Bobs LLC dba FrankFurters
January 5, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

LLC d/b/a BBQ. Let's say I incorporate as "cavalierisawesome lol LLC". I then make a business card that says "Bob's Consulting". When I do business, the bills are settled to "cavalierisawesome lol llc". Can I market or advertise my services in a name separate from my incorporated name?

The webs fail me, so I turn to the Ask.Mefi gods. Let's set a few ground rules:

1) I'm assuming I need to file a d/b/a for any name I put on business cards, websites, etcetera. I'd just love to be a little more informed before I start soliciting esquires.

2) This is not a case of wanting to change the business name every month, but more rather; I don't know what the hell I want to call the business yet, but I'm getting bites to do work. So I'd like to incorporate now, and then later use a different name for more established collateral/branding.

3) I'm certainly not trying to co-opt or otherwise take someone's trademarked, lovable name. See #2.
posted by cavalier to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's as easy as you just wrote it. Just start using the dba name.

The right thing to do is to get the dba name registered (with your state - you're in the USA right?). It's sometimes called an 'alternate name' filing. You'll need that record of filing to get a bank account in the dba name (because you won't be able to stop people writing checks to the dba name).

You'll much better info on your state's government website - they all have lots of stuff about setting up businesses.
posted by Xhris at 11:16 AM on January 5, 2009

There are state and local rules for this, so any answer here is likely to be too general, but I'm not aware of a restriction on the number of "fictitious names" that an entity is permitted to file, only that most jurisdictions do require some sort of filing. That could be with the county, the state, whatever, but it's usually something.

The major restrictions are that 1) you can't use a name someone else is using, and 2) you can't defraud the public. It's easily conceivable that by mucking about with business names you can concoct a scheme to unjustly enrich yourself, but as long as you aren't doing that, you can usually do business under any currently-unused name you like.
posted by valkyryn at 11:18 AM on January 5, 2009

Response by poster: Ah, sorry, should have figured state laws would get into it. It's the sunshine state of Florida, yahoo woohoo!

And yes, I'm still trying to discern this information from the Florida state guides, but, as you might imagine, even the "Government" sponsored links look like the SEO salesweasel sites and vice versa. It's been a fun afternoon :D
posted by cavalier at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2009

Best answer: The Florida Department of State Division of Corporations maintains a Fictitious Business Name registry. Go to and figure out what is necessary to register the FBNs you wish to use..

This may be a good start, but with any business matter, talk to your lawyer about doing it the right way.
posted by phredgreen at 11:37 AM on January 5, 2009

You should contact a lawyer about the particulars, but another thing to bear in mind is that, generally speaking, if your underlying corporate structure is an LLC, then you must state that your business is an LLC on all of your contracts, advertising, business cards, etc regardless of the name you are doing business under. If you don't do this, you run a very strong risk of losing your limited liability status. Part of the trade off of the limited liability status is informing the people you do business with that your liability is, in fact, limited.
posted by jedicus at 11:47 AM on January 5, 2009

« Older Magic Chinese calligraphy paper   |   What sort of bag am I looking for? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.