Part of knowing what an LLC is involves understanding the role of a DBA. This term stands for “doing business as,” and it allows LLCs to use another name when conducting business. A DBA (or doing business as) is an assumed name that businesses such as LLCs can use when conducting business.
It allows them to trade or conduct their services without registering a new company or changing their official company name. Instead, they add their official company name followed by ‘DBA’ and then the alternate name they wish to be known by. This process is also known as “filing a fictitious name.”
DBA vs. LLC: Which Is Right For Your Business?
Each structure has pros and cons, so which is right for your business? Let’s look at the differences between a DBA and an LLC and how each could impact your business differently.
What Is An LLC?
An LLC, or limited liability company, is a legal entity that provides liability protection to its owners while still allowing them to pay taxes as individuals instead of corporations. This means that any debts incurred by the company are not legally held against the owners. In other words, if someone takes legal action against the company, they can’t come after the owners’ assets.
Additionally, registering an LLC also registers the company name – eliminating the need for a DBA (more on this later).
What Is A DBA?
A DBA stands for “Doing Business As” and allows businesses to operate under a different name than their official registration name. If your registration name is “John Doe Enterprises,” but you want to market your products under “John Doe Products,” then you would need to obtain a DBA naming your business “John Doe Products.”
The advantage of setting up a DBA is that it allows companies to build up their brand without having to go through the hassle of changing their original registration name.
In some instances, however, using a DBA for an LLC can expand the business and allow it to offer multiple services under different names while still protecting itself from potential lawsuits or liabilities in each sector.
For instance, if John Doe Enterprises was registered as an LLC, then John could set up DBAs for “John Doe Construction Services” and “John Doe Plumbing Services.” This would allow the company to offer construction and plumbing services under different brands without registering separate legal entities for each service offering.
Do I Need A DBA For My LLC?
Using a DBA has many advantages. It allows you to create brand recognition without changing your official company name, which can be beneficial if your original company name does not accurately reflect your services.
Additionally, using a DBA lets customers know who they are doing business with while allowing you to operate under another name as the business owner.
Using a DBA may also help protect your intellectual property from competitors who could trademark your original company name and prevent you from using it in the future.
Finally, registering for a DBA can make record-keeping easier for you and the IRS since you must report all income earned through that alternate business separately on tax returns.
Filing For A Fictitious Name: How To Add DBA To An LLC
In most cases, registration of a fictitious name requires filing with the county or city government where you will use the assumed name. However, some states require filings at the state level instead. To determine the requirements in your state, you can take the following steps:
Check with your city or county agency that deals with business regulation.
Check with your local office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
If you want to use more than one assumed name, you must file separate registrations for each unless statewide registration is possible.
It’s also important to note that some states require publication in newspapers and other periodicals when filing for a fictitious name. After registering, you may need to purchase ads in local papers and publish information about your new company on social media sites and other platforms – all within specific periods of time (which vary by state). Failure to comply may result in penalties or fines.
Fees And Other Requirements
In addition to adhering to specific time frames, most states also charge fees when filing for a fictitious name (again, these vary by state). There may also be additional requirements, such as submitting fingerprints or providing proof of residency, before completing the filing successfully.
Ensure all paperwork is in order before beginning the registration process. Failing to meet the specific criteria or submitting incomplete or inaccurate information could cause delays or disqualification.
Understanding The Process For Registering A DBA
When registering your DBA, you will need an acceptable name. Which is typically the name of your LLC with a descriptor added (for example, “John Doe Cleaning Services”).
In some cases, there may be restrictions on what type of names you can use. For example, certain words might be restricted as part of the registration process in some states.
Once you have identified your desired name, you must register it with the appropriate agency or agencies. Depending on your business’s location and type of business structure, you could do this through the state government or local county clerk’s office.
Sometimes, you can do it online or by filling out a form from the agency. You will likely have to pay a small fee (typically under $100) for filing and processing LLC costs.
Once you have registered your new business name, you may also need to publish notice of its existence in an approved newspaper for it to become official. This is especially common in states requiring DBAs to prove that they are legally operating as an alternative business name before receiving any other permits or LLC licenses associated with their business activities.
Trademarking Your DBA Name: The Pros & Cons
When you own a business, you want to protect your hard work. That’s why many business owners choose to trademark their DBA name to protect their investment and prevent others from using it.
While trademarking a DBA name can be long and tedious, many choose to hire an attorney or use a service to simplify things. Filing for a trademark can be costly, but it may save time and money in the long run.
A trademark is an exclusive right granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that allows you to protect your brand identity. It provides legal protection against competitors who might try to use your brand name or logo without permission.
Additionally, it prevents customers from needing clarification about which company they are dealing with when buying products or services. Trademarks also allow you to license your brand so that others can produce merchandise with your brand name, such as t-shirts or mugs.
Filing for a trademark requires research, forms, and time, all of which can distract from growing your business. If you opt not to do it yourself, hiring an attorney or using a service like LegalZoom can provide peace of mind knowing that they will do everything correctly according to the law.
In addition to filing fees, additional costs may be associated with researching the availability of your desired brand name before filing and any expenses related to dispute resolution should someone infringe upon your rights after you have registered the mark.
