Forms of Business Organization: Meaning and Examples

Forms of Business Organization: Meaning and Examples

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Chanchal
Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Nov 24, 2023 17:32 IST

Ever wondered why some businesses operate solo while others flourish as massive corporations? The answer lies in a pivotal entrepreneurial decision: choosing the right forms of business organization. Think of it as the architectural plan for your enterprise, shaping its functioning, growth, and place in the business world. Forms of business organization include Sole proprietorship, Hindu Undivided Family, Partnership, Corporation, and Cooperative Sector. Let’s understand!

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Consider this: you could be a sole proprietor as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos started, a Hindu undivided family like Reliance Industries, a partner, similar to the collaboration between N.R. Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani who founded Infosys; cooperation like Apple Inc., founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, and cooperative society akin to the Amul cooperative in India. Each form carries unique traits, strengths, and legal obligations, impacting personal liability, taxation, and decision-making.

In this blog, we’ll delve into these varied business structures. We’ll highlight their significance and how they influence a company’s journey. Most importantly, we’ll chart a course to help you select the most suitable form for your entrepreneurial vision, setting you on a sturdy path to success. Join us as we navigate this intriguing terrain.

Table of Content

Forms of Business Organization

Sole Proprietorship

Sole proprietorship, as the name suggests, is owned and managed by a Single (Sole) Person (Proprietor). It is the simplest form of business organization where a single individual owns and operates the business. This structure has no legal distinction between the owner and the business itself. This means the owner has full control over decision-making, receives all profits, and bears all the business’s liabilities. It’s easy to set up, involves minimal paperwork, and is suitable for small, owner-driven enterprises like freelancers, small shops, or consulting services. However, it carries a higher personal liability risk and may face challenges in raising capital. Sole proprietorships are common for those seeking full autonomy and simplicity in their business endeavours. 

Read in Detail: Sole Proprietorship- A Significant Business Form

Example:

In 1994, Jeff Bezos started Amazon as a sole proprietorship, initially selling books online. Leveraging the internet’s expansive reach, Amazon’s USP became its vast selection and convenient home delivery. Despite early financial instability and scepticism from investors, Bezos’ relentless focus on customer satisfaction propelled Amazon to dominate the e-commerce sector. Overcoming challenges through innovation and expansion into various product categories, Amazon transformed from a small online bookstore into a global e-commerce giant, setting a benchmark in the industry.

Note: Coca-Cola started as a sole proprietorship but became a public company in 1997.

Also read: Difference Between Sole Proprietorship and Partnership

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Hindu Undivided Family

A Joint Hindu Family Business is a distinctive business organisation prevalent in India, particularly among Hindu communities. It is a family-centric business structure, where the business is owned and operated by the members of a Hindu undivided family, governed by Hindu law. The head of the family, known as the ‘Karta, ' oversees the business operations, while other members (co-parceners) have equal rights and share in the business assets and profits. This structure fosters unity and provides financial security, as the liability of the members is limited to their share in the business. It is known for its continuity, as it passes from generation to generation, ensuring the business’s longevity.

Example:

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is an example of a business originating from a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) structure. It was founded by Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966, and the business has been managed and expanded by his family members, including his sons Mukesh and Anil Ambani, over the years. The Ambani family continues to influence the company’s operations and growth significantly, embodying the principles of family unity and collective decision-making characteristic of HUF businesses.

Reliance Industries’ USP lies in its diverse portfolio encompassing petrochemicals, telecommunications, and retail sectors. Initially facing challenges like capital constraints and market competition, Reliance overcame them through innovative strategies. Also, using massive infrastructure development and leveraging technology. Reliance became a leader with Jio by offering disruptive pricing strategies. It includes free voice calls and affordable data plans, revolutionising the Indian telecom sector.

 

Partnership

Partnerships are business structures where two or more individuals operate a business according to a Partnership Deed’s terms and objectives. This structure facilitates pooling resources and skills, allowing partners to share profits and losses proportionately. Partnerships are relatively easy to establish and offer greater borrowing capacity than sole proprietorships. However, they also entail joint liability, meaning each partner is personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. It’s popular for professional service firms like law or accounting firms due to its collaborative nature and shared responsibilities.

Explore: Difference Between Partnership And Company

Types of partnership include:

  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Joint Venture

Read in Detail: Partnership Definition, its Different Types, and Benefits

Example:

Infosys, founded in 1981 by N. R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, and five other engineers, quickly became a global technology services and consulting pioneer. Despite initial financial constraints and a nascent IT market in India, Infosys innovated with a global delivery model that became its USP. Overcoming early challenges, it capitalized on the tech boom, offering cost-effective and quality solutions, and grew into a multinational corporation, symbolizing India’s prowess in the IT sector.

