Starting a Small Business/DBA


QUESTION: Dear David Staub,

Hello and I hope all is well with you. Here is my question, If I create a business name, and I say by my real name, Do I still need to file a DBA with the County Clerk's office? For example, if the name is "Royal Shirt Factory" by William Johnson, and I publicly, and always include a real name, Do I need to file a DBA? Also, if I am sent a money order addressed to "William Johnson c/o Royal Shirt Factory, Would I have any trouble cashing it here in the USA if Royal Shirt Factory is an unregistered name? I will await your reply. Thank you.



ANSWER: Generally, if the business includes your full name, you are not doing business under an assumed name.  So if the name were William Johnson's Shirt Store, you would not need a DBA.  The purpose of the assumed name acts are to make sure people know who they are dealing with.  Your example is somewhat different and may be in a gray area, but since it still contains your full name, I don't think it is likely that someone would press the issue.

Generally, a bank would allow you to deposit a check made out to "William Johnson c/o Royal Shirt Factory" since your name is on the check.  However, you run the risk that people would make the checks out only to "Royal Shirt Factory" and with some banks that would be more of a problem.

You might want to solve all the problems by simply forming a business entity such as a corporation or LLC.  Even if you don't, the safe bet would be to go ahead and register as a DBA.  Of course, that is a little more expensive in NY state than in many places because of the specific legal publication requirements in NY.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Ha.... Dear David,

Thank you for your reply. You hit the mark right on the nose. The problem is I live in New York City, and right now I can't spare the cash (That's the whole point of coming up with the Sole Proprietorship idea>>>To make money I don't have. I bought a domain and I would love to publicize my website now, but I'm encountering so many issues, so I have not published my website yet. I had to remove tons of images I downloaded from online, due to copyright infringement fears (Even so-called free copyright images cost additional money to use). I used to do some Graphic Art work, so I'm going to try and use my own watermarked images (But that takes so much time). In the mean time, now I'm learning NYC would want more money, because of self-hauling laws to dispose of my own waste??? Where I live the building management takes care of that. I feel this is a scam to get more money outta residents.

Anyway, David I have 4 questions... 1) Should I wait until my entire website is ready to publish before applying for an EIN number? 2) Should I wait for my entire website is ready to be published before applying for a NYS business permit? Should I wait for my entire website is ready before applying for a NYS Sales Tax Certificate of Authority? Also, When I apply for the EIN number I believe one of the questions ask, When did I first go into business? Does this mean I have to sell something first before applying for the EIN number? Or should I use the date of conception, and apply regardless of that question? Thanks a bunch for your last response, and I will wait for your reply. Thank you.




First, let me say that I'm not familiar with the specific requirements of New York state or New York City, so this is a more general answer.

1) If you are a sole proprietorship and have no employees, you do not need an EIN. Some people prefer to have one for their business to avoid using their Social Security number, but it is an option not a requirement. For that reason alone, I certainly would not bother to apply for an EIN until absolutely needed.

2) As I mentioned, I don't know the specific requirements of NYS, but typically a website developer who is building his own website would not be considered to be "doing business" untiil he actually launches the website and has customers.

3) You do not have to have customers or even a going business before applying for an EIN. For our clients planning to launch a business, we typically apply for the EIN the same day we get official confirmation from the state that the LLC or corporation has been formed.  


Starting a Small Business

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David K. Staub


I am a business and tax attorney and have spent more than 35 years assisting people in starting a wide variety of businesses. I can answer questions about the basic differences between the various entities available to new businesses, including limited liability companies, corporations, S corporations and partnerships. I can provide guidance in other areas facing start ups, such as hiring employees, signing contracts and obtaining necessary licenses. I can also direct people to sources for answers to specific legal questions which cannot be answered in a forum of this nature.


I have an extensive practice in the mergers and acquisitions area and have been involved in the tax and legal issues on hundreds of business transactions.

Staub Anderson LLC
Illinois business attorneys

Practice Areas
Business Organizations


-Joint ventures
Mergers & Acquisitions
-Buying/selling business
Securities Law
Tax Law
Technology Law
-Software licenses
-Development agreements


Illinois State Bar Association; Chicago Bar Association (former Chairman of the Corporation & Business Law Committee and former Chairman of the Mergers and Acquisitions Subcommittee; former Executive Committee member, Federal Tax Committee and Chairman of subcommittee on general tax issues); Keystone Foundation (Trustee); Association for Corporate Growth; Midwest Entrepreneur Forum; Midwest Association of Alpha Delta Phi

Commerce Magazine; YLS Journal; ISBA Section of Taxation Newsletter

Harvard Law School, J.D., 1977; University of Illinois, B.S. in Accounting, with highest honors, 1974

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