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Businesses with multiple owners typically write out explicit guidelines regarding investment and management issues using one of several types of legal agreements designed specifically for business organizations. Thus, one of the first decisions facing new business owners is deciding what legal entity to use for their business. That decision-making process typically weighs the following issues:

  1. how much time or involvement in the business is required
  2. what skills are required
  3. degree of risk associated with the business
  4. amount of capital needed
  5. tax regulations on labor and income earned by the business

In the United States, there are four basic types of business operations:

  1. Sole proprietorships

    A sole proprietorship is an individual owner of a business (with or without employees). This type of operation is the simplest to form, and the single owner, or sole proprietor, may work as much or as little time as desired. The sole proprietor is generally held accountable for all products and/or services produced by the business, as well as debts and liabilities of the business. Since the owner’s personal liability extends well beyond amounts invested in the business or even beyond assets purchased by the business, this type of operation is considered high risk.

    The amount of capital required to start a sole proprietorship is generally minimal.

    In addition to sole ownership of all assets and liabilities, the proprietor benefits by receiving all profits, which in the United States are taxed as part of the owner’s total personal income. The sole proprietor may employ workers or engage independent contractors to increase skills available, but the business ceases to exist upon the owner’s death.

    A sole proprietor business can be organized at any time into a different legal entity. The owner often decides to reorganize when profits substantially increase the individual's tax liability.

  2. Partnership

    When two or more family members or people join together in a business operation, they may choose to establish a partnership which can take the form of a general or limited liability partnership. General partnerships are similar to the combination of a group of sole proprietorships in that the partners share workloads, profits, and liabilities. Limited Liability Partnerships, however, usually include one or more partners who manage daily operations and are generally liable for the debts of the business while other limited partners risk their investment in anticipation of profits.

    Initial agreement is essential concerning how the partnership will operate, who will manage daily operations, how profits will be disbursed, and who assumes liabilities and debts. Such an agreement is normally formalized in writing and is known as a “Partnership Agreement”.

    Partnerships, like sole proprietorships, are generally dissolved upon the death of a partner. Profits are shared in accordance with terms of the Partnership Agreement and reported to taxing authorities on personal tax returns of the partners.

  3. Corporations

    In the United States, corporations are considered separate legal entities that are chartered and regulated by an authority in each state, such as the Secretary of State. Additionally, a separate agent who acts on behalf of the corporate entity is identified in the initial application process to receive legal notifications. Corporations must also submit identification and governing documents such as Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws. Corporate entities are generally required to be kept in active status through annual updates to a regulatory authority. As a result, this type of entity is deemed slightly more complex to form and manage.

    Corporations require investment by one of more owners who are known as “shareholders” or “stockholders”, and the amount of investment varies depending on the needs of the business. Since this form of entity provides protection (widely known as the “corporate veil”) for the personal assets of owners against certain types of claims, it is generally of lower risk. Corporate entities may vary in numbers of owners from a single shareholder to an unlimited number. States and federal agencies regulate financial activities and reporting requirements that are categorized by the number of shareholders and whether their shares are available to purchase and sell on public stock exchanges. For example, US corporations with publicly traded shares are regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The corporation may employ workers and engage independent contractors as needed to increase skills available. Corporations are required, however, to acknowledge formally (in a written document) the individuals who are approved to engage in financial transactions on behalf of the entity.

    In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service regulates federal tax codes. There are two taxing options for earnings of corporations: a progressive structure on profits for the traditional corporation and another that allows owners to “flow-through” profits to their personal tax returns.

  4. The Limited Liability Company (LLC)

    In the United States, the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the entity of choice for the owner or owners who prefer the limited liability afforded by a corporation and a tax treatment that allows profits to flow from the business to the owner or owners. The LLC must also be registered with a State authority, but requires less documented structure. Ownership is acknowledged by percentage as opposed to number of shares and protection for the owners is similar to that of a corporation.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
what is business plan
Sthembiso Reply
how to startup business
Mahesh Reply
A canal is more of a need then a cavity
Commander Reply
what is electronic banking
Segun Reply
what does it mean business eco system?
Mohammed Reply
what is business
Abdul Reply
how can i know my business best resources, cheap and good quality
cabdi Reply
vikash rawat
jagvir Reply
entrepreneurial mobility
Manish Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Business fundamentals. OpenStax CNX. Oct 08, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11227/1.4
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