Forms of Business Organization
Western Governors University
The study of business organization is a study of complexity: as each business is different, each form of business organization is also unique. From a local hot-dog vendor to a trucking company, from a restaurant to a multinational, each business has different legal, moral and ethical concerns, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to determine how a business should best be organized. Take the first two businesses, the hot-dog vendor and the trucking company, as an example: assume that each business is operated by a single individual. While one may argue that the proper form of organization for each would be a sole proprietorship, that would not be the case: the hot-dog vendor could clearly be operated as a sole proprietorship, but not the trucking company. Because of the nature of the trucking business, limiting the liability of the principals is vital: thus, the best form of organization for the trucking company would most likely be an LLC (limited liability company). There are six main forms of business organization, and each has very distinct advantages and disadvantages: some work best for small enterprises, some are better when outside vendors are involved, some are more suitable for larger companies... indeed, there are many variables to consider when determining the organization of a business. Sole Proprietorship
The most common form of business organization is called a sole proprietorship. The most common way to organize a business, Entrepreneur.com describes it thusly: The sole proprietorship is a popular business form due to its simplicity, ease of setup, and nominal cost. It is the easiest form of business to setup: again, according to Entrepreneur, a sole proprietor need only register his or her name and secure local licenses, and the sole proprietor is ready for business. As the business is not incorporated, all assets and liabilities relating to this form of business are under the control of the individual who started the business; thus, the business owner assumes full liability in the event of a legal judgment. In addition, as there is no legal protection for the business (it being indistinct from the owner), it is entirely possible for a sole proprietor to see their business liquidated as the result of a lawsuit. The owner has complete control of this form of business: no control has to be granted to anyone else. An advantage to this is that they retain all profits: nothing has to be shared with anyone else, and their return on investment is 100%. Income taxes are easy to calculate: a sole proprietor need only declare their business income on their individual tax form. Because of this, there is no real additional workload or burden to the owner unless they choose to do business under a name other than their own, in which case they would be required to register their business name with the particular jurisdiction they reside in. The location of the business only matters if an individual wants to avoid a particular jurisdiction's individual income taxes (corporate taxes are not filed for this form of business): for instance, some states do not charge income tax. No separate legal entities have to be formed if the business changes location: the business is connected to the individual and the business exists as long as the individual chooses to operate it. This form of business has a limited longevity: according to Entrepreneur, sole proprietorships rarely survive the death or incapacity of their owners and so do not retain value. They generally dissolve upon the death of the principal and so cannot be passed on to heirs or others.
According to the Small Business Administration, a general partnership is a business owned by two or more people, with the business partners equally sharing the responsibilities of the business. Like a sole proprietorship, the individual owners of the business assume...
References: Internal Revenue Service. Sole Proprietorships. [->0] [->1]. Accessed October 9, 2012.
Small Business Administration. Partnerships. [->3]. Accessed October 6, 2012.
[->4]. Accessed October 6, 2012.
The Free Dictionary. General Partnerships. [->5]. Accessed October 9, 2012.
Wikipedia. C-corporation. [->6]. Accessed October 9, 2012.
The Company Corporation. C Corporation. [->8]. Accessed October 9, 2012.
BizFilings. S Corporation vs. C Corporation: A Comparison. [->9]. Accessed October 9, 2012.
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