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How to Find an Accountant Who Can Help Your Small Business over the Long Haul

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 16, 2012 Updated: April 30, 2012

Just filed your taxes and wished you’d had the help of an accountant? Unhappy with your current accountant? Here are some tips for finding and choosing an accountant you can trust with your small business numbers and rely on for solid financial advice throughout the year.

Why Hire an Accountant

An accountant can save you time and clear up much of the confusion you experience when it comes to managing your finances and taxes, but a trusted accountant can provide other benefits, too.

  • Act as a Trusted Advisor – More than just a tax preparer, an accountant can become a trusted advisor to your small business, helping you manage cash flow, plan for growth, assess risk, and keep your books in order.
  • Help Balance Business and Personal Needs – Many small businesses, particularly sole proprietors and startups, find that their business and personal finances are closely linked. A good accountant can help you make sound judgments beneficial to both.

How to Find an Accountant

Referrals are often the best way to find accountants you can trust. Network and mingle at local business events hosted by your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center, or other small business organizations. Ask other business owners for referrals and even meet accountants. Your state accounting society can also connect you to CPAs.

Interviewing Candidates

Once you have a short list, schedule a free initial consultation to help determine whether your candidates are the right fit for your needs: Some questions to ask include:

What’s your experience with small businesses? Small businesses have dynamic and sometimes complex accounting needs and few resources to manage them.  An accountant who understands these dynamics and has a solid small business client base will likely serve your needs better in the long run. You’ll also want to know that your accountant has experience with businesses that are structured like yours – whether you are a sole proprietor, LLC, partnership, or corporation.

What experience do you have with my industry? Ideally, your accountant should have knowledge of your industry. Many accountants specialize in certain industries such as franchising, real estate, construction or exporting. Again, get referrals from others in your industry.

Do you do more than tax preparation? If you need help with tax filing, then a tax preparer is the way to go. But if you want long-term strategic advice to help you manage your small business finances, be sure to ask about the range of value-add services, such as business valuation, budgeting and forecasting, bookkeeping, risk assessment, and small business startup advice.

Who will I be working with? If your accountant is to become a trusted advisor, then you want to know from the get-go who exactly you’ll be working with.  A smaller firm, where a partner or owner handles the bulk of the work, is often a better choice for small businesses looking for a long-term advisory relationship. The alternative is a larger firm, where you are handed off to a junior accountant after the initial handshake. Other things to consider as you compare your candidates are:

  • Flexibility and responsiveness – for example, are they willing to visit your business premises for quarterly reviews? How quickly will they respond to queries or requests?
  • Fees and charges
  • Value-add services that you may want in the future, such as audit support or CFO services.
  • Professional qualifications, licenses (CPAs are distinguished from other accounting practitioners by strict licensing regulations), and references

Remember...

You are the person who is ultimately responsible for your taxes and finances. Be wary of accountants who promise things that seem too good to be true. If you have concerns about an accountant's claims, you should contact your state's Board of Accountancy. You can file a complaint against a tax preparer at the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility.

Additional Resources

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

3 Tips for Growing Your Business During Tough Times

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 9, 2012 Updated: September 23, 2016

The idea of starting a business during a recession or growing a business during tough times may sound like the ultimate challenge for any entrepreneur or small business owner. Yet, time and time again, small businesses prove that with agility, planning, and the right resources, tough times aren’t just survivable – they can spur growth.

Take for example SBA’s 2011 National Small Business Person of the Year, Rick Cochran, whose Vermont-based Mobile Medical International (MMI), provides advanced medical care to underserved areas.

From humble beginnings in his basement, Cochran created a design and prototype for a mobile surgery unit and quickly expanded his market. Cochran hit a rough patch in 1999 when financing ran dry and the company nearly closed its doors. Much of Cochran’s core team – inspired by his own perseverance, optimism and faith – worked without pay. They were reimbursed later, when the company rebounded.

