Ever wonder why so many businesses are the owner’s name followed by what they sell? I used to think it was done because of convention, or a lack of creativity, or even a bit of narcissism. While all those could be valid reasons, there is another reason that I recently learned about when trying to come up with a name for my jewelry business.
If the name of your business does not contain your surname, it is a Fictitious Business Name (FBN), also known as Doing Business As (DBA), and needs to be registered with the county clerk. This is so your customers can have access to your real name and address, in case someone has complaints or wants to sue you. All the information on the Fictitious Business Name Statement filed with the county clerk is public record, including your residence address. In my county, the fee for registering a fictitious business name is $37.35. It’s good for five years, after which you’ll need to file again.
Within 30 days of registering your fictitious business name, the state of California requires that you publish the name in a local newspaper once a week for four weeks. The announcements will not only include your business name and your name, but also your phone number and address.
After learning all this, I am no longer sure I want to use the shop name that I came up with. The expenses required for a FBN are significant to me, and I’m not even sure how much my business will grow. At this point, it really is just a hobby. I don’t want my information in public records, though I’m sure a lot of it already is there.
I could try to just use my name, but I don’t want to, for several reasons. First, I have quite a boring name. It is actually a common name, so who knows if someone else already has a jewelry business with that name. Second, I value my privacy, so I’ve been careful to not use my name explicitly online much. As much as I like remaining behind aliases, I would think it would be important for me to include my name in the seller info on Etsy. After all, if someone sees urunimi, they might assume it was some other language and I might not be trusted.
Drawbacks in the process aside, having a registered FBN will enable you to open a business account at banks. (Not that I would need one at this point.)
Have any of you actually found it beneficial to use your real name for promoting yourself?
Disclaimer: The information in this post was not meant to take the place of legal advice. Always check with your state and local authorities regarding your legal responsibilities.