guy making a few bucks mowing lawns on the side. There are guys that go forever like that and dont get caught.

If I had a full time job and mowed a few lawns on the side, i would do the same dam thing.

The problem is once you put yourself on the radar.

You "take" the wrong guys customer.

You tick off the wrong contractor.

Then the ball drops.

The state and IRS wont come looking for you. However if someone makes a complaint, they have to act on it.

So the purpose of my last post wasnt to attack you or flame you for how you did it. I personally dont have a problem with it at all.

I just wanted you to be aware of what it really means if what the real consequences are if you continue to pursue it.

juspayme
12-03-2008, 04:48 AM
how about "knew era landscaping"!!

the king commeth.....

TRILAWNCARE
12-03-2008, 10:03 AM
I will also bet that many, if not most people on this board are under the table part time operations.

You can get away with that for a long long time.

Nobody is out randomly looking for a guy making a few bucks mowing lawns on the side. There are guys that go forever like that and dont get caught.



Want to know what a bigger problem than this is??????

A individual collecting welfare or disability, working on the side. Acting like he can't find work or is not able to, because of some injury that he received on a job years ago. Which he no doubt got a huge work comp settlement out of. Perhaps he injured himself, in a alcohol related traffic accident or what ever.

So than they get there rent and utilities paid. Don't forget food on the table. The more children they have the more they receive.

Her in Iowa we have a $.05 redemption on all beverage containers. At the redemption center here in town they hire mentally challenged individuals to count and sort the bottles and cans. Most of these people live in group homes and I see them line up at the bus stop to catch a ride to work each morning. Those individuals may or may not be getting state or federal aid, but they are still trying to be a productive member of society, by working.

Now take the individual that is working while collecting aid. They are not only avoiding paying taxes by working under the table, but the rest of us tax payers are also paying there way. While they work away, putting all there tax free money in there pockets, along with ours.

These are the individuals that the DHS, and IRS should be looking for. Not some 20 year old kid mowing lawn on the side, to help pay his way through college.

Does anyone else see the the problems in America like I do??????????


I will also bet that many, if not most people on this board are under the table part time operations.



This is a pretty bold statement to post on the board. :nono: Don't start a riot.

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
12-03-2008, 10:18 AM
I would agree totally, take Craigslist for example I see tons of ads that advertise things from Lawn Mowing to Leaf Clean-up & even Landscaping Installation, and 90% of those ads at the very bottom say "Unlicensed", and here I am Paying business taxes, keeping Liability Insurance, and registered with the State & city business license. I wish there was a way to report these guys performing work without a license, but I'm sure the city just doesn't have the time to persue such crimes.

B & B Yardscape
12-09-2008, 10:16 AM
In MI it is based on your county. I registerd my business name, in my county at the Court House. You can also do a state and a national name registration.

There are several B&B in my area. Everything from mail delivery to electricans to landscaper. As long as there is some spelling difference between them, it is ok to register.

Think of a different name and move on.

New Generation Landscapeing as an example. If you do a search and someone else has something similar. Pick something else.