Registering a business name (DBA)
Registering a business name so you can DBA (Do Business As) a fictitiously named entity is pretty easy.
If you have not named your business or thought about it much you should read the article about it: How to name your business. Are you going to need to register the name as a domain name for a website? Go read the How to name your business article if you haven’t thought about doing a website yet.
Validate that the Name isn’t being Used
- Look in the phonebook business pages
- Google the company name
- Tradename search: www.uspto.gov (needs more information)
- Ask the local county clerk (in county courthouse)
You could also try a service like this one: Free Business Name Search
You will file at the county courthouse. Ask the county clerk to register a business name so that you can “Do Business As” whatever fictitious name you have for your business. You use this business name for business accounts such as a business bank account. You do not use your personal name for business transactions as much as possible. This reduces liability and increases credibility.
You generally will have to run an ad in the local newspaper for 3 weeks. The person at the courthouse will tell you what you need to do. It runs in the paper to notify people of the business opening as well as so others can find out if they should contest the business name if they own it.
After you have run the ad in the paper as they request you will be instructed to bring receipt of this as well as possibly a clipping back to the courthouse so that filing can be completed. Follow what they instruct you to do. They may have different rules in your area.
See also: Register your Fictitious or “Doing Business As” Name by SBA (small business administration)
There has been debate over if you should obtain a trademark on your business name or not. The consensus is that if you ever want to move into other business actions (e.g. you run a blog but want to sell it as a book later. Blogging is one thing and books are another.) that you should get a trademark. If you plan to move your business across state lines, you should trademark your business name. Basically, if you want to have any flexibility in the future, you should get a trademark. Sure you can wait, but the longer you do, the harder it is going to be.
They do cost money and do require you to fight any infringements or you lose your rights to the trademark. Trademarks are done for specific uses. So a dog food company could use a trademark while a mining company could use the same trademark but in a different space. If you want to cover your bases you can, or you can just stay within your sector of business (needs citation).
Avoid Being the next Turner Barr by Registering your Trademark