When many residential inspectors start their business, they include the words “home inspection” in their business name. Although this has many benefits for an inspector who offers services only for residential properties, it has many disadvantages for an inspector who also performs commercial inspections.

In the course of conducting business, especially if you’re expanding the scope of your services, the original name of your business may limit your ability to gain new clients. In that case, it may be useful to file a “doing business as” name, or DBA.

Your business name is the first impression customers get of your company. If you’re interested in expanding the scope of your home inspection company to include services for commercial properties, it may be useful to file a DBA. The DBA is a trade name for your business that can function as your business’s operating name for advertising and sales purposes. The trade name is the name the public sees, such as in your marketing materials and on your website, but it’s filed under your legal business name. A DBA can also be used to open bank accounts, enter into contracts, write checks, and accept payments.

In some rare instances, a DBA can be filed with the city or county, but in most cases, it must be filed with the Secretary of State’s office. You can find a complete list of state-by-state requirements at: http://dbafilingonline.com/dba-by-state/.

Canadian DBAs can be filed with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Outside of administrative issues, there are few drawbacks to choosing a trade name, if you feel your current name is holding you back. It is, however, important to consider name selection when making a change. If there’s a possibility that you’ll expand your services again in the future, make sure to choose a name that will encompass future changes.

Registering a DBA for your business can improve your visibility for marketing purposes, credibility among consumers, and online presence for searches and SEO.