The back of the newspaper is full of these strange legal postings about someone doing business as a business name. Have you wondered what those are and if you need one? Gain understanding Fictitious Business Names (FBN) and DBAs.
In California it is a consumer protection law that if you do any marketing or hold yourself out to the public under a name that is different from the legal name (a person or entity name) then you need to register it as a Fictitious Business Name (FBN). There are some exceptions like if a sole-proprietor is using their last name. An FBN is essentially the same thing as a DBA, which stands for Doing Business As. FBN and DBA are often used interchangeably, but one may fit better in the context of how you are using the term.
Each county clerk has their own forms to indicate your DBA name
In addition to completing the forms you also need to publish in the local newspaper. The idea is that they need to put people on notice that your legal name and your marketing name are linked.
We offer the service of filing the FBN and publishing for you for a nominal fee in addition to the county and newspaper costs.
Often people believe that a Corporation or LLC is a bigger business and therefore safer to do business with. A misconception is that a corporation or LLC will have more assets to go after if something went wrong and the consumer needed to sue the business. But, the reality is the opposite! Business owners form corporations and LLCs to limit the assets people can access under a lawsuit.
If you know the owner of a business, personally, but they operate as a corporation or LLC, then you need to know that the transaction you are conducting with that person is either: (i) under their personal name, in which you could go after their personal assets in a lawsuit, or (ii) under the entity name, in which case your security is limited to the assets that person has within the entity.
You can put multiple variations of a name on a single FBN application. For example, our law firm legal name is: MeyerPink Law, a Professional Corporation. That is a bit of a mouthful to say every time and to put onto every marketing item. So, a FBN would be helpful with variations of: MeyerPink Law; MeyerPink; and MeyerPink, APC. That way we would be allowed to utilize any of the versions in marketing while knowing that the public was alerted to that they are all one and the same legal entity.
You do want to be careful that too many fictitious business names dilutes your branding. Google is very specific about what names it connects and sometimes even adding the letter ‘s’ to the end of a name can cause it to be differentiated in google searches.
Picking a name is often one of the trickiest things in business. The famous story of Five Guys Burgers where the owners just told the lawyer to use that name for now and they would think of a better name later – well now, they have almost 1,500 locations with that brand name!
If you are ready to level up your business and discuss a corporation or an LLC – reach out today
! If you are struggling with a name or wonder if you should file a DBA or FBN – we would be glad to help you.