As you become familiar with the life of a small business owner, you will run into some jargon along the way: 

ASM… After Sale Marketing

EPOS… Electronic Point of Sale

DBA… Doing Business As

No need to close up shop just because you don’t know a few acronyms. Being a business owner is an ongoing learning process and even the most seasoned veterans in the industry still have a little growing to do. 

DBA Meaning: What is Doing Business As? 

DBA is an acronym used in the small business industry that stands for “doing business as.” This is when a small business operates under a different name from the legal name it’s registered as. The DBA may also be referred to as a “fictitious business name” or “assumed business name” so should you see these alternatives, know they are referring to the same concept. 

DBA was created to protect consumers from business owners who may dishonestly operate under an assumed name to avoid legal troubles. Today, DBA filings are public records to create transparency for consumers. 

What isn’t a DBA?

Filing for a DBA name is not the same as registering your business as an entity. When you register your business, you are legally forming it and choosing a structure, such as sole proprietorship, corporation, or Limited Liability Company (LLC). The DBA strictly relates to the name of your business. 

Why Your Small Business Needs a DBA

Similar to why a writer may use a pen name when publishing their work, sometimes there are personal reasons why you’d like to keep your own name separate from your business. As a business owner, you may want to get creative with your business name and not name your food truck or consulting firm after yourself. 

Another reason to consider a fictitious name is to create a separate legal entity, distinguishing between you (the owner) and your business. This distinction will protect you from personal liability in case of any legal issues. Should the business ever change its name to something different from what it’s registered as, you would need to file a new DBA. The DBA would list your original name, followed by its new name under “Doing business as.” 

Should Your Small Business File for a DBA?

Filing a DBA for your small business comes with other benefits, too. The process for DBA registration depends on your state. Typically, there will be a DBA form and a filing fee, but whether this is done through the county clerk’s office, Secretary of State’s office or both is up to your business’s home state.

It Will Make Small Business Banking Easier

Every business owner should open up a separate savings and checking account for their small business to keep your business and personal finances separate. Aside from simply being more organized, having a separate business account will also protect your personal assets and your credit score and reputation amongst lenders in the case of a lawsuit or business closure. 

To open a business bank account, you need an employer identification number. If you have yet to receive one for your business, filing a DBA will give you one. 

You Can Keep Your Personal and Business Brands Separate

Even though your business is your heart and soul, even the most dedicated business owners want a break. Having a DBA can help separate you from your business, meaning you can run your business behind the scenes. This will allow you to maintain your personal social media presence, relationships, and activities, to whatever level of privacy you prefer, while simultaneously growing a separate presence for your business. Having a memorable name to attach to social profiles, sponsorships, or merchandise will encourage your business to take on a life of its own. 

You Want to Rebrand Your Business

If you have some major internal changes in your business, a DBA can help you easily rebrand and change the name to reflect a new chapter in your business. Be prepared, however, to work double time to market your small business in order to nurture old and establish new relationships with your customer base. 

Supports Expanding Your Business

After filing for a DBA, you can also file for Sub-DBAs. A DBA allows businesses to run multiple firms under your one registered business, meaning you don’t have to go through the process of forming separate entities. 

This will give you the opportunity to expand your business into other ventures, such as taking your boutique to an online store or a farmer’s market stand to a brick and mortar restaurant. You can even start an additional, new business altogether. You’ll have to register each new expansion as a separate DBA. If your business eventually expands beyond state lines, you will need to file a foreign qualification for each additional state. 

Provides More Marketing Opportunities

DBAs allow your business to take on a unique name that becomes the face of your business. This will be the name that your customers initially interact with and the ultimate identity they will know you as. Having a known identity will provide leverage when generating marketing ideas to earn a following for your business. You can also use this name to launch a website, build a following on social media, and gain more visibility for your business.