When a company, organization or individual wants to conduct business under a name other than their own (this is called a “fictitious name”), most US states require that entity to file a
“DBA” (these are referred to in the UK as “trading as”). In other words, John Smith’s lawn mowing business called “John’s Best Cuts” would file that name as its DBA. Then, legally, John
can advertise his business as “John’s Best Cuts.” Usually your DBA is required to open a business bank account, advertise, accept payments and create contracts. By registering your DBA
you prevent other competing area companies from using that same name. Corporations can create more than one DBA without having to create separate business entities for each of them.
Sole Proprietors are one business type for which DBAs make a lot of sense. John’s internet-based business called “Worldwide Clamshell Exporters” does not betray the fact that the
business is just him working alone out of his house.
There are certain rules that must apply to DBA names: You can’t obtain a DBA for something illegal (e.g., “John’s Heroin Emporium”). The name cannot make false claims (e.g.,
“John’s U.S. Department of Defense”). When you start your company they will be registered under the names of the owners.