All About Structure: Understanding the Various Types of Business Ownership

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |types of business ownership |Understanding the Various Types of Business OwnershipNot all businesses are alike right down to their ownership structure. This structure forms the basis of all business operations. Structure to a business is what the skeletal system is to us, humans.

A business structure boils down to its ownership arrangement. Most people are not familiar with business ownership types. This is an aspect that many start-ups overlook, and it ends up costing them.

There are many types of business ownership, and not all types suit every business. Choosing the most suitable ownership should be a crucial part of your business plan. Once you do so, you can get your business off on the right foot.

You’ve probably heard of a lot of business ownership disputes. Both large and small companies are disposed of ownership disputes. Understanding the business ownership types will help you avoid such embarrassing scenarios in the future.

In this piece, we’ll expound on the different types of ownership for businesses. That way, you can find what ownership structure best suits your business.

Importance of Business Ownership Structures

Business structure is pretty important, but only if you have the right one in place. The wrong business structure beats the point of having a structure in the first place. That’s why pinning down on the most appropriate business structure is crucial.

Ownership is structured because it provides a framework for handling legal matters. It portrays professionalism and gives potential investors confidence. Certain ownership types open up opportunities for shareholders and stakeholders who will be invaluable to your company.

Common Types of Business Ownership You Could Consider

There are many forms of business ownership types. As a business owner, you have to settle for the right type to engender your businesses’ success.

The following are legally-recognized business ownership structure you should consider for your business:

Sole Proprietorship

This is the most basic type of business ownership. As the name suggests, the business owner owns everything in this type of business ownership.

A sole proprietorship means you have complete control of the entire enterprise. You don’t even have to have a physical enclosure for your business. Plus, you get to keep all the profits, but you also have to deal with all the debt.


  • You have complete control of the company and can make all key decisions
  • Fees and business licenses are inexpensive depending on the state where your business is
  • You may be liable for tax deductions since you and your business are in practice considered as one
  • Dissolving the business will be easy without the need for too much formal paperwork


  • It will be difficult to hire new employees or scale-up operations
  • You have to do everything, which could be overwhelming
  • You also have to deal with all losses, and debt, which may come out your own pocket

Limited Liability Company (LLC)-Manager Managed

A group of members owns the business, and they all share the company’s liability. A managing member handles all business activities.

This business ownership separates your business from personal assets. As such, legal implications will not touch your property or the members’ personal property either.

For instance, if a lawsuit requires you to compensate or pay for something, you won’t have to tap into your personal assets. This ownership type basically considers you and your business as separate entities.

This structure is ideal for people who are big risk-takers but want to protect their stuff if everything goes downhill. However, you still stand to lose a lot if the business fails. That’s why smart LLCs settle for a legal business operating agreement.


  • It is not difficult to set up, depending on your state, especially if you hire an attorney or business formation service like Zenbusiness or Legalzoom
  • The managing member will take care of all operations
  • Individual members share responsibility which you can change easily
  • Gives small and medium businesses a professional outlook
  • Depending on your state, you may qualify for tax deductions


  • Will completely crumble if key members exit
  • Managing members typically have greater liability
  • You have limited decisive powers if you’re not a managing member
  • You would share losses even if they were brought about by a single member


It’s hard to establish a successful business on your own. That’s why most people settle for partnerships to navigate the convoluted field of business.

Partnerships vary because of the different number of partners and also shared responsibility between partners.

Partnerships mainly boil down to two types. These types are:-

General Partnerships– General partnerships are partnerships mostly between two individuals. Each party shares equal responsibility and liability in the firm.

Limited Partnerships – In these types of partnerships, one person takes charge of the company, while the rest of the partners are only investors.


  • Financing and responsibility is shared among members
  • Flexibility in terms of ownership and responsibility among members
  • It’s easy to set up the business structure
  • An investor may invest heavily, for a portion of the ownership


  • Trust and co-operation is imperative to a successful partnership
  • A partnership between two individuals can have many tied votes on crucial matters
  • Other partners’ actions may put you at debt without any involvement
  • Might need a formal partnership agreement to avoid any disputes

Corporation Board Member

Corporations are large scale companies. These companies delegate the decision making aspects of the company operations to a board of directors.

This ownership structure is one of the most complex business structures. Understandably so, it engenders the ownership of very large multinational companies.

The board members have a lot of responsibility in managing the company. The board dictates the company’s ultimate mission and also sets targets and goals the company must achieve within a given time.

There are a lot of meetings with corporations. Only high-level professionals or heavy investors qualify to be on the board of directors.

Choose a Business Ownership Type That Suits Your Business

With the many types of business ownership, finding the right one for your business shouldn’t be an issue. However, think critically about the type of ownership you settle for. It will determine many aspects of your business in the times ahead.

Partnerships are good for small and medium-sized businesses. If you’re a very small startup, then you can start off as a sole proprietorship. As the business grows, you can explore other ownership options to adapt to the growth.
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