Ready to make it official?  

Filing your assumed name certificate or DBA is one of the first steps in turning an idea into a business.  We are honored to help you with the process. 

If you are ready to get started go ahead and start answering questions below in the Pebble DBA Generator.

However, if you have some questions about getting your DBA and starting your business click on the link that best matches your question.

The DBA / Assumed name certificate process:

 

 

  • Decide what you want to name your business 

  • Do a name search if your state requires it or if you are worried that someone else in your city or county is already using the name you want to use

 

  • Complete the Assumed Name Certificate - We are helping you with that

 

  • Get the completed Assumed Name Certificate notarized - DO NOT sign it before you are in front of a notary.

 

  • Take the completed & notarized form to the city or county clerks office to record your assumed name.  She or he cannot tell you anything about the contents of your form, they just record the document you provide.  They are not being mean, in many states they law prohibits them from answering certain kinds of questions. 

 

  • We recommend you get a copy of the recorded form with the county stamp / barcode etc. to show that you have filed your assumed name.  This will be needed to open a bank account or cash a check. 

 

  • The city or county clerks office will send you the official recorded document for your records.   

 

 

Some things to keep in mind as you choose your business name:

 

 

  • Choose a name for your business that is different enough from other businesses in your area so you dont confuse customers. 

 

  • Some states have name search requirements before filing a DBA to prevent the unintentional use of the same business name by multiple companies.

 

  • Filing a DBA does not stop another company from using the same name you do, but it does record who was using it first. 

 

  • The city or county clerk cannot tell you if someone else is using the same name.  They are not being mean, in many states they law prohibits them from answering certain kinds of questions. 

 

  • The city or county clerk can tell you where the resources /system to do a name search is, but they cannot help you do the search.  It is your responsibility to do the name search. 

 

  • Each city or county may keep a separate name list, and you may want  to register your DBA name with each city or county you are doing business in.

 

  • If you submit a DBA with incorrect information the clerk will not check your work for accuracy.  Please double check your work beforehand.

 

Who can you talk to about starting a business:

 

 

  • Small business development centers (SBDC) are a network of free small business consulting centers that are available to discuss business ideas with an get help from.   

 

  • Most SBDCs are connected to a college or university, you can find the nearest SBDC to you here.

 

  • You can use the Pebble Plan business planning software in combination with the individual consulting you get at the SBDC.   In fact it was designed so you can work on your own as much as you want to, then when you need help you can talk to a consultant about the items you want help with.

  • If you don't live close to an SBDC or you would prefer to work with a private consultant, you can contact Pebble Plan and if we know of a qualified small business consult in your area we will be glad to make an introduction.

 

The type of business entity you choose to start has legal & financial implications.

  

Two of the most commonly asked about topics with legal implications are: 

 

1.  Ownership & control of the business:

 

  • Sole Proprietorship:  As a sole proprietor you have 100% control & ownership of the business.

  • Married couple as a Sole Proprietorship:  

    • If you are in a community property state you jointly have 100% control & ownership of the business - like a joint checking account
    • If you are not in a community property state this type of business formation may not be allowed - if it is, check with your state's laws on how ownership is divided  

  • General Partnership:  Unless you have a contract saying otherwise you each own 50% of the business and share control of the business equally.

 

 

2.  Personal liability of the owner:

  • Sole Proprietorship:   As a sole proprietor you are 100% personally liable for the activities of your business.  Insurance can help reduce what you may have to pay out if there is a situation, but you own the liability.

  • Married couple as a Sole Proprietorship:  

    • If you are in a community property state you jointly have 100% of the liability for business activities

    • If you are not in a community property state this type of business formation may not be allowed - if it is, check with your state's laws on liability

  • General Partnership:  Unless you have a contract saying otherwise you each jointly share 100% of the liability for business activities.  Yes, even though you only each own 50% of the company.  

 

 

Two of the most commonly asked about topics with financial implications are:

 

1.  Taxes:

 

  • Sole Proprietorship:  The business will not file it's own federal income tax return; it is considered a pass-through entity.  When you file your personal federal income tax return you will include the businesses earnings or losses along with your personal income and file one federal tax return.  State income taxes laws vary from state to state and it is recommended that you seek professional help with filing your businesses taxes.

 

Sales taxes (if your business is required to collect sales tax) are filed separately from income taxes and are paid to the state and or local taxing authorities.  Consult your state comptrollers office or state tax office for your states rules.

 

  • Married couple as a Sole Proprietorship:  Income tax laws vary from state to state and it is recommended that you seek professional help with filing your businesses taxes.  Your choice of how you file (Jointly, separately etc.) can have an impact on the advice your tax professional gives you - make you sure you tell her/him everything they need to know to help you file accurately.

 

Sales taxes (if your business is required to collect sales tax) are filed separately from income taxes and are paid to the state and or local taxing authorities.  Consult your state comptrollers office or state tax office for your states rules.  

 

 

  • General Partnership:  The business will not file it's own federal income tax return; it is considered a pass-through entity. When each partner files their personal federal income tax return each will include the appropriate portion of the businesses earnings or losses along with their personal income and file one federal tax return each.  State income taxes laws vary from state to state and it is recommended that you and your partner seek professional help with filing your businesses taxes.

 

Sales taxes (if your business is required to collect sales tax) are filed separately from income taxes and are paid to the state and or local taxing authorities.  Consult your state comptrollers office or state tax office for your states rules. 

 

 

2.  How much it costs to get started:

  • Your city or county clerk will charge a fee to record your DBA.  This is usually between $15 - $50 but some some counties and cities charge more.

 

  • Minimum deposits for a business bank account are usually between $50 - $100 and will often cost about $10 per month to maintain.

 

  • Getting and EIN from the IRS is free.  This is like your businesses federal ID#. You don't need to pay someone to get it for you

 

  • Getting DUNS # is free.  This is an ID used by many governmental entities to track their venders.  You don't need to pay someone to get it for you.

 

  • Business liability insurance will cost more or less depending on the type of risks your business has and the amount of coverage you need.  Talk to a few local insurance brokers or agents with a good reputation to get quotes from and choose the one you like best.

 

  • Not all businesses can afford a lawyer early on and some businesses do fine for a while without an lawyer.  But like insurance, lawyers help reduce risk so as your business grows finding a layer you trust and get along with is a good idea.  If you have legal concerns because of specific issues related to your business it is better to talk to a lawyer sooner than later.  Legal matters typically don't get better with age.

 

 ** Reminder:  This information is not legal or professional financial advice.  This is educational material provided for educational purposes only.  This information has not been reviewed by an attorney or licensed financial services provider.

 

The information provided above are simple explanations for potentially complex issues, questions about your specific situation should be asked to qualified professionals.