DBA stands for “doing business as” and allows your company to do business under a fictitious name (AKA one you made up) instead of your own personal name, names of your partners, or the name of your corporation or LLC. In order to do this, you must file for a DBA.
1) Does your company even need a DBA?
The first step in creating a DBA is determining if you even need one. The answer depends on whether your business operates as a sole proprietorship or as a corporation or LLC.
For Sole Proprietorships:
The only reason to not get a DBA is if you want your business to operate under your personal name only. Picking a business name will plant the seed for your brand to grow strong – and filing a DBA will protect it.
If your corporation or LLC wants to conduct any sort of business with a name that is different than the one you filed on your corporation/LLC paperwork, then you need a DBA.
2) It’s all in the name.
Choosing a business name that is memorable and suitable for your needs is a very thoughtful process. However, the process doesn’t end when you think of that perfect name.
You must make sure that you choose a name that doesn’t infringe on any existing copyrights, trademarks or service marks of any other business. Visit the Secretary of State website for whichever states you want to file a DBA in and use their online name search to check if your name is available.
3) File, file, file that DBA form!
The next step is to fill out your DBA form. Expect some fees here as well, but the charge for filing a DBA form is usually fairly inexpensive. Be sure to refer to The U.S. Small Business Administration website links for specific state requirements.
4) Publish your DBA info, actually get your DBA and keep it safe.
Once you have applied for your DBA, most states require you publish information regarding your DBA in at least one local newspaper. You must publish your DBA notice for four consecutive weeks in many cases, but this varies from state to state so it is best to refer back to the SBA website to find out what your state requires. Once you have your DBA make sure to keep it in a safe place where you won’t lose track of it.
5) Do you want to apply for a trademark too?
With a DBA, your business name is protected within the state in which your DBA was filed, but not outside that state. If you expect to be doing business nationally or internationally, it is a good idea to apply for a trademark for your name.
The process of applying for a trademark isn’t as quick and easy as it is with a DBA, but the good news is that once you have a trademark, it has an unlimited lifespan! Read this article about the differences in a trademark and a business name.
By following these five steps you can quickly and easily get your business started the right way.
About the author: Michael Ward is currently a blogger for Alexan CityView. He is also a budding Social Media Consultant for various small businesses across the country.