Selecting a name for your business can be challenging. It must be unique, memorable and representative of your product or service. Depending on the name you ultimately choose, you may also need to file for a DBA.
Simply defined, DBA stands for “Doing Business As.” A DBA is a fictitious business name, also referred to as an assumed business name, that differs from the personal name of the owner(s) or the official name of a registered corporation. For example, if Patricia Smith is a sole proprietor and opens her bakery under the name of Patty’s Cakes, the bakery would have an assumed name because it is not the owner’s legal name.
DBAs are a form of consumer protection, giving customers insight into the individuals or corporation that they’re really hiring or purchasing a product from. Generally speaking, there are two instances where a DBA will be needed:
- A sole proprietor or partnership where the owner(s) names are not used.
- An existing corporation or LLC wants to do business under a different name. This may occur when a new product is launched or the company is looking to expand into a new industry.
For sole proprietors, who operate under an assumed name, a DBA is often required to open a bank account and start accepting payments for the business. It’s important to note that not all states require the registration of a DBA. Furthermore, a DBA is not a substitute for a trademark which requires a separate application that must be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If you are looking to start a business under a fictitious name, it’s imperative that you consult a business attorney who is familiar with the business formation laws in your county and state. When registration is required, this can generally be done with the county clerk’s office or your state government.