/Tag:doing business as

Filing a DBA – FAQ

This month in our FAQ series, we tackle the most commonly asked questions about one of the most popular entity types – the DBA.

Starting a business can be overwhelming, and one of the first and most important steps is choosing a business entity. A DBA, which stands for “Doing Business As”, is also known as a fictitious business name or assumed business name. A sole proprietor can file a DBA in order to operate under their preferred business name, or a DBA can be filed underneath an existing corporation or LLC in order to advertise as or accept payments under an alternative name. Below are some of the most common questions and answers our CEO Nellie Akalp receives regarding the DBA:

Q: If I’m a sole proprietor, do I need to file a DBA?

A: It depends. If you are operating your business as a sole proprietor, you’ll need to file a DBA to operate your business with a name that’s different than your own personal legal name or last name. For example, if you want to start a gardening business with the name “Spring Flowers Landscaping” then you’ll need to file a DBA to be able to use that name.

But if you’re a sole proprietor and are going to use your own personal legal name or last name for your business, then a DBA isn’t necessary. In addition, you don’t need to file a DBA to use a business name that includes your surname and a combination of words that accurately describes your business. For example, if your name is Jane Doe and you have a landscaping business, you do not need a DBA to call your business “Doe’s Landscaping.”

Q: If my business is structured as an LLC or Corporation, do I need a DBA?

A: If you filed to become a corporation or LLC, then you’ve already registered your business name with the state and don’t need a DBA to use the official name on the filing paperwork. However, you do need to file a DBA to use any variations from the official name on your LLC/incorporation paperwork.

Q: When do I need to file my DBA?

A: You shouldn’t conduct any business under a fictitious business name until filing a DBA for that name. Most banks typically won’t let you open a business bank account (and accept checks to your fictitious business name) until you have filed for a DBA.

Q: Is there a difference “fictitious business name” and Doing Business As (DBA)?

A: No. Fictitious business name, DBA, and assumed business name all mean the same thing.

Q: If I file for a DBA, does this prevent others from using my business name?

A: No. In most states, a DBA doesn’t guarantee exclusive rights to a name. When you file for an LLC or corporation, this can give you exclusive rights in your own state. You can also file for a trademark to guarantee exclusive rights to the name within your line of business in all 50 states.

Do you need help filing a DBA or have a question about another aspect of starting a business? Call the CorpNet.com team today for a free business consultation at: 888.449.2638

                               

Registering Your Business Name: Three Ways To Get It Done

What’s in a name? More than you might realize when it comes to choosing one for your business!

Aside from the obvious must haves of grabbing customers’ attention and being memorable, a business name must also be available to use—and protected.

Selecting a name for your company is only the first step in the process. You also have to determine that no one else is already using the name by performing a name search.  Then register your business name, so you can legally use it and so other businesses don’t try to claim it as their own.

Imagine if you’re operating under the business name of “Sylvia’s Salon” and someone a few blocks away opens its doors as “Sylvia’s Salon.” That would confuse customers. It could also end up hurting your reputation if someone were to write a bad review of your company when they were actually referring to an experience they had at the other Sylvia’s Salon.

Three Options For Registering Your Business Name

How you register your business name will largely depend on your business’s legal structure.

1. Securing Your Business Name By Forming an LLC, S-Corporation, or C-Corporation

When creating a formal business structure for your company, you take care of your business name registration in the process. And by forming an LLC or registering as an S-Corporation or C-Corporation, you also gain certain liability protection and potential tax benefits.

Submitting articles of incorporation or articles of organization (sometimes called “certificate of organization”) to your state automatically registers your business name within that state. Prior to approving your name, a search is done to ensure it’s not already being used by another business in the state.

2. File A Fictitious Business Name

If you’re a sole proprietor, you can very simply claim and protect your name by registering a fictitious business name with your state or the city/county clerk. This is known as filing a DBA (Doing Business As).

The fee for filing a DBA is typically nominal. So you’re sure no one else has rights to the name, you’ll want to do a name search before filing. Many banks require a DBA before they’ll open a business bank account for an entrepreneur. Depending on the state you’re registering in, you might also be required to publish a notice in a local newspaper and/or a local legal publication to inform the community that you’ve filed your business name.

