“I am a portrait photographer who specializes in children and babies but I want to add a new brand for boudoir. How can I do this? Do I need to set up another DBA with the state under my current company?”
What is a DBA and why would I need it?
Let’s start off first with explaining what a DBA (doing business as) does.
DBA means “doing business as” but can also be interchanged with the terms “trade name,” “assumed name”, and “fictitious business name”.
These are the registration of the name that you are using for your business.
If you are going to operate with a business formation of Sole Proprietor in your state versus an Limited Liability Company or Corporation (if you don’t know the difference I recommend you check out some online resources or enroll in BizRevamp for individualized photography business help with this!) and operating under a different name than your legal name.
As always check with local state laws – sometimes even having the word “photography” at the end of your legal name necessitates the need for a DBA or other substitute filing.
What if I want to start a new specialization?
This depends if you’re intending to operate under a totally new business name or simply an extension of your business. It is important to consider your actions and the circumstances surrounding how the program or separation of the specialization is set up and viewed.
Completely New Business
If you are going to take steps to completely set up a new site, name, social media, etc. and it looks like a completely separate business then you do need to make sure you’re registered under this name. A good way to look at it is to ask yourself “Would a client question if this brand is part of my existing business or is a separate business?”
Operating as a Program
An option would be have a “program” name for your business but have it attached to your business name. Take for example you’re Jane Smith Photography but that is known for the babies and children photography. You could do “Secret Moments by Jane Smith Photography” as a program without having to be a separate business entity since a reasonable person would see the business name attached.
What if I can’t afford the DBA fee?
You can’t afford not to afford the fee. Most states a DBA is free or relatively cheap – there is no excuse. Consider the consequences, in most states if you put yourself out like you’re a business then you will be treated as such (including applicable laws). Some states can fine up to $500 per day day that you put yourself out as a business but are not registered as such. Worth it? No way!
If you think you can’t afford to protect your business, you can’t afford not to.
There is no easy clear-cut answer in law, as you can see. It is always best to decide how far you want this brand to be separated from your current business name and set up, then follow up with local governing authorities to make sure you’re compliant with the law.
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