Corporation

A corporation is a legal entity. It is separate and distinct from its owners, created under the laws of a state to conduct business. Corporations can own property, enter into contracts, sue and be sued, just like individuals. They are characterized by the transferable shares of ownership, governed by a board of directors elected by shareholders. This structure limits the liability of shareholders to the amount invested in the company, protecting personal assets from business debts. Corporations are subject to specific tax obligations and benefit from raising capital through stock sale. This business model is prevalent globally due to its ability to accumulate substantial financial resources and achieve large-scale operations.

Also read: Company: Meaning, Features and Advantages

Types of corporations:

C Corporation: A standard corporation where the company is taxed separately from its owners, often leading to double taxation on profits (corporate level and then on individual shareholders when dividends are distributed).

S Corporation: A corporation that avoids double taxation by passing profits, losses, deductions, and credits through to shareholders for federal tax purposes, but with restrictions on the number and type of permissible shareholders.

Limited Liability Company (LLC): Combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax benefits and operational flexibility of a partnership.

Also read: Difference Between Partnership and LLP

Non-Profit Corporation: A type of corporation that uses its revenue to achieve a specific goal that serves the public good rather than distributing profits to shareholders.

Explore: Difference Between Public and Private Company

Example

Apple Inc., founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, revolutionized the technology industry with its innovative products like the iPhone and MacBook. Initially facing stiff competition and fluctuating market shares, Apple overcame challenges through continuous innovation and focused on creating user-friendly, premium-quality products. Its commitment to innovation and brand building has cemented its position as a global leader in the technology sector.

Check out: What is Joint Stock Company?

Cooperative (Co-op)

A cooperative society is a voluntary association of individuals united to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. Members contribute equity capital and share in the firm’s control based on the one-member, one-vote principle, promoting equality and mutual help. This business model fosters a collaborative approach to commerce, focusing on service provision and community development rather than profit maximisation. Cooperatives can operate in various sectors, including agriculture, retail, finance, and healthcare, offering members a stronger bargaining position and benefits derived from economies of scale while nurturing community solidarity and cooperation.

Read in Detail: What is a Cooperative Society?

Example

Amul, founded in 1946 by Tribhuvandas Patel with guidance from Verghese Kurien, revolutionised the dairy industry in India with its cooperative model, uniting local farmers and ensuring fair prices. Despite initial resistance from established dairy players and logistical challenges, Amul overcame these hurdles through technological innovation and a strong distribution network. It established itself as a trusted brand offering high-quality dairy products at reasonable prices, symbolising farmers’ economic empowerment and becoming a staple in Indian households.

How to Choose the Right Business Form

Selecting the right business form involves considering various factors, including the nature of the business, financial resources, liability aspects, tax implications, and long-term goals. Here are some steps and considerations to help in making the right choice:

Understand the Business Nature: Different businesses have different needs. Analyse the nature of your business to determine which structure would be most suitable.

Financial Resources: Consider the capital required to start and operate the business. Some business forms allow for easier access to financial resources.

Liability Aspects: Evaluate the extent of personal liability you are willing to assume. Corporations and LLCs protect personal liability, while sole proprietorships and partnerships do not.

Tax Implications: Different business structures have different tax implications. Understanding how each structure is taxed is essential to choosing the most tax-efficient form.

Control and Management: Consider how much control you want over the business. Sole proprietorships offer complete control, while corporations involve a more complex management structure.

Regulatory Compliance and Formalities: Some business forms require adhering to numerous regulatory compliances and formalities, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Future Goals and Scalability: Consider your long-term goals for the business, including potential growth and scalability. Some structures are more suited to scaling up than others.

Seek Expert Advice: Consult with legal and financial advisors to better understand each business form’s implications and receive personalised advice based on your business plan.

FAQs

What are forms of business organization?

Business forms include Sole proprietorship, Hindu Undivided Family, Partnership, Corporation and Cooperative.

What is a sole proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is a business owned and operated by a single individual. The owner has full control and is personally liable for the business's debts.

What is a partnership?

A partnership is a business structure where two or more individuals or entities share ownership and responsibilities. Partners share profits and liabilities based on the partnership agreement.

What is a corporation?

A corporation is a separate legal entity owned by shareholders. It provides limited liability to its owners and can raise capital by selling stocks. It's subject to corporate taxation.

What is a cooperative (co-op)?

A cooperative is a business owned and operated by its members for their mutual benefit. Members share in the decision-making process and profits.

What types of businesses are suitable for a cooperative structure?

Cooperatives are often used for businesses where members have a shared interest, such as agricultural co-ops, credit unions, and worker cooperatives.

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