During his tenure in business, Cochran has benefited from the support of three SBA loans. Driven by his perseverance, today MMI’s staff has grown to 54 employees with gross revenues of more than $14 million.

Strategies for Growth in Tough Times

Independent strategies for survival and growth vary, but there are many common denominators and tactics characteristic of small business success during tough economic times. Here are a few strategies and tactics to consider:

1. Focus on Core Strengths

Diversification into new products and markets is a core growth strategy, but in tough times it usually pays to stick to what you do best and refine your business’ strengths in key product or market areas.

2. Find the Right Team

In order to grow, you’ll need the right team behind you, and you need to be lean. Finding the right talent the first time means that a smart hiring strategy should be part of your growth plan.  Some Small business owners have the knack for identifying the right employee fit. Some don’t. Understanding the talents you need to help you grow can be challenging. Consider consulting a mentor – a business acquaintance or someone from a professional and free mentoring organization like SCORE.  These folks have walked in your shoes and can help.

3. Look for Ways to Cut Costs

From buying used office furniture to moving back into the home office, savvy business owners can save money on just about everything. Here are just a few ideas:  

- Market Smarter – Cut your marketing budget and develop a smart marketing strategy. Can you refine your online marketing plan and focus on using your Facebook page to grow and nurture your specific target demographic? If your business depends on local custom, consider more community marketing activities that will put your business in front of your target customers. Sponsoring charitable events in your community or setting up a fundraiser for a good cause can generate great exposure for your business.

Use technology, such as online videos, as a sales and marketing approach to replace expensive brochures and collateral. This blog is loaded with cost-effective tips and tactics that you can apply across your marketing efforts: A “Complete” Guide to Small Business Marketing (featuring the best of SBA.gov’s blogs).

Smarter marketing also means having more oversight over campaigns and programs with a view to return on investment. Don’t just let campaigns run their course; get more from your dollars by adjusting your tactics, segmenting your lists, and delivering targeted messages. Rieva Lesonsky’s guest blog explains how to Give your Marketing a Checkup.

- Cut Your Business Expenses – It sounds obvious, but a review of all your outgoing expenses can point the way to quick savings. Create a list of necessary expenses and optional expenses. Pay close attention to how your employees spend your money. Use plastic – it may sound contrary to a cost-saving plan, but credit cards can give you perks such as miles and other benefits. You can put limits on cards so employees can’t overspend.

Automate Your Systems – Automating systems, such as accounting, invoicing and payroll, can save time and money.

Use Technology Wisely – Cut back on business travel and other communication expenses by using free web conferencing tools like Skype. What about cloud computing? Migrating business functions online (or to the cloud) can realize big savings. Even your tablet computer can help you cut staffing costs! These blog posts offer more tips:

- Hire a Virtual Assistant – Virtual assistants are a low-cost way of handling business administration functions, freeing up your time, reducing staffing costs, and making sure you have the back-up you need to keep your business running smoothly.

- Buy Surplus – Can you save money on office equipment and electronics buying from eBay or buying government surplus?

What’s worked for your business? Leave a comment below or on the SBA Discussion Boards.

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

7 Considerations for Crafting an Online Privacy Policy

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 28, 2012 Updated: October 4, 2016

If you are starting an online business, conducting email marketing, or interacting with your customers via your website, then you need to be aware of and adhere to online privacy policies.

What do online privacy policies accomplish? Why do you need one? Sometimes, it’s required, such as the statutes that govern email SPAM.  Others are optional. In general, your online privacy policy is your company’s pledge to your customers about how you will use, not use, and protect the consumer data you collect from them.  Check out SBA.gov’s own privacy policy as an example.

A privacy policy is not just lip service to your customers. You'll need to make sure your business follows the policy by implementing reasonable security measures to protect your customers' data.  Failure to follow your business's privacy policy can result in costly legal fees.

