Can an LLC have a DBA or "doing business as" name? Yes, sometimes the legal name for an LLC is not the name an owner wants to use, so they may use a DBA instead. 

What Is LLC?

An LLC or (limited liability company) is a business entity type formed under state regulations. LLCs protect their owners or members from liabilities, financial and legal.

Business owners can choose an LLC as the structure for their business in order to avoid business taxes and liability for any company debts or losses. LLCs can offer these benefits, but the owner might not want to use the company name that is used for tax filing.

All LLCs have to register with the Secretary of State and must list their owners or members whether there be one or several.

Benefits of an LLC

LLCs offer many benefits including:

  • Recognition as a separate legal entity.
  • A legal name for business administration.
  • Liability protection for members.
  • Easy business expansion and selling.
  • Ease when searching for funds.

What Is a DBA?

DBA stands for "doing business as" and it's a sort of nickname or trade name for a business. 

A DBA is a legal declaration that a company is conducting business operations under a different name from the LLC name

Certain states do not allow two different businesses to declare the same DBA. A DBA must be filed with the state. 

Benefits of a DBA

DBAs don't stand as separate business entities from their companies, and they make sure the person who registered under the DBA retains any liability.

DBAs can help individuals perform their business with a different name from an LLC. If a restaurant owner wants to also offer personal chefs services, they can assume a DBA for their personal chef ventures while still working under their main company. Website owners can use DBAs in order to legally be able to conduct business using their domain name. 

Major Distinctions Between DBA vs. LLC

Individuals can create a new LLC for a different business venture they wish to pursue, but registering a DBA is much simpler and costs less. DBAs only require a fee for registration and another for renewal (usually required every five years).

LLCs require more document filing and state tax payments.

If the owner of a sole proprietorship or a freelancer doesn't want to go through the trouble of incorporating, they might choose to conduct business under a DBA to promote their brand name. DBAs don't require any bylaws, agreements, documents of formation, or any other complex formalities.

A possible disadvantage of a DBA is the lack of liability protection that's provided with an LLC.

There is a lot to keep in mind when deciding whether to form an LLC or simply use a DBA. It's always a good idea to consult a lawyer when making these types of decisions.

How To Set Up and Structure Multiple Businesses

Owners of small businesses, freelancers, and entrepreneurs all can conduct business in many different forms. A gym owner might also work as a personal trainer and have a dog walking business on the weekends.

Anyone who runs multiple businesses might question how best to form their different services and ventures into some kind of entity. They could consider forming a corporation to include all the ventures, or form each one into an LLC. 

When considering this question of structuring, business owners needs to think of marketing and legal issues. 

Marketing questions to consider:

  • What is my target market?
  • Do all of my ventures reach the same type of market?
  • Do my ventures relate to one another?
  • Will they draw the same type of customers?

If you find that you business ventures do seem to fall into the same category, you might want to consider enveloping them all together under one business structure. If they appeal to different markets, you can think about keeping them separate or using DBAs for some.

Business owners can structure their businesses in three different ways:

  • Make each venture a separate business entity (corp or LLC).
  • Form only one entity and use DBAs for the different ventures.
  • Form a parent company and then split the ventures into subsidiaries.

If you need help with running an LLC under a DBA, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.