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One of the first decisions that you will have to make as a business owner is how the business should be

structured. All businesses must adopt some legal configuration that defines the rights and liabilities of participants in the
business’s ownership, control, personal liability, life span, and financial structure. This decision will have long-term
implications, so you may want to consult with an accountant and attorney to help you select the form of ownership that is
right for you.

Forms of Business Organization

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a business that is owned and operated by a single individual. When it comes to financial
responsibility, the business does not have a separate existence from the owner, who may be held personally liable for
business expenses.

Sole proprietorships may operate under the owner’s name, or under a fictitious name, though the laws governing the use
of fictitious names vary by state. Even when a fictitious name is used, it does not create an entity separate from the
business’ owner. Sole proprietorships are popular because of the simplicity of getting started.

Example of a Sole Proprietorship

Jane owns a beauty supply store in the town where she resides. Business has picked up for Jane so she decides to order
several months’ worth of supplies in advance, at a cost of about $12,000, which is to be paid in monthly instalments.

A couple of months after Jane purchased the large order of inventory, the mill in her town closed down, laying off more
than 200 employees. Suddenly the town is experiencing an economic recession, and Jane can’t sell her products quickly
enough to make her payments.

In this example of a sole proprietorship of the business, Jane is personally liable for the debt. This means that the supply
company, and any other creditors, can file a civil lawsuit against Jane and go after her business assets, as well as her
personal property, including her home.

Partnerships
In a Partnership, two or more people share ownership of a single business. Like proprietorships, the law does not
distinguish between the business and its owners. The Partners should have a legal agreement that sets forth how
decisions will be made, profits will be shared, disputes will be resolved, how future partners will be admitted to the
partnership, how partners can be bought out, or what steps will be taken to dissolve the partnership when needed; Yes,
its hard to think about a “break-up” when the business is just getting started, but many partnerships split up at crisis
times and unless there is a defined process, there will be even greater problems. They also must decide up front how
much time and capital each will contribute, etc.

Corporations
A Corporation, chartered by the state in which it is headquartered, is considered by law to be a unique entity, separate
and apart from those who own it. A Corporation can be taxed; it can be sued; it can enter into contractual agreements.
The owners of a corporation are its shareholders. The shareholders elect a board of directors to oversee the major
policies and decisions. The corporation has a life of its own and does not dissolve when ownership changes.
McDonald's is the world's largest fast food retailer. According to its website, the company has over 36,000 restaurants in
more than 100 countries, and "1.9 million people work for McDonald's and its franchisers. McDonald’s states that more
than 80 percent of its restaurants are franchised.
McDonald's had total revenues of $27.44 billion in 2014, with net income of $5.59 billion. It is publicly traded under the
symbol MCD.
McDonald's was the United States' largest purchaser of beef and the second largest purchaser of poultry as of 2007.