The thing about online privacy policies is that they differ from business to business and must be tailored to fit each business’ needs. However, there are some general guidelines and laws to be aware of as you craft your policy.

1. Explain How You Collect and Use Personal Information

While not required by law (although the Federal Trade Commission prohibits any deceptive practices), creating a privacy policy is important if you want people to buy your products. This is particularly important if you are involved in e-commerce or if you collect information in surveys or marketing forms. Every customer has a right to know how you collect and use their information.  

Online privacy policy generators (just run a search on that term and you’ll find them) can help you craft a policy. As you craft yours, be sure to clearly explain the following:

  • Your Cookie Policy – Cookies are used to store user preferences or shopping cart contents. Clearly explain your cookie practice.
  • How You Share Customer Information – Customers need to know that their data will only be used to complete the transaction and that any further use of that data (including selling or distributing it) requires their consent.
  • Contact Information – Make it easy for your customers to contact you or file a complaint.

2. Display Your Privacy Policy – Make sure new customers or users have easy access to your policy by prominently displaying links to it (from your home page, product pages, and in the shopping cart). Remember, you want them to feel comfortable that you take their online security seriously.

3. Publish Your Email Opt-Out Policies – Include opt-out options in your email marketing (the CAN-SPAM Act requires it) and on your website so that your customers have the option of changing or canceling their email notices. Read more about opt-out and CAN-SPAM laws in SBA’s guide to Online Advertising Law.

4. Collecting Data from Children – If your website targets children under the age of 13, you’ll need to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

5. Adhere to Your Policy – Adherence to your policy is important from the standpoint of both customer credibility and the law: the Federal Trade Commission will investigate complaints of unfair or deceptive practices. A case in point: its recent investigation of Facebook privacy practices. As new technologies emerge, such as mobile apps, online communities, and social media, be sure to update your privacy policy to align with any changes to the way you capture and protect consumer information.

6. Get a Seal of Approval – Third party validation of your online privacy and security policy can enhance your credibility.  For a fee, these companies can help you create your privacy policy, or review your existing one, and conduct an annual audit to test your compliance.

7. Talk to an Expert – The Federal Trade Commission is constantly reviewing privacy issues. Areas such as cloud computing, mobile applications, social media, and other online services are increasingly coming under the spotlight. If you do most of your business online, talk to a lawyer who specializes in Internet or online law to determine whether your policies are adequate.

For more detailed tips, take a look at SBA’s Guide to Online Privacy Law for tips on implementing a fail-safe policy.

Additional Resources

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Women Business Owners – How to Expand Your Sources of Capital and Get Outside Financing

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: March 26, 2012 Updated: June 22, 2016

Back in 2010, SBA guest blogger Susan Solovic shared some statistics about the self-perpetuating challenges that female business owners have when it comes to growing their businesses and accessing capital:

  • Less than three percent of women-owned businesses cross over the million dollar threshold in revenue.
  • Access to growth capital (a critical factor in growing a successful, sustainable business) is a challenge for women business owners. However, research by the former Center for Women's Business Research – now the Global Initiative for Women’s Entrepreneurship Research (GIWER) at Babson College – shows that historically, women have not had equal access to financial markets – much of it due to the systemic bias against women business owners.
  • Another important reason women don't obtain the funding they need for their businesses is because they may not understand the process, which frequently means they often don't ask. In 2009, the Center for Women’s Business Research found that nearly half of women business owners don’t seek outside sources of money for their businesses!

Solovic went on to note that “education is critical for women business owners who want to enhance their opportunity to access capital for their businesses.”

Understanding the Financing Options for Women Business Owners

So what steps can women business owners take to understand the business financing options available to them? Through its Office of Women’s Business Ownership, the Small Business Administration offers a combination of online tools, in-person assistance, and training that can help women apply for the much needed capital. In fact, women who take advantage of these resources are proven to be more likely to succeed in business!

