Dear M & M: I am starting a new business. Where do I go to search the name to see if it is available? – Don

Dear Don: The last thing you want to do is to create a business and call it a name that someone else is already using.

Most of the places you can go to search are online. Start off by searching “images” under Google. Look to see if anyone is already using a similar logo or artwork design with the name you picked.

You are going to need a website? Go to a domain name provider link like (GoDaddy, Bluehost, HostGator, Namecheap, etc.). Once again if your name is taken, I’d look for a new name. Sometimes, the domain name providers suggest alternative names that might work for you, your business or your customers.

Another national search engine to go to would be TESS or Trademark Electronic Search System. This will search the US Patent and Trademarks office to see if anyone has reserved or registered a name.

You can actually see who, where and when the name was reserved.

In addition, the secretary of state in Arizona has a search engine for sole proprietorships or partnerships that have reserved a trade name in Arizona. In addition, the Arizona Corporate Commission’s website to create a corporation in Arizona makes you search the database to see if that name already exists or is being used.

Arizona allows only one business to use a name. If someone is already using a name you thought you would use, you must find a new name.

As much as a good story sticks in your head, a good name can stick in the heads of your customers.

Take some time choosing wisely in searching to see if anyone else is already using your name. This is just as important as taking some time to choose a good name when starting a business.

The worse name would be the one someone is already using.

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.