If my name is John Smith, can I operate my sole proprietorship as Smith Programming, or will I need to file a DBA?
2 Answers from Attorneys
A business name containing the surname of the proprietor and something indicating the nature of the business is not fictitious, and does not need to be filed. "Smith Programming" fills the bill if your surname is Smith and you do primarily programming. Still, I'd advise that in formal documents like leases and contracts, and maybe on your letterhead or business card, you might add in fine print, "John Smith, proprietor." In the case of partnerships, all the names need to appear, for example, Smith & Jones Plumbing is OK but Smith & Sons Plumbing is NOT OK because the names of the implied partners (the sons) aren't stated.
DBA is required unless you are using only your individual legal name. Anyone doing business would be well advised to operate only as a corporation, for reasons of personal liability and asset protection. If serious about getting legal help accomplishing that, feel free to contact me.
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