Here are just a few resources that can help women business owners explore, learn more, and apply for business financing.

1. SBA.gov Loan Programs and Online Loan Search Tool

While there aren’t any government loan programs specifically for women business owners, the SBA is one of the largest loan guarantors in the country and offers a variety of loan programs to small businesses.

The SBA doesn’t lend the money. Instead, it provides a guarantee to banks and lenders for the money they lend to small businesses owners (and you’ll find information here on what the SBA officially considers “small”). This guarantee protects the lender's interests by promising to pay a portion (the percentage varies by the type of loan) if the business owner defaults on the loan, thus encouraging the lender to take a greater risk than it would have otherwise.

SBA does not discriminate against any group and therefore does not provide funding specific to only one demographic.  

FACT: SBA loans are three to five times more likely to go to women than non-SBA loans. SBA’s flagship loans programs include 7(a) and 504, but women-owned businesses often need small-scale financing, so SBA microloans are another option to consider. In Fiscal Year 2011, approximately 54% of all microloans made went to businesses owned in whole, or in the majority, by women. 

You can explore loan programs based on your business profile and needs using BusinessUSA.gov’s Loans and Grants Search Wizard, or navigate your way around SBA’s Small Business Loans and Grants home page. Alternatively, you can take one of these free online courses that explain SBA’s loan programs: Online Courses for Financing Your Business.

2. Women’s Business Centers

With 110 offices nationwide, Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) are overseen by the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership and provide training and counseling on a variety of topics that help women business owners start and grow. Specifically, they can help guide women through the process of finding and applying for an SBA loan and offer regular training seminars on financing topics. Some also provide access to alternative capital financing programs.

FACT: SBA data has shown that businesses that receive assistance from WBCs have significantly better survival rates than those that don’t receive similar support.

3. SBA Local Offices

Another in-community go-to resource for business counseling, training and loan information is your local SBA office. These offices oversee the delivery of SBA’s programs, including loans, nationwide. You can also locate your office on Twitter and Facebook here.

Additional Resources

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

How to Change Your Business Name – Legal and Regulatory Steps Explained

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: February 29, 2012 Updated: December 29, 2017

Changing a business name is a costly and disruptive process, especially for established businesses. You can’t just start calling it something different. Print and online marketing materials and bank accounts will have to change, websites adjusted, domain names registered, email addresses updated, and so on. 

This is all assuming your chosen new name is even available!

So before you take the leap, familiarize yourself with these steps. Most of them are required by law, but others are simply good business practice.

Check Trademarks

Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. Before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked.

Check Available Domain Names

Before you do anything to change your business name, be sure you can claim it online. You can do this with a simple web search, but you should also check whether a complementary domain name (or web address) is available. You can use the WHOIS database of domain names.  If the name you want is available, claim it right away. This guide explains how to register a domain name.

Notify Your Secretary of State

All business types, except sole proprietors, should first notify their Secretary of State to change names in their articles of incorporation.  States will have online forms for this, and usually charge a small fee. During this process, you’ll find out whether your new name is already in use in your state by another corporation or partnership. You can do this via online state databases of registered business names and fictitious names.

File a New “Doing Business As” Name

If you previously filed a “Doing Business As” Name, or DBA, with your local government, you’ll need to repeat this process with your new name. Read more from SBA.gov about the DBA registration process and get links to your state government office.

Revise Business Licenses and Permits

Check with your state, county or city to determine the process involved in updating or obtaining new business licenses and permits. There is typically a fee for this process.

Let the Tax Authorities Know

The IRS and your state and local revenue agencies will need to be notified of any change of business name. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Notify the IRS – Depending on your type of business, follow the process below:

  • Sole Proprietors – Send a signed letter notifying the IRS of the business name change to the same address where you file your return.
  • Partnerships – Notify the IRS on your current year partnership income tax return (Form 1065). If you’ve already filed your return for the current tax year, you’ll need to write to the IRS at the filing address.
  • Corporations – Notify the IRS on your current year corporation income tax return (Form 1120). If you have already filed, write to the IRS notifying them of the name change at your regular filing address.
  • LLCs – If you are a single-member LLC, follow the same process as sole proprietors. For multi-member LLCs, follow the partnership process. Read more about this process on the IRS’ Business Name Change page. 

