Filing for a DBA in Florida is as necessary as securing your business name. This includes LLCs and corporations, no matter how big or how small. However, grabbing a DBA is usually a pretty easy process. The only requirement is to have a registered agent in Florida.
What is a DBA?
A DBA is an alias or a secondary title for your business. "Doing Business As", or a DBA, is best realized in a visualization. Perhaps Cassandra spends her time making iron statues for yard decorations. She decides to monetize this and becomes an LLC to protect herself in case someone trips and gets hurt on the, admittedly, sharp edges of her artwork.
As well as being "Cassandra's Smithworks", her logo states she is "Best Ironwork in Ocala". Since this is a recognizable part of her business name and branding, she must not only file her LLC articles but a DBA for this part of her business name, too. Yes, even if this isn't a sub-section of her business.
How do I File?
First, you must search the Fictitious Name database. Upon discovering if the name is available, you may move on to the next step. We strongly recommend that you search for multiple names, all very close to those that you desire to use. If possible, file for more than one. To continue with our above example, it prevents from Kelly's Ironworks from becoming "Best Ironworkers in Ocala". This can not only ruin your SEO for online searches, but make it very difficult for trademarks, patents, and so forth.
Once you have a DBA that will serve your needs, it's time to file for it. There is no charge to file a DBA in Florida as of this writing, but we do recommend checking to assure that is still the case when you move forward with your own plans. Simply go ahead and submit your information so it can be cleared by the State of Florida.
Are Nicknames DBAs?
Nicknames, awards, and taglines don't really count as DBAs, though you are welcome to register them if they are not relatively generic. A DBA is more of a secondary name or a common name that the business is operating through. For instance, if Cassandra is only operating under "Cassandra's Smithworks" and never uses "Best Ironwork in Ocala" as a stand-in for her business name or a synonym for her business name, she need not DBA it.
However, she may still want to. As mentioned above with Kelly's Ironworks, someone else could swoop in and work toward pushing you out of the same business by simply running a name very similar to yours.
If you do desire to DBA the above, we suggest placing a DBA on everything similar so much as you can claim rights to; as well as what the State of Florida will allow you to do. If you were not the top restaurant in Tallahassee for steak in 2016, don't try to take that away from someone else because you won the award in 2015.
Additionally, some local laws may also prevent you from placing a DBA on awards. Check with the provider of the award to see if you can put a permanent claim, such as a DBA, on their award.
A DBA is not necessary to run a business and it may be a waste of time to try to come up with one. Yes, you should always protect your business branding but it is impossible to assume every take on your business name and DBA them.
However, if you absolutely intend to use a DBA or your LLC is covering many smaller businesses, you can pin down DBAs prior to opening your doors. A good example of this may be creating an LLC to cover several small food trucks and each having a different type of cuisine or name attached to them. In this case you should absolutely create your LLC and cover each food truck name with a DBA. Note, only the parent LLC needs a registered agent, each Doing Business As application attached to the company does not.
In closing, DBAs can be very useful if needed in the general course of business. However, you need not try to cover every possible iteration of your business's name with a DBA just to cover your business's branding. We recommend that you spend time gathering information about local businesses with names close to yours to see if there is a great deal of crossover. If there is, you may wish to consider other names for your business at that point.