A ‘Doing Business As’ name is one of the most important parts of a business, but far too often we hear about businesses choosing to put off filing for a DBA until they are a bit more established. Unfortunately this leaves those companies open to all sorts of problems later on as a DBA name is needed for some of the most basic aspects of running a business! But what exactly is a ‘Doing Business As’ name? And why do businesses need to file for one?
A doing business as name, or as it is sometimes known as a fictitious business name, is the name under which you do business. As a way to reduce fraud, most states require anyone who offers goods or services under a name other than their own to file for a DBA. Doing business as names are typically handled by the Secretary of State or department of corporations of whatever state the company does business in. The entity or person that handles DBA names will sometimes even offer DBA name searches free of charge, ensuring that you aren’t wasting your time by filling out paperwork for a name that has already been claimed.
Why would a business need one?
You are entitled to use your own name for your business if you want to, but any changes or additions to the name would require you to file for a DBA name. For instance, if our CEO Deborah Sweeney opened up a business that paints houses, she could call her business ‘Deborah Sweeney.’ However, if she wanted to call it ‘Deborah Sweeney Painting,’ she would have to file for a DBA name as ‘Painting’ is not a part of her legal name. This might seem a bit silly but as mentioned before, this is largely a way to prevent fraud. As DBA laws are so important to a state’s anti-fraud efforts, you need a DBA name for some of the most rudimentary parts of running your business. Want to open a business bank account? Receive checks written out to your business? Advertise your services using your business’s name? Most states require companies to file for a DBA name before doing any of the above. And, if you don’t complete the paperwork, you could be hit with some serious fines.
How do I file for a DBA name?
Most states have a standardized form available on their website for filing a DBA name. Just head on over to the website for the state you do business in, find the Secretary of State’s page, (in some cases, this may be the page for the department of corporations) download a DBA form, fill it out, and send it in along with the required processing fee. Filing also usually involves either you or the state performing a DBA search before the paperwork is processed. And if you need a little extra help from professionals, we are always happy to help you file for a doing business as name as well!
A doing business as name is extremely important, and it is best to file for one now before you build a lot of trust into the name of your company, only to find that you were actually using a business name that was already claimed. Running a business under an assumed name without filing for a DBA or fictitious name can also land you in hot water with the state and require you to pay a series of fines and penalties. This is definitely something you want to take care of early, so once you figure out what your business name is going to be, start the paperwork and file for a DBA name as soon as possible!