What are the Different Business Legal Structures?

There are several common legal structures that you can set your business up under. Which one you chose is going to depend on what kind of business you are setting up, who else is involved in this plan with you, your own personal preferences, among several other factors. Here is a quick overview of your options.

Sole Proprietorship

This is still the most common type of business structure, particularly for small businesses that are just starting out. This means that one person owns and is responsible for the business. They make all the decisions, but they also hold all the financial responsibility. The profits or losses from the business are reported on the proprietor’s personal taxes.

General Partnership

This is very similar to a sole proprietorship, except that there is more than one person involved in owning and operating the business. The business is still connected to you, but also to your partners. This means you all share in the management and financial responsibilities of the business.

Corporation

A corporation is a entity that is formed and does business on its own, separate from anyone personally. This means that the financial situation of the business does not roll over onto the person who owns the business.

While this may seem like the better option to avoid personal liability if something happens within the business, it can be extremely tedious and expensive to set up and maintain. This is not a viable option for most small business owners because most of them cannot afford the set up fees or maintainence of records required.

Limited Liability Company/Corporation (LLC)

This is a newer and very popular type of business structure because it offers the benefits of a corporation, does not require a lot of the same hassle. Unlike a limited liability partnership, you can set up this type of company with only one person. It provides a lot of the financial protection of a corporation, but does not require as extensive measures to upkeep.

Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

This is a different type of partnership, but it also provides some of the financial protection of a corporation. Unlike an LLC, you must have at least two partners. However, it is easier to maintain and keep your structure than an LLC. This business structure is also much more common in the UK, which LLCs are more popular in the US.

How you set up your business is an important decision. The structure you choose could make a big financial and legal difference. It will depend on many factors, including local laws. Take the time to research your options and talk to an accountant or other business professional and anyone else involved in your business before making your decision.

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