A sole proprietorship, also known as the sole trader or simply a proprietorship, is a type of business entity that is owned and run by one natural person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner is in direct control of all elements and is legally accountable for the finances of such business and this may include debts, loans, loss, etc.
The owner receives all profits (subject to taxation specific to the business) and has unlimited responsibility for all losses and debts. Every asset of the business is owned by the proprietor and all debts of the business are the proprietor’s. It is a “sole” proprietorship in contrast with partnerships (which have at least two owners).
A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as partners, agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. The partners in a partnership may be individuals, businesses, interest-based organizations, schools, governments or combinations. Organizations may partner together to increase the likelihood of each achieving their mission and to amplify their reach. A partnership may result in issuing and holding equity or may be only governed by a contract. Partnership agreements can be formed in the following areas:
- Business: two or more companies join forces in a joint venture or a consortium to i) work on a project (e.g. industrial or research project) which would be too heavy or too risky for a single entity, ii) join forces to have a stronger position on the market, iii) comply with specific regulation (e.g. in some emerging countries, foreigners can only invest in the form of partnerships with local entrepreneurs). In this case, the alliance may be structured in a process comparable to a Mergers & Acquisitions transaction.
- Politics (or geopolitics): In what is usually called an alliance, governments may partner to achieve their national interests, sometimes against allied governments holding contrary interests, as occurred during World War II and the Cold War.
- Knowledge: In education, accrediting agencies increasingly evaluate schools, or universities, by the level and quality of their partnerships with local or international peers and a variety of other entities across societal sectors.
Individual: Some partnerships occur at personal levels, such as when two or more individuals agree to domicile together, while other partnerships are not only personal, but private, known only to the involved parties.