If you’re using a business name that includes both your first and last name (such as Sylvia Benton’s Salon), you can use the name without filing a DBA. Other names need to be filed as DBAs.

3. Trademark Your Name

Registering your business name as a trademark (or service mark if you sell services) provides the most protection against the threat of others using your name to sell similar products and services. Federal trademark registration will safeguard your name nationally rather than only within your state.

To register for a federal trademark, you must submit an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and pay the applicable fee. As with the other options for registering your business name, make sure you do a trademark search before filing to verify your name isn’t already in use.

Your business name is far more than “just a name.” It lays the foundation for your company’s identity and professional reputation. As with any registration or filing that has legal ramifications, you’ll want to cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s when registering your business name.

Not sure of the process or don’t have the time to take care of it on your own? Save yourself the hassle! Contact CorpNet today for a free business consultation and we can help you register your business name!

Image: Adobe Stock

                               

Legal Steps to Start a Business & Special Offer

image002So you have an idea and want to get that business off the ground – congratulations!!

When planning the steps to start your business, there are some legal aspects you don’t want to overlook. These steps may not be the most glamorous parts of starting a business, but you want to make sure the business is set up properly from the start to avoid issues down the road.

Here are my must-do steps to legally start a business followed by a special offer on CorpNet.com services:

1 – Choose a business name

Have an ideal name in mind for your business? That’s a great start, but before you get too attached and order those business cards you’ll want to make sure it’s legally available for use. You can do a corporate name search and/or check with your state’s Secretary of State database to see if the name is registered by someone else. I also recommend running a trademark search to see if someone has already filed for a trademark. If you search both places and the result is clear – great job! You should move forward with that name. If you find that the name is already in use – you may want to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm some other options.

2 – Choose a business structure

If you don’t officially form a business structure your default is to operate as a sole proprietor. A sole proprietorship does not separate your personal and business finances so if down the line your business is sued, your personal assets can be threatened.

Forming an LLC or Corporation will protect your personal assets from any liabilities of the company.

Forming an LLC, otherwise known as the Limited Liability Company, is a great option for businesses that want legal protection without a lot of paperwork.

The C Corporation requires more paperwork and formalities, which can be a headache for small business owners. However, this structure is ideal for businesses that plan to reinvest their profits back into the company, seek venture capital funding or plan to go public.

Another popular structure is the S Corporation. The S Corp does not file its own taxes but is treated as a pass-through entity. It is a great structure for a small business owner who can qualify as the IRS places limited both on the number of owners and who can be an owner.

Not sure what structure is best for you? Try the CorpNet Business Structure Wizard that can help you decide!

3 – Register your business name

If you are forming an LLC or corporation, this step automatically registers your name with the state. However, if you choose to operate as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, then you will need to register your business name by filing a Doing Business As (DBA).

Registering your business name ensures that you are legally able to operate your business under that name in the state and also ensures hat no one else can use the name in your state.

Ready to take these legal steps to start your business? Use CorpNet.com and for a limited time get 10% off any Deluxe or Complete order! Call us at 888.449.2638 for a free business consultation and mention SOCIAL10 for your discount!

                               

Why Customers Love Us – CorpNet Reviews

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 2.43.23 PMAnother month, another great set of 5-star CorpNet reviews to showcase our stellar customer service.

Our team has been hard at work helping all kinds of clients with their business startup needs. From assisting someone who accidentally selected the wrong entity to helping an oversees entrepreneur, our team gets the job done so you can focus on what you do best – running your business.

Here is a look at why customers love using CorpNet.com to incorporate, form an LLC, file a DBA and more! Check out all of our reviews on TrustPilot. Are you ready to get your business off the ground? Reach out anytime for a free business consultation.

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Why Customers Love Us – CorpNet Reviews

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We get asked a lot how we are different from our competitors. Although we offer similar services, we take great pride in our stellar customer service which sets us apart from the rest!

You call us, use our chat feature or email us – one of stellar tenured business filing experts in our Westlake Village, CA headquarters will answer. We’re a small team who wants the best for you and your business! No outsourced call centers here!

