Company Ownership for Small Businesses: Structure Types

Do you want to unleash greater business ownership prospects? If so, you must determine the proper business classification for your firm. 

Today, about 33 million businesses exist in the country. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, but with so many potential ownership structures, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.

In this article, we will discuss essential company ownership structure types. That way, you can pick the best one for your business needs. Keep reading to find out more! 

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is one of the simplest business classifications. This means that one person owns and runs it.

The individual is the only owner and is responsible for all of the business’s profits and losses. The fact that a sole proprietorship doesn’t need to be registered or fill out any paperwork makes it a popular choice for new businesses.

A business owner is also in charge of making decisions and has complete power over the business. Profits from a sole proprietorship are usually easier to tax than profits from other types of businesses. This is because business income and personal income are treated the same, so only one tax return needs to be made.

One of the problems with a sole proprietorship is that the owner is responsible for all debts and legal steps against the business. This means that the business owner’s personal assets are always at risk.


Small businesses often choose to be set up as partnerships. This type of structure comprises two or more people who may or may not be connected.

There are two main kinds of partnerships: general partnerships and limited partnerships. In a general partnership, each partner is equally responsible for the business’s management and debts.

In a limited partnership, on the other hand, general partners run the business and are personally liable for its debts. It also has limited partners who invest but have limited business liabilities.

The partnership agreement also states how much income each person will get. Most of the time, partnerships are easier and cheaper to set up and keep going. Before getting into a business relationship, everyone needs to agree on the long-term goals of the business because it can be hard to get out.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

LLCs are different from single proprietorships in that they protect the owners’ personal assets from the company’s legal obligations. In an LLC, the owners or “members” claim income on their personal taxes, instead of the LLC paying corporate taxes.

Depending on the state, you may have to pay a fee to start an LLC, pay taxes on a regular basis, or hold yearly meetings. An important benefit of an LLC is that it can be set up in a way that lowers self-employment taxes if it is run in the right way.

Also, if the members of the LLC want to, they can change the LLC into a C Corporation at some point. This gives members a lot of ways to plan their taxes.


Since the corporation is separate from its owners, the owner’s liability is limited, and their personal assets are better protected from creditors. Shareholders are important to corporations. Compared to other arrangements, this one usually needs more paperwork and regulations.

There are two kinds of corporations that small businesses can choose from: C corporations and S corporations. C corporations have no restrictions on the number or type of shareholders while S corporations have.

Corporations are set up to stay in business for all time, and their stockholders are protected from the company’s debts and responsibilities. Articles of incorporation and shareholder agreements are two of the documents that are needed to make a corporation official. A business should talk to an attorney to make sure that all corporate formalities are met and kept up.


Cooperative company ownership is a type of business structure where the business is owned and managed collectively by its members. Each member acquires an equity interest in the company and can share in any profits generated.

A cooperative is an ideal structure for small businesses. It allows members to benefit from the collective resources and expertise of the entire organization.

It also minimizes the risks associated with other ownership structures. Members are equally liable for their share of the business obligations, as there is no external shareholder for the co-op.

Additionally, decision-making for the co-op is collective and based on consensus. This allows small business owners to stay in control of their businesses while enjoying many of the advantages of corporate ownership.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Business Ownership Structure

To figure out the best ownership arrangement for your business, you should carefully consider a number of factors. Here are some important things to think about:

Liability Protection

Corporations and LLCs offer protection of the owner’s personal assets from corporate debts and legal liabilities. However, sole proprietorships and partnerships subject owners to unlimited personal liability.


Taxes are handled differently depending on how something is owned. To make good choices, you need to know how each structure affects your taxes.

Ownership and Control

Think about how much of your business you want to own and how much power you want to keep. Sole proprietorships and partnerships make all decisions. Corporations and LLCs may require formal governance and decision-making.


Evaluate the flexibility offered by different ownership structures. Sole proprietorship provides the most flexibility while corporations and cooperatives have more formality which limits flexibility.

Cost and Complexity

Think about how much it will cost to set up and run different ownership models. Think about the tools you have and how much administrative work you are willing to do.

Future Growth and Funding

Corporations and LLCs may be better for growth and funding. Consider how ownership arrangements fit your long-term growth and funding objectives.

Exit Strategy

Consider your exit strategy and how easy it is to sell the business under alternative ownership forms. Some structures make ownership transfers easier than others. Seek the services of commercial merger lawyers who can also help you.

Choose the Right Company Ownership Type for Your Business

Overall, there are multiple company ownership structures to choose from for small businesses. When deciding the best structure, it is important to consider which is the most beneficial from a legal and taxation perspective.

Schedule a consultation with an experienced business lawyer or accountant to ensure the right decision is made. Get started today and take the first step toward ownership success!

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