List of business entities Forms of business ownership vary by jurisdictionbut several common entities exist: A sole proprietorshipalso known as a sole trader, is owned by one person and operates for their benefit.
The owner operates the business alone and may hire employees. A sole proprietor has unlimited liability for all obligations incurred by the business, whether from operating costs or judgments against the business. All assets of the business belong to a sole proprietor, including, for example, computer infrastructure, any inventorymanufacturing equipment, or retail fixturesas well as any real property owned by the sole proprietor.
A partnership is a business owned by two or more people. In most forms of partnerships, each partner has unlimited liability for the debts incurred by the business. The three most prevalent types of for-profit partnerships are: The owners of a corporation have limited liability and the business has a separate legal personality from its owners.
Corporations can be either government-owned or privately owned. They can organize either for profit or as nonprofit organizations. A privately owned, for-profit corporation is owned by its shareholderswho elect a board of directors to direct the corporation and hire its managerial staff.
A privately owned, for-profit corporation can be either privately held by a small group of individuals, or publicly heldwith publicly traded shares listed on a stock exchange. Often referred to as a "co-op", a cooperative is a limited-liability business that can organize as for-profit or not-for-profit.
A cooperative differs from a corporation in that it has members, not shareholders, and they share decision-making authority.
Cooperatives are typically classified as either consumer cooperatives or worker cooperatives. Cooperatives are fundamental to the ideology of economic democracy.
Limited liability companies LLClimited liability partnerships, and other specific types of business organization protect their owners or shareholders from business failure by doing business under a separate legal entity with certain legal protections.
In contrast, unincorporated businesses or persons working on their own are usually not as protected. A franchise is a system in which entrepreneurs purchase the rights to open and run a business from a larger corporation. One out of twelve retail businesses in the United States are franchised and 8 million people are employed in a franchised business.
Commonly used where companies are formed for noncommercial purposes, such as clubs or charities. The members guarantee the payment of certain usually nominal amounts if the company goes into insolvent liquidationbut otherwise, they have no economic rights in relation to the company.
This type of company is common in England. A company limited by guarantee may be with or without having share capital. A company limited by shares: The most common form of the company used for business ventures. Specifically, a limited company is a "company in which the liability of each shareholder is limited to the amount individually invested" with corporations being "the most common example of a limited company.
A company limited by shares may be a privately held company A company limited by guarantee with a share capital: A hybrid entity, usually used where the company is formed for noncommercial purposes, but the activities of the company are partly funded by investors who expect a return.
This type of company may no longer be formed in the UK, although provisions still exist in law for them to exist. Like a corporation, it has limited liability for members of the company, and like a partnership it has "flow-through taxation to the members" and must be "dissolved upon the death or bankruptcy of a member".Contact the Small Business Advocate for help navigating the rules and regulations of state and local government.
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