Just to show how much our customers love us we are starting a new series on the CorpNet Blog sharing some CorpNet reviews. These clients took the time to leave us a great review and we appreciate every single one of them.

Here is a look at why customers love using CorpNet.com to incorporate, form an LLC, file a DBA and more! Check out all of our reviews on TrustPilot. Are you ready to get your business off the ground? Reach out anytime for a free business consultation.

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Delving Into The DBA: Does Your Small Business Need To File For One?

unsure young woman scratching her head

DBA who?

Also called a fictitious business name, trade name, or assumed business name, a Doing Business As (DBA) filing lets the public know you’re the true owner of your business.

Do you need one for your business?

You’ll need a DBA if one of the following scenarios applies to you:

1. You’re a sole proprietor or general partnership and want to conduct business using a name that’s different from your own name. For example, if Jane Doe wants to open a gift boutique called Things That Matter, she would need to file a DBA. In some states, you’re allowed to use your personal name in addition to a description of your product or service without filing a DBA. For instance, Jane Doe may not need to file a DBA if she wants to call her business Jane Doe’s Gift Boutique. You will need to file a DBA if your business name indicates a group (such as, The Doe Group) or if you only use your first name (i.e., Jane’s Gift Boutique).

2. You have incorporated or formed a limited liability company (LLC) and are operating your business under a name that is different from the name of your company or LLC. To illustrate this scenario, suppose Jane Doe has formed an LLC called Jane Doe Gift Boutique, LLC and Jane also wants to operate her business under the name Janesgifts.com; the LLC would need to file for a DBA for Janesgifts.com. Similarly, if Jane wanted to expand into interior design consulting, then Jane Doe Gift Boutique, LLC would need to file a DBA to do business as Jane Doe Interior Design Consultants.

The DBA designation was created to protect consumers by preventing deceitful business owners from operating under a different name to dodge legal trouble. When you file a DBA, you typically need to print an announcement in the local newspaper, so your community knows who owns the business.

What benefits does a DBA deliver?

Above all else, registering a DBA keeps you in compliance with the law. And for sole proprietors who want to avoid complexity and expense, a DBA lets them use a business name without creating a formal a corporation or LLC. Filing a DBA gives the sole proprietor the freedom to use a business name that will help them market their products or services while establishing a separate professional business identity. Realize, however, that while forming an LLC or corporation protects your business name at the state level, a DBA won’t protect your business name from being used by others—that would require trademark protection.

If you’re a sole proprietor, you will need to file a DBA to open a bank account and receive payments in the name of your business from your customers. Most banks will ask for a copy of your filed DBA before they’ll open your account, so you’ll want to file sooner rather than later!

An LLC or corporation may operate multiple businesses without having to create separate legal entities for each business when they have DBAs. For instance, if Jane Doe plans to open several different boutique shops, restaurants, or websites, she might want to set up one corporation with a relatively generic name and then file a DBA for each shop, restaurant, or website.

Essentially, a DBA will help you expand your business while controlling costs and minimizing the amount of paperwork you have to deal with.

How do you file for a DBA?

From state to state and county to county, the requirements for filing a DBA vary. In some states, you register for DBAs at the county level (and individual counties may have different forms and fees). In some states, you register your DBA with the State Secretary of State or another state agency.

Depending on the state you’re located in, you might also need to publish a notice in your local newspaper and then provide proof to the state that you have done so.

To review the different requirement for DBA filings in your state, you can visit the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) website or use a professional legal document filing service to make sure you’re meeting all county and state requirements.

How soon should you register for a DBA?

You should file for a DBA before doing any business under your fictitious business name. Some jurisdictions give you some leeway and will allow you to file shortly after you first use the name. With a DBA a prerequisite to opening a bank account and forming contracts with customers, however, I recommend filing for one upfront. I also encourage you to try our free business name search tool before filing your DBA to see if your preferred business name is available.

Filing a DBA is an affordable way to keep your business in good legal standing from the very start. Ready to begin?

You can start the process quickly and conveniently online at CorpNet.com!

Image: Dollar Photo Club

2013 Business New Year Resolution Giveaway

76_3355186Happy 2013 everyone!!

A new year means new beginnings, new challenges, new year resolutions and a new giveaway at Corpnet.com!