Several benefits are associated with registering a trademark for your business’s DBA name. These benefits include legal protection against infringement, exclusive rights over the use of the mark, and increased credibility with customers due to the increased professionalism and legitimacy of the company.
Additionally, it would allow you to license trademarks for additional revenue streams, faster dispute resolution times if someone tries to use your mark without permission, and more!
Why It’s Important To Conduct A Business Name Search Before Expanding Your LLC
Learning how to start an LLC is an exciting process. However, ensuring your business name isn’t too similar to another business in the new state is essential. If businesses have too similar legal names, you will only be allowed to do business under a DBA (Doing Business As).
For each new state you plan to do business in, you must conduct a thorough search and register a DBA before conducting any transactions.
Fortunately, most states have websites where you can check if another company takes your desired business name. The website should also provide information on an acceptable name variation. Depending on the state, the website may also allow you to reserve specific names for up to 120 days while you complete your paperwork.
It is important to remember that not all states have the same rules and regulations about LLCs. In some cases, the LLC may need additional paperwork filed or have different restrictions placed upon them to conduct business within that state. Make sure to research the laws thoroughly for each new state so that your LLC is compliant and does not run afoul of local ordinances.
Once your DBA is registered in the new state, ensure it is listed correctly on all official documents, such as contracts and invoices. You can often accomplish this by adding “DBA” after the existing name or using the acronym “LLC” after their name instead of listing the company’s full legal name. For example, John Doe Enterprises LLC or John Doe Enterprises DBA ABC Company.
Furthermore, suppose you plan on opening a physical location in a new state. In that case, you must list your registered legal name and DBA on any signage outside your store or office space, so potential customers know who they are doing business with.
Do I Need A DBA If I Have An LLC?
Operating an LLC has many advantages but also some serious responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is registering your business’s DBA, or “Doing Business As” name.
An LLC that doesn’t register its DBA risks facing monetary fines and penalties and being unable to hold contracts as per the agreed terms. Plus, in some states, the LLC owner that doesn’t comply with assumed name laws may be held personally liable for any lawsuits against their business.
How Many DBAs Can An LLC Have?
You may have heard that LLCs can have unlimited DBA names. But what exactly does this mean? In short, a DBA name is simply a trade or business name different from the company’s legal name.
An LLC has no limits on the number of fictitious business names it can file. But there are pros and cons to establishing multiple DBAs for your LLC. Let’s take a look at both sides of the equation.
Pros Of Multiple DBAs
There are several advantages to having multiple DBAs for your LLC. One of the main benefits is that it allows you to create separate identities for your various product lines or services. For example, if you own an online retail store, you could create a different DBA for each category, such as women’s clothing, men’s clothing, and home decor.
Multiple DBAs make it easier to target specific audiences and market more effectively overall. It also allows you to differentiate between physical locations or franchises with different names while maintaining ownership under one parent company (your LLC).
Another advantage is that having multiple DBAs allows you to protect your brand by preventing others from using similar names or logos in their businesses. This will assist in limiting customer confusion and ensure your brand remains recognizable and trusted in the marketplace.
Furthermore, having multiple DBAs can help build credibility over time as customers associate each DBA with certain products or services offered by your company.
Cons Of Multiple DBAs
While there are many advantages to having multiple DBAs for your LLC, you should consider some potential downsides before filing for them.
For example, managing multiple DBAs can be difficult because each must be registered separately to remain compliant with state laws. Additionally, filing fees will have to be paid upfront to establish each new DBA as a legitimate business entity—and these fees add up quickly if you register several different names!
Finally, there may be restrictions on how much advertising and marketing materials you are allowed to use depending on where you register for the DBA (e.g., some states may not allow certain promotional activities). So it’s important to research local laws before filing any applications!
What Is A DBA For An LLC? - FAQ
Yes, a registered agent for an LLC s is required in most states, even if you have a DBA. A registered agent acts as the main point of contact for legal documents, such as service of process and tax notices. The registered agent must be available during regular business hours to accept these documents from the state or other third parties.
Dissolving an LLC with a DBA is the same as dissolving any other business entity. In writing, you must notify your state’s secretary of state office and follow their procedures for filing the necessary paperwork. Depending on your state, you may also need to dissolve any DBAs associated with the LLC.
The best way to pay yourself from an LLC depends on your situation. Generally speaking, the most tax-efficient way to pay yourself is through salary and distributions.
A salary is paid when you are performing services as an employee of the company, while distributions are used when you are acting as a member (owner) of the LLC. It’s essential to consult with a qualified tax professional to determine which method is best for your particular scenario.
The other options, such as charging yourself rent or taking out loans, are also viable options based on the specifics of your business and financial situation. Again, it’s always best to speak with an accountant or tax professional before making any decisions.
Registering a fictitious name is required in all states and can involve many steps depending on where you live and work.
To get started, conduct an online search for requirements in your area, check with relevant agencies, understand any associated fees, and ensure that all documentation is accurate before submitting any paperwork.
With this knowledge, you should be able to get your fictitious business off the ground quickly and without too much hassle.