DBA stands for "doing business as" and designates the name under which your corporation is known. DBAs are required to open a business account with a bank, so even a small business should obtain one. If you have branches of your business that serve different functions, registering as a DBA allows helps avoid confusion among your customers. Obtaining a DBA name is a simple and relatively fast process.

Determine what name you would like to do business under. Think of something catchy and descriptive of your business, but unique. You will not be able to register the same name as another business in your area, so you should consider having several names available when you begin this process.

Contact the secretary of state's department in the state in which you are doing business. In some cases, the DBA process is handled on a county level, but whether the process goes through the secretary of state or the county, the secretary of state's website can direct you to the correct location.

Run a search of the name you want to use for your DBA. In many cases, this can be done online through the secretary of state's website. In other cases, you will have to contact the secretary of state's office or the county office by phone or letter, or go there in person to run the search. If no one else is using that name, you can go ahead and file the DBA for that name.

Obtain the DBA application form and fill it out completely. If you have an incorporated business, you will have to produce the articles of incorporation. You will need at a minimum the address at which you will operate your business and the business owner's name and signature.

Submit the form to the appropriate office along with the fee -- which will vary by locality -- and wait for approval. Once you have received the approved form, you can begin using the DBA for your business.