2. Notify State and Local Revenue Agencies - Requirements for notifying your state vary; locate your state revenue agency via these links from SBA.gov: State tax Resources.

You May Need a New EIN

Generally, sole proprietors, corporations, and partnerships don’t need a new Employer Identification Number (EIN) if they change their business name. However, there are certain situations where these entities may need to obtain a new EIN, like if a partnership incorporates or one partner takes over as a sole proprietor. Likewise, if a sole proprietor incorporates or takes on a partnership, a new EIN is needed. This easy-to-read guide from the IRS – Do You Need a New EIN – explains under what circumstances a business needs to obtain a new EIN.

Update Business Documents, Contracts and Agreements

In addition to updating your marketing material, developing a plan to notify customers and building your new brand, you should also revisit and update business loan paperwork, lease documents, bank accounts, etc., that will all need to reflect your name change.

Related Article

 

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

5 Things Every Manager Should Know About Financial Forecasts

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: January 26, 2012 Updated: May 17, 2012

If you think it’s hard to do business forecasts – and lots of people do – what I can tell you is that it’s a whole easier to forecast than it is to run a business without any forecasts.

So, with that in mind, here are five things that every manager should know about financial forecasts.

1.    Forecasts are for business, not truth, or beauty.

The business value of financial forecasts is about making good decisions. The forecast helps you anticipate business trends, allocate your spending right, and manage the flow of money.

The best forecast is one that helped you run the business by setting useful expectations and guiding the way to cash in the bank, business growth, and profitability (in that order).

What’s most important isn’t what you’d think: it’s not as much about guessing the future correctly as it is about setting up the connections between sales levels, costs, expenses, and cash flow. The forecast won’t be right – we’re humans, guessing the future, so they never are – but if it identifies the key drivers so you can watch plan vs. actual and fine-tune your budgets, then it’s vital to business health.

To test the value of a forecast, tracking the plan vs. actual results is obviously vital. But look deeper than the top line. Did the forecast give you a way to identify where assumptions change? For example, did you see how prices ended up lower or higher than what you thought? Or conversions on the web? Did the forecast give you a way to drill down into the management assumptions?

2.    Forecasts don’t take an MBA, CPA, or PhD.

In the 30 or so years I’ve been doing business forecasts, 98 percent of the good forecasts I’ve seen were based on smart people, who know their business, making educated guesses.  The sophisticated mathematical models don’t beat knowing the business and making reasonable estimates. That’s especially true for businesses that have past history so they can use that as a starting point. 

The most common problem in this area is the amazingly common assumption that if you don’t have the right training you can’t forecast. So what, you have to be a meteorologist to guess the weather? You can also look at the sky, the season of the year, and past patterns – with or without the degree. It’s not econometric modeling or thesis-level research. It’s a collection of interrelated educated guesses. 

3.    Forecasts get old and rot faster than pumpkins.  

Real forecasts aren’t supposed to last longer than a month or so. Well-managed companies run the forecast against plan vs. actual analysis after the close of each month, and there are always changes to be made. That forecast you did last summer? If you haven’t touched it since then, it means you’re not using forecasting to help you manage the business.

4.    Forecasts are really about lines, not dots.

I first saw the “lines not dots” phrase from Mark Suster, on his bothsidesofthetable.com blog. A line is change over time, tracked, so you can see the significance. For example, your sales next month mean virtually nothing until you compare them to last month and the same month last year, and to your plan and budget. Your forecast sets the base lines so you can track all those surprises, and make adjustments to correct things as assumptions change. Having the equivalent of two months’ worth of sales in your accounts receivable balance doesn’t mean anything until you figure out whether that’s more or less than it used to be, and why the change occurred.

