fictitious business names

In the paper this morning, someone sent in a question to the business Q&A asking what steps one needs to take to start a small business.

The columninst gave the usual advice as far as accounting, taxes, lisences, etc…go. But then she stated:

“Next, you will have to file a fictitious name statement to let people know you are doing business under another name. Usually, you must advertise your fictitious business name in a legal or daily newspaper in your community for three weeks.”

What is meant by the term “fictitious” here?

I mean, if they are just referring to your business name, why designate it as fictitious (twice)? If I decide to start Divemaster, Inc. I would consider that my actual business name, not a fictitious business name. The same would go for Not-Divemaster, Inc.

The other question may be more suited for Great Debates, but here goes: Why does the the government feel it is necessary to dictate your advertising strategy? If I don’t want to spend the $$ on a 3-week ad, I shouldn’t be forced too, right?

I’m in a hurry, so this will be short. If you incorporate, you can use that name without further assumed name filings. If your corporation uses a different name, you must file. If you are not incorporated (are a sole proprietorship) and are using ANY name other than your own personal name, you must file.

I think what’s referred to in the OP is the same thing that’s sometimes called an assumed name. I have a corporation that started another endeavor this year, and that caled for use of another name that identified what we are doing. While there’s no advertising requirement, I did file a dba with the county clerk and the Secretary of State. A dba (doing business as) identifies my corporation as the entity with that name. I, too, must run right now - hope it helps.

I don’t have to go anywhere. I just wanted to pop in and say that Random and beatle got it exactly right. So if you decided to call your store Divemaster*, but you also decided to call the company that owned the store Your Name Holdings, Inc., you’d file a statement saying that, and much of your correspondance and legal filings would say stuff like Your Name Holdings, Inc., dba "Divemaster


Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

One mistake made that whole thing unreadable. I’ll try again. Sorry.

If you decided to call your store Divemaster, but you also decided to call the company that owned the store Your Name Holdings, Inc., you’d file a statement saying that, and much of your correspondance and legal filings would say stuff like Your Name Holdings, Inc., dba "Divemaster"

the govt. isn’t dictating your advertising strategy.It is legal public notice so that I, mr john q public, (as opposed to the govt.agency) know who i am doing business as. Legal notices are printed at reduced rates by “papers of record” which the relative govenment accepts.As to why the govt feels I need to know this I don’t know.Your ad would prob. just have to say " YOUR NAME HERE HOLDINGS,INC.,dba “DIVEMISTRESS” as of 1/1/20
Didn’t wanta encroach on man’s name, and my ad strtegy is gonna be way more interesing than man’s. AH HA! that is one reason for the public notice.In the highly unlikely event the govt don’t catch the already registered name.


“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

If you call your store Divemaster, and there is another store already registered as that, you’re in for a surprise.

Thats one reason why you must put ad in paper, so anyone else with the same name can tell you that you can’t use it.

Dunno what happened to those folks with a store called Amazon when amazon.com tried to file. I think its still happening.

The notice is also so the public is (at least capable of being aware of) who they are doing business with.

Suppose Walter’s Widgets has been screwing customers left and right and suddenly decides to start calling itself Dave’s Dodads (to avoid their reputation). The notice lets everyone know that Dave is really Walter.


“Drink your coffee! Remember, there are people sleeping in China.”

Dennis Matheson — dennis@mountaindiver.com
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb — www.mountaindiver.com

It all depends on locality and what you have in mind.

In New York, you can name your business whatever you want. However, if you want to have a bank account in that business name, you must fill out a DBA (“Doing Business As”) form. You need to search to see if there’s another use of that particular name in your county (when I did it, they had me search through the records for about ten years – not hard, since they’re listed alphabetically. I told them “no,” though I doubt they checked. I suspect they just wait to see if someone complains.) and pay the fee.

You don’t need to incorporate to run a business, and it’s usually not suggested unless you’re doing a certain minimum business.

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction. www.sff.net/people/rothman

This also depends (at least in my state of Indiana) on what level of business you’re talking about. Single-owner businesses and partnerships don’t even have to register their existence with the state (which is great for self-employed folks like myself). However, LLCs and Corporations have all sorts of requirements to fulfill.

Arken, I think that you are confusing two concepts. The OP was, I believe, asking about assumed name requirements, not incorporation. You are right when you say that a buness need not incorporate if it is happy with the sole proprietorship or general partnership form of ownership. That doesn’t excuse you from following the assumed name laws, though.

Most (and probably all) states have some form of statute which requires businesses to file and/or publish assumed business names. I would be very surprised if Indiana did not have such a statute. Illinois (where I practice) has two. as others have already noted, these statutes are designed to protect the public.

Failure to follow these laws (and it is true that lots of small businesses ignore them) can have serious consequences. In Illinois, a corporation which uses an assumed name and fails to register it can lose the main benefit of incorporation, the protection of the owners’ personal assets.

So if your name is Bob Arken, and you open a shop, you can call it Bob Arken’s General Store and legally file nothing. If you want to call it Bob’s Lo-Cost Foods, though, you must register that name. If you do, you avoid whatever penalties there are in your state for failure to follow that particular law. You’re still a sole proprietorship, though, which has its own drawbacks. You’re personally on the hook it the shop goes under, or if someone slips on a lettuce leaf in your produce department.

I’m with Arken on this. I also live in Indiana, have owned my own business for 20 years, pay all required taxes, etc. and have my taxes prepared by a CPA.

This is the first time I’ve ever even heard of such a thing. I’m sure that I would have been told by now if something like this was required here.

By the way, my business name does not contain my own name.

The Indiana Code Section 23-15-1 is labelled “Assumed Business Names” and provides in part: “a person or conducting or transacting business in Indiana under a name, designation, or title other than the real name of the person transacting or conducting such business … shall file for record, in the office of the {county recorder}… a certificate stating the assumed name to be used and … the full name and address of the person engagaed in or transacting business…”

I guess maybe you shouldn’t have been relying on your CPA for legal advice all those years. (I’m sorry if that sounds snotty, but I hate hearing people disagree with professionals in their areas of competence by citing contrary advice from acquaintences. It’s like disagreeing with a physician beacuse your auto mechanic gave said something different. CPAs (and auto mechanics) can be fine, competetent people in their own areas, but it’s stupid to rely on them in other disciplines.) Find yourself an Indiana attorney who can give you legal advice, and have the CPA stick to doing your books.

Damn. Delete “gave” in fourth to the last line of the above response. (And I do know how to spell the word because.)