Difference Between Sole Proprietorship and Partnership

Difference Between Sole Proprietorship and Partnership

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Chanchal
Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Jan 9, 2024 18:53 IST

A sole proprietorship is a business owned and operated by one individual, offering complete control and liability, while a partnership involves two or more individuals who share ownership, profits, losses, and liabilities, requiring collaboration and shared decision-making. Let's understand the most important difference between sole proprietorship and partnership. 

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When it comes to business management, we have several options available. Amongst them, Sole proprietorship and Partnership are two common types of business structures. The main difference between them lies in the number of owners involved in the business. Here we will discuss the differences between Sole Proprietorship and Partnership. Let’s understand!

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Table of Content

Comparative Table: Sole Proprietorship and Partnership

Let’s now look at the head-to-head difference between Sole Proprietorship and Partnership.

Comparison Basis Sole Proprietorship Partnership
Structure A person is responsible for owning and managing all business activities. Two or more people join hands to run the business and share profits.
Governing Act No specific Statue Indian Partnership Act, 1932
Incorporation Not required Voluntary
Minimum Members Only one person Two
Liability Born by the proprietor only. Shared between partners.
Duration Uncertain Based on partners’ desire and capacity
Freedom Without requiring the consent of others, the owner is free to make all choices pertaining to how the business is run. If the partners cannot work out their differences, internal conflict and different viewpoints could hinder the company’s growth and possibly put it at risk of dissolution.
Management Inadequate management due to limited skills. Partners’ combined skills enable effective management.
Finance The limited scope of raising capital. The potential for generating funds is relatively large.

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What is Partnership?

A partnership is a business structure where two or more individuals, known as partners, come together to operate a business. Partnerships can be formed for various reasons, such as pooling resources, sharing expertise, and reducing risks.

In a partnership, each partner contributes to the business, whether it be financially, through labour, or expertise. Partnerships can be general, where all partners share equal responsibility and liability, or limited, where one or more partners have limited liability and responsibility.

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One of the key advantages of a partnership is that it allows for shared decision-making and a wider pool of resources and expertise. Partnerships can also be beneficial in terms of tax treatment, as the profits and losses of the business are divided among the partners based on their ownership share and are reported on their tax returns.

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What is Sole Proprietorship?

The sole proprietorship is a business structure where an individual owns and operates a business. It is the simplest and most common form of business ownership, often used by small businesses and self-employed individuals.

In a sole proprietorship, the owner is responsible for all aspects of the business, including finances, operations, and management. They also retain all profits and are liable personally for any debts or legal issues that may arise. This means that the owner’s personal assets, such as their home or car, can be used to pay off any debts incurred by the business.

One of the key advantages of a sole proprietorship is easy setup and inexpensive to set up and operate. There are few legal requirements, and the owner has complete control over the business. Additionally, the owner is not required to file a separate tax return for the business but rather reports the business income and expenses on their tax return.

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Key Differences Sole Proprietorship and Partnership 

  • Ownership: Sole Proprietorship is owned by one individual, while Partnership involves two or more owners.
  • Liability: In Sole Proprietorship, the owner has unlimited personal liability, whereas in Partnership, liability is shared among partners.
  • Profit Sharing: Sole Proprietor retains all profits, but in a Partnership, profits are divided among partners as per agreement.
  • Decision Making: Decision-making is solely at the discretion of the owner in Sole Proprietorship, but is a joint effort in Partnership.
  • Taxation: Both are pass-through entities, but partnerships require an additional informational return.
  • Legal Formalities: Sole Proprietorship involves fewer legal formalities, while Partnership may require a partnership agreement and other formalities.

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Top FAQs on Sole Proprietorship and Partnership

What is the main difference between a sole proprietorship and a partnership?

A sole proprietorship is owned by one person, responsible for all decisions and liabilities, whereas a partnership involves two or more people sharing ownership, profits, and liabilities.

How does liability differ in a sole proprietorship and a partnership?

In a sole proprietorship, the owner has unlimited personal liability for debts, while in a partnership, partners share the liabilities and debts of the business.

What are the tax implications for sole proprietorships and partnerships?

Both are pass-through entities for tax purposes, meaning the income is taxed on the owners' personal tax returns, but partnerships require a separate return to report income and losses.

How is decision-making different in these two business types?

Decision-making in a sole proprietorship is solely at the discretion of the owner, whereas in a partnership, decisions are typically made jointly by the partners.

About the Author
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Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content

Chanchal is a creative and enthusiastic content creator who enjoys writing research-driven, audience-specific and engaging content. Her curiosity for learning and exploring makes her a suitable writer for a variety ... Read Full Bio