Business Formation Legalities and legal aspects: Business Entities

Starting a new business is an exciting endeavor that requires a great deal of planning, preparation, and legal know-how. One of the most critical steps in starting a new business is determining the legal structure of the company. This will have a significant impact on the way the business operates, the way it is taxed, and the legal protections afforded to the owners, along with filing for Trademarks and Copyrights.

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to understanding the legal aspects of business formation. We will explore the various types of business structures, the legal requirements for each, and the advantages and disadvantages of each structure.

Types of Business Structures

There are several types of business structures to consider when starting a new business. These structures include sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common form of business structure. In a sole proprietorship, the business is owned and operated by a single individual. There is no legal distinction between the individual and the business, and the owner is personally liable for all of the company’s debts and obligations.

The advantages of a sole proprietorship include simplicity, low startup costs, and full control over the business. However, a sole proprietorship does not provide any legal protection for the owner, and the business may have difficulty raising capital or attracting investors.


A partnership is a business structure in which two or more individuals own and operate the business. There are two main types of partnerships: general partnerships and limited partnerships.

In a general partnership, all partners share equally in the profits and losses of the business, and all partners are personally liable for the company’s debts and obligations. In a limited partnership, there are one or more general partners who are personally liable for the company’s debts and obligations, and one or more limited partners who have limited liability.

The advantages of a partnership include shared responsibility and resources, and the ability to pool capital and expertise. However, partnerships can be difficult to manage, and partners may have disagreements over the direction of the business.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company (LLC) is a hybrid business structure that combines the advantages of a corporation and a partnership. In an LLC, the members have limited liability for the company’s debts and obligations. Company’s profits and losses are passed through to the members and taxed personally.

The advantages of an LLC include limited liability for the members, flexible management structure, and the ability to choose how the company is taxed. However, LLCs can be more complicated to set up and maintain than other business structures, and members may have disagreements over the management of the company.


A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners, known as shareholders. In a corporation, the shareholders own the company and elect a board of directors to manage the company’s affairs. The board of directors appoints officers, such as the CEO and CFO, to run the day-to-day operations of the business.

The advantages of a corporation include limited liability for the shareholders, the ability to raise capital through the sale of stock, and the ability to attract investors. However, corporations are subject to more regulations and formalities than other business structures, and they may be more expensive to set up and maintain.

Legal Requirements for Business Formation

Certain legal requirements will have to be met regardless of the structure. These requirements may vary depending on the state and local laws where the business is located, but some of the most common requirements include:

Business Name Registration

Most states require businesses to register their business name with the Secretary of State’s office. This helps prevent multiple businesses from operating under the same name and protects the public from confusion about the legal requirements for business formation:

Business License and Permits

Many businesses require a license or permit to operate legally. The types of licenses and permits required will depend on the type of business and the location. For example, a restaurant may require a health department permit, while a construction company may require a building permit.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify a business for tax purposes. Regardless of employees, these businesses require an EIN, or Federal Tax ID.

Articles of Incorporation or Organization

Corporations and LLCs must file articles of incorporation or organization with the state in which they are formed. These documents establish the legal existence of the business and provide information about the business, such as its name, purpose, and management structure.

Operating Agreement or Bylaws

LLCs and Corps are required to have an operating agreement. These documents establish rules for the management, how decisions will be made, how profits will be distributed, and how disputes will be resolved.


Businesses must pay federal, state, and local taxes. The type of taxes a business must pay will depend on the type of business structure and the location. Sole proprietors and partnerships are typically taxed as individuals, while corporations and LLCs are subject to separate tax rules.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Business Structure

Each type of business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best structure for a particular business will depend on the unique needs and goals of that business.

Sole Proprietorship


  • Simple and easy to set up
  • Full control over the business
  • Low startup costs


  • Personal liability for the owner
  • Difficulty raising capital
  • Limited growth potential



  • Shared responsibility and resources
  • Ability to pool capital and expertise
  • Easy to set up


  • Personal liability for the partners
  • Difficulty managing disagreements among partners
  • Limited growth potential

Limited Liability Company (LLC)


  • Limited liability for the members
  • Flexible management structure
  • ability to choose tax structure


  • More complicated to set up and maintain than other structures
  • Members may have disagreements over management of the company
  • Limited growth potential



  • Limited liability for the shareholders
  • Ability to raise capital through the sale of stock
  • Ability to attract investors


  • More regulations and formalities than other structures
  • More expensive to set up and maintain
  • Limited flexibility in management structure


Choosing the right business structure is a critical step in starting a new business. It is important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each structure and to consult with legal and financial professionals before making a decision. By understanding the legal aspects of business formation, entrepreneurs can set themselves up for success and protect themselves from legal and financial risks.

Additional Resources:
  1. The Small Business Administration (SBA) website: The SBA provides resources and information for small business owners, including information on legal requirements for starting and operating a business.
  2. NOLO: NOLO provides legal information and DIY legal solutions for small business owners and entrepreneurs, including guidance on business formation, contracts, and intellectual property.