Doing Business As (DBA)
A company or individual is considered to be “doing business as” (DBA) if they operate their brand under a name different from their official title.
You can establish an alternative name for your company if you’re just starting a business or are a sole proprietorship. Some states might require you to register your other name, which might come with an additional cost or further requirements depending on the local law. You may, for example, need to place an ad notifying the community of your operating name in the local newspaper.
These names may not include words such as “Corporation,” “Inc.,” “Incorporation,” or “Corp.” In most states, corporations don’t have to register the alternative name they’re operating under.
Why DBAs are Important
There are several reasons why a sole proprietor might wish to operate under a business name different from their own.
- Their own name is familiar
- Their name is easily mistaken with another individual with the same name hence making it harder to direct traffic to their own online services
- Their own name might be confusing to spell or difficult to remember due to length or complexity. Once again, this might make it harder for an interested party to find the business online
- A sole proprietor might wish to appear like a more established business than just a sole proprietor. As such, they’ll brand themselves as a company name rather than using their own.
How to Choose a DBA
When choosing a DBA for yourself or your company, spend some time researching your options carefully and pitching ideas to friends and colleagues. Before settling on anything, ensure that it’s the right fit for your brand.
To help you with this, here are a few things to look out for as you choose the title of your business:
- Is the name easy to spell and remember? Will it stick in people’s minds? Will customers be able to go home and research your business efficiently?
- Does the name already exist? Will you be able to secure yourself a web domain that matches your DBA business name? Is there another individual or a larger company that might compete with you for traffic?
- Does the name represent your operation and the services you provide? Does it sound professional and on-brand?
- Be sure to associate your name with traits that are desirable in your industry. This might be fun, humorous, light, and endearing. Or alternatively, you might need to focus on coming across as conservative, professional, serious, and reliable.
Once a business or sole proprietor has chosen a DBA name to operate under, they must brand all their business activities with their alternative name. It’s imperative that you consistently represent your company across the internet and social media. After all, the last thing you want to do is confuse your prospects!