Having second thoughts about the name of your business? I have the solution to your problem. It’s called an Assumed Name or “Doing Business As” Certificate. Most people refer to such a thing simply as a DBA.
Help! I’m a square and can’t get hip!
A DBA solves a couple of problems for you. Let’s say you’ve realized your lifelong dream of building (and hopefully selling) handcrafted surfboards, but you want to keep things mellow and simple. A DBA will let you use a groovy name like “Moondoggie’s Surf Shack” to market your business without the hassle of setting up like, a whole corporation or something. It also keeps you from having to use your real name, Roscoe Vernon Armbruster IV, on your sign. Moondoggie probably sells more surfboards than Roscoe.
But, let’s say you’ve already set up a whole big corporation and named it something boring before you realized that you needed a gnarly name on the sign in order to be successful. No sweat, buddy! Get your corporation a DBA. A DBA lets you be a number-crunching suit in the boardroom and still be an awesome dude when you hang with your customers.
How can I get a righteous DBA name?
If you are operating as a sole proprietorship (one dude) or a general partnership (two or more dudes keeping it simple), then you need to file with the County Clerk in each county where you have a Surf Shack. If you intend to stay mobile and operate out of your dune buggy, then you need to file in each county where you travel to do business. Visit your county clerk’s office or their website and get the DBA form, get the completed form notarized, and turn it in to be filed. Expect to pay about $25 to file. It’s bogus, daddy-o, but worth the shekels.
If you are operating as a corporation, limited partnership or limited liability company (if you aren’t sure what you are, it’s best to Google some definitions before going any further), then you need to file with your state’s Secretary of State.
Visit their website, get the completed form notarized, and file it. They also have a small cost for filing.
Don’t get hassled by the Man!
Either way, you need to do a name search for the DBA name you intend to file for. You want to make sure the name you want hasn’t already been taken by some other dude, or that it won’t be too similar to somebody else’s DBA, which might cause confusion between the two businesses. Most Secretary of State and county websites will let you do name searches for about a buck each. You’ll need a credit card.
Filing a DBA certificate does not protect you or your business from any legal action taken against you, but if some jerk decides to use your groovy DBA name for his business, you can put a stop to it. So go get a DBA, and then hit the (business) surf and enjoy some tasty profits!
About the Author:
Chris Watkins is the director of security at Central National Bank. He is quite the history buff, enjoys reading and collecting books, and can tell you just about anything you’d ever want to know regarding vintage airplanes (1910’s to 1940’s).