Pile of books with letters DBA on top. and piggy bank next to it. Concept: How to set up a DBA with LegalZoom
By: omunoz
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How to set up a DBA with LegalZoom

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Your business name is more important than you may think. It helps establish your brand. It reflects you and your company. If good enough, it can attract new clients and potential partners. It will resonate in the minds of consumers: that’s why you have to make it yours, unique and memorable. But also, a properly registered business will help you comply with legal requirements and separates you and your business to avoid unnecessary legal liability. It is a way to get the legal right to operate your company with a name different from your own. Getting a DBA is simple and cheap. You can do it through a platform called LegalZoom. Learn here how to set up a DBA with this tool.

What is a DBA and why do you need one?

DBA refers to “Doing Business As.” It is also known as “trade name”, “trading name”, or “fictitious name”. In other words, it works as a pseudonym; a different name than yours or the legal name under which your company is registered.

Why do you need a DBA?

  1. It allows you to form a separate business identity at a low cost, without having to form a corporation or a limited liability company 
  2. It allows you to separate your finances from those of your business. This protects your personal assets in case your company gets sued.
  3. It helps you meet some legal requirements: customers can ask for it before signing a contract, and some lenders ask for it when you apply for a loan.
  4. To open a business bank account, your bank may require an employer identification number (EIN). This number is obtained by registering a DBA.
  5. It can help you with your marketing efforts. The name of your brand is like a business card for your consumers. If it is the right one and you promote it well, it will attract new customers.

How to know if you need a DBA? Find out here

How to set up a DBA the traditional way?

  1. Search the name you want to register in a database and verify that nobody else is using it.
  2. Contact the Secretary of State in your location: the requirements and fees to register a DBA vary depending on the state. You will have to complete the forms that they tell you and pay the required fee, which can range between $25 to $100.
  3. In some states, you must publish your DBA in a local newspaper, and submit proof that this note was published.

Applying for a DBA is a simple procedure, but not everyone has the time to do the paperwork in person. Luckily, there is an alternative: that’s where LegalZoom can help you. You can do all the processing at one time from the comfort of your computer.

What is LegalZoom?

LegalZoom is an online platform that provides legal advice to companies. It can help you process several legal documents, such as those needed to register a DBA, and others required to create and operate businesses.

Their services include direct advice from lawyers and tax specialists, in areas such as intellectual property, contracts, and tax legislation. To access the LegalZoom services you must answer a simple questionnaire. The company handles all the paperwork involved.

How to set up a DBA with LegalZoom in 3 steps

As we have seen above,  you can create your own brand with a DBA. How to set up a DBA with LegalZoom? Do it in just 3 steps:

Step 1:

Fill in a questionnaire. It has several sections. Remember to always fill in all the fields and click “save & continue” when you finish each section:

  1. Type the name you would like for your business. Confirm it’s the first time you register a business name and provide the state in which you operate.
  2. The next section refers to your company’s information. Specify how your business is configured: corporation, individual owner, limited liability company (LLC) or general partnership.
  3. Enter your company’s address.  
  4. What activity does your company do or what’s your field or industry? If you are in the food business, you should choose the “food service” option and specify if it’s a restaurant or a food truck, or choose the category that best suits your case.
  5. Who will sign the application? This person must be a senior business executive.
  6. Finally, enter your Employer Identification Number or EIN. If you don’t have one yet, LegalZoom gives you the option to request it.

A summary of the information you provided will show up on your screen. Verify that all your data are correct and click “save & continue”.

Step 2:

Choose the service package that best suits your needs. LegalZoom offers two packages: Standard DBA ($99 + state fees that apply) and Premium DBA ($119 + state fees that apply). The second comes with additional benefits, such as direct advice from lawyers, revision of legal documents, expert advice on taxes, and discounts on other services.

Step 3:

Provide additional information to complete the transaction. You just have to fill out a short form with some contact information, and specify how you are going to pay for the plan of your choice.

LegalZoom will take care of the rest: it will process your DBA application and you just have to wait to receive the receipt.

Why use LegalZoom?

  • The company has wide experience in this field. They have filed more than 175,000 DBA applications.
  • LegalZoom helps you find a good name. The platform does an exhaustive search to check if the name of your choice is available. If it’s not, they help you find one that fits your needs and purpose.
  • They take care of the publishing of your DBA name in a local newspaper (required in some states), and they file your proof of publication ( also required in some states)
  • You can contact LegalZoom during any step of the process if you have questions or want to talk to a representative.
  • You can communicate directly with an attorney if you have questions about any legal matter. LegalZoom puts at your service its network of independent professionals. With the premium plan, you have a 30-day trial of attorney advice.

To sum up

If you want to start doing business on the right foot, creating a DBA is the first step to take. Now you know how to set up a DBA. With a registered DBA, your brand will have its own identity and, most importantly,  legal support. With a DBA you can expand your company and access all the benefits offered by banks and other lenders to small businesses.

Registering a DBA is very easy and you can do it yourself, but if you don’t have time, or if you feel overwhelmed by the procedure, LegalZoom is a smart alternative. This online platform does the paperwork for you and provides advice if you need it.

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