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What Is a Business?

The term business refers to an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities. Businesses can be for-profit entities or they can be non-profit organizations that operate to fulfill a charitable mission or further a social cause. Businesses range in scale from sole proprietorships to international corporations and can range in size from small to large.

The term business can also be used to define the efforts and activities of individuals to produce and sell goods and services for profit

What Is a Business?

Characteristics of Business: 

  • A business is defined as an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial, or professional activities.
  • Businesses can be for-profit entities or non-profit organizations.
  • Business types range from limited liability companies, sole proprietorships, corporations, and partnerships.
  • There are businesses that run as small operations in a single industry while others are large operations that spread across many industries around the world.
  • Google and Pepsi are two examples of well-known, successful businesses.

Broad Concept of Business:

The term business can take on two different meanings. The first refers to an entity that operates for commercial, industrial, or professional reasons. The entity generally begins with a concept (the idea) and a name. An extensive Market Analysis may be required to determine how feasible it is to turn the idea into a business.

Businesses often require business plans before operations begin. A business plan is a formal document that outlines the company's goals and objectives. It also lists the strategies and ways it plans to achieve these goals and objectives to succeed. Business plans are almost always essential when you want to borrow capital in order to begin operations.

Determining the legal structure of the business is another important factor to consider. Business owners may need to secure permits and licenses and follow registration requirements in order to begin legal operations. Corporations are considered to be juridical persons in many countries, meaning that the business can own property, take on debt, and be sued in court.

Most businesses operate with the purpose of generating a profit. But that isn't necessarily an essential requirement of running a business. Some businesses have a goal to advance a certain cause. As such, these entities are referred to as for-profit businesses. Organizations that aren't profit-based are referred to as not-for-profit or nonprofits. These entities may operate as:

  • Charities
  • Arts, culture, educational, and recreational enterprises
  • Political and advocacy groups
  • Social services organizations

Types of Businesses

Many businesses organize themselves around some sort of hierarchy or bureaucracy, where positions in a company have established roles and responsibilities. The most common structures include:

  • Sole proprietorships: As the name suggests, a sole proprietorship is owned and operated by a single natural person. There is no legal separation between the business and the owner, which means the tax and legal liabilities of the business fall on the owner.
  • Partnerships: A partnership is a business relationship between two or more people who join forces to conduct business. Each partner contributes resources and money to the business and shares in the profits and losses of the business. The shared profits and losses are recorded on each partner's tax return. 
  • Corporations: A corporation is a business in which a group of people acts together as a single entity. Owners are commonly referred to as shareholders who exchange consideration for the corporation's common stock. Incorporating a business releases owners of the financial liability of business obligations. A corporation comes with unfavorable taxation rules for the owners of the business.
  • Limited liability companies (LLCs): This is a relatively new business structure and was first available in Wyoming in 1977 and other states in the 1990s. A limited liability company combines the pass-through taxation benefits of a partnership with the limited liability benefits of a corporation.

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