We want to know what your business new year resolutions are!! Whether it is to invest in new technology to help make your business run more efficiently, to extending a ‘thank you’ to your staff with Friday lunches, or if it’s simply to make those entrepreneurial dreams come true to start a business – we want to know!

We will pick our favorite 3 resolutions and they each will win a FREE basic formation from Corpnet.com (Corp, DBA or LLC) PLUS a $100 AMEX gift card to get you a little extra motivated this year!!

Here’s how to enter!

  • Follow Corpnet.com on Twitter or LIKE us on Facebook
  • Send us a tweet with your resolution in the message OR comment on our Facebook page with your resolution (adding inspiring photos get you bonus points!)
  • Contest STARTS today, January 2, 2013 and ENDS on January 31, 2013.
  • If we get over 100 entries, we will choose 3 more winners – so share with your friends so more people can win!

GOOD LUCK and happy 2013!

Image: PhotoSpin

By | January 2nd, 2013|Events & Announcements|0 Comments

Multiple Ventures? How to Best Structure your Multi-Brand Business

775_4297457I’m always in awe of the many talents of today’s entrepreneur…the wedding photographer who also writes children’s books, the copy editor who sells homemade soap, and the stay-at-home mom who doubles as a part-time caterer and jewelry designer. Today’s creative professionals often find themselves making income through a creative patchwork of diverse interests and talents.

Take Sue as an example. She recently called into the office with no fewer than five ventures. She has been selling children’s clothing, handbags, and craft supplies on Etsy. After a few solid years on Etsy, Sue was now ready to take the next step and launch her own websites outside of Etsy, as well as expand into handmade paper goods and home décor. Continue reading “Multiple Ventures? How to Best Structure your Multi-Brand Business” »

By | August 24th, 2012|Choosing A Business Structure|7 Comments

Now that I’ve Incorporated…What’s Next?

740_3681478The most frequently asked questions AFTER incorporation

Over the course of my career, I’ve helped over hundreds of thousands of small business owners incorporate a business or form and LLC. And certainly there are many questions leading up to the process, such as…what type of business should I form? What’s the difference between a C Corporation and an S Corporation? But I’ve also found there can be just as many questions after incorporating a business or forming an LLC.

I’ve put together some of the more commonly asked questions to help you navigate life after the incorporation or LLC formation process:

I used to be a sole proprietor and I had a Federal Tax ID number. Do I need to get a new Federal Tax ID number now that I’ve incorporated/formed an LLC?

The answer here is yes. An LLC or corporation is its own separate entity (remember an LLC or Corp can sue, be sued, get a loan…) and as such, it needs its own federal tax ID number, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Think of business formation like the birth of child. Once a child is born, it needs its own social security number. The same holds true for your business. Continue reading “Now that I’ve Incorporated…What’s Next?” »

By | July 28th, 2012|Business Checklists, Startups|0 Comments

CorpNet.com: Helping Entrepreneurs Start New Businesses Online!

Nellie Akalp is a savvy entrepreneur, wife, and mother of four (inlcuding a newborn). As the CEO of CorpNet.com, she runs a small business that helps guide entrepreneurs and small business owners through the process of starting a business, incorporating a business, and filing business-critical legal documentation with an easy and cost-effective online service.

“With the downturn in the job market, more people are starting new businesses to take control of their own destiny and create opportunities for themselves,” says Nellie. “But the process of incorporating a business can be intimidating. A lot of people might not understand the legal requirements, or they might wonder, ‘Am I doing this right?’ CorpNet makes it easy. We take it off the ‘to-do list’ of our clients.”

If you want to start and grow a business in a way that complies with state laws and protects your personal assets, CorpNet gives free consultations to help choose the right business structure and file all the necessary paperwork. “You don’t need to hire an attorney to incorporate a business,” says Nellie. “CorpNet gives you a much less expensive way to start your business and comply with the specific requirements of whatever state you’re in.”

Nellie offers these four big reasons to incorporate your business: Continue reading “CorpNet.com: Helping Entrepreneurs Start New Businesses Online!” »

By | June 30th, 2012|Choosing A Business Structure, Starting a Business|1 Comment