5.    Forecasts are for planning, not accounting.

It’s a natural confusion. Forecasts are normally set up to look almost exactly like accounting statements, so it seems the same. But the difference between planning and accounting is a complete different dimension: accounting starts today and goes backward in time in ever increasing detail, while planning starts today and goes forward in time in ever increasing summary and aggregation.

The good news is that it’s easier to do when you understand it’s a collection of educated guesses and simplifying assumptions. For example, you don’t have to guess what assets you’ll need in 2014 to guess that you’re going to spend some estimated amount of money to buy them all. And you don’t have to know what all those assets will be to guess how much money you’ll be able to take, two years from now, in depreciation.

The key is simplifying assumptions. A forecast has only a few of the most important items, not all the detail in every line. It aggregates and summarizes. 

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 46 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including his latest, 'Lean Business Planning,' 2015, Motivational Press. Contents of that book are available for web browsing free at leanplan.com .

How to Choose, Claim, and Protect Your Business Name – Online and Offline

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: January 18, 2012 Updated: September 21, 2016

So you’re starting a business, but what are you going to call it?

Choosing a business name is an important step in the business planning process. Not only should you pick a name that reflects your brand identity, but you also need to ensure it’s properly registered and protected for the long term, and give a thought to whether it’s web-ready. Is the domain name even available? 

So where do you start? Here are some tips to help you pick, register, and protect your business name – online and offline.

Pick a Name That Reflects Your Business Plan

Many businesses start out as freelancers, solo operations, or partnerships. In these cases, it’s easy to fall back on your own name as your business name. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it does make it tougher to present a professional image, build brand awareness, and connect your supply with your target market’s demand.

Here are some points to consider as you choose a name:

  • How will your name look? – On the web, as part of a logo, on social media (remember: Twitter limits character count, so try not to pick a name that’s too long).
  • What connotations does it evoke? – This is very important. Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
  • Is it unique? – Pick a name that hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search (more on this below) will alert you to any existing use.

Check for Trademarks

Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. Before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked.

Pick a Name That is Web-Ready

In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. It should also be rich in key words that reflect what your business does. This is why naming your business after yourself often just doesn’t cut it. Consider these two examples:  http://www.virginiabeachrentals.com/ has a lot more clout than http://www.jdoebeachrentals.com/. It also has the right combination of key words to ensure it rises to the top in online searches.

To find out if your business name has been claimed online, do a simple web search to see if anyone is already using that name.

You’ll also need to check whether a domain name (or web address) is available. You can do this using the WHOIS database of domain names.  If it is available, be sure to claim it right away. This guide explains how to register a domain name.

Claim Your Social Media Identity

It’s a good idea to claim a Twitter name early in the naming process. A name for your Facebook page can be set up and changed, but you can only claim a vanity URL or custom URL once you’ve got 25 fans or “likes.” This custom URL name must be unique, or un-claimed. Be warned, once set up, the URL can’t be changed. Ask your friends to become fans of your page, even if it’s only a shell at the start, so you can secure your custom URL sooner rather than later.

Register Your New Business Name

Registering a business name is a confusing area for new business owners. What does it mean and what are you required to do?

Registering your business name involves a process known as registering a “Doing Business As (DBA)” name or trade name. This process shouldn’t be confused with incorporation and it doesn’t provide trademark protection. Registering your “Doing Business As” name is simply the process of letting your state government know that you are doing business as a name other than your personal name or the legal name of your partnership or corporation. If you are operating under your own name, then you can skip the process.

Learn about the requirements in your state and how to file in SBA’s Registering Your Doing Business As Name guide.

Apply for Trademark Protection

A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. Your name is one of your most valuable business assets, so it’s worth protecting. You can file for a trademark for less than $300. 

Related Article

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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