How a Sole Proprietorship Works | Introduction to Legal Structures


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The most common form of ownership for new businesses is a sole proprietorship.

With tax benefits and relative ease of formation, the sole proprietorship serves as an attractive form of ownership for many new startups. Despite its advantages, a sole proprietorship contains several significant disadvantages that need to be considered. Over the course of this video,​ we’ll outline some of those significant disadvantages.

What is a sole proprietorship and how does it differ from other legal structures for businesses?

As the name suggests, a sole proprietorship is a type of business that is owned and operated by a single individual. It is a popular legal structure for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to have complete control over their business operations. In this article, we will explore how a sole proprietorship works and its advantages and disadvantages as a legal structure.

Formation of a Sole Proprietorship

The formation of a sole proprietorship is relatively simple, and it usually requires few legal formalities. In most cases, a sole proprietor can start operating their business immediately without the need for any formal registration or legal structure formation. However, this does not mean that they are exempt from meeting legal obligations such as obtaining permits and licenses required by state and federal laws.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

One of the primary advantages of a sole proprietorship is that the owner has complete control over their business operations. They dictate the policies, procedures, and overall direction of the business without any interference from external stakeholders. Additionally, a sole proprietorship allows the owner to keep all the profits generated by the business. They are not required to share profits with any other stakeholders.

Another advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is an easy and cost-effective way to get started in the business world. With fewer legal requirements and formalities, the owner can get their business up and running quickly and without incurring significant expenses.

Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

A significant disadvantage of a sole proprietorship is that the owner has unlimited personal liability for the debts and actions of the business. This means that if the business fails to pay its debts or faces legal action, the owner’s personal assets could be seized to settle those debts or damages.

Another disadvantage of a sole proprietorship is that it may be challenging to raise capital or secure loans as an individual’s creditworthiness or business experience is often required to qualify for business loans or funding. Additionally, a sole proprietorship may not be viewed as a viable long-term legal structure due to its limitations, such as the inability to issue stock and potential for limited growth.


In conclusion, a sole proprietorship is a common legal structure for small businesses and entrepreneurs who value complete control over their business operations. While it is relatively easy and cost-effective to establish, it also has significant disadvantages, such as unlimited personal liability and limited capacity for growth. Before deciding to operate as a sole proprietor, business owners should consult with a legal professional and consider other legal structures to determine the best fit for their business needs.

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