Once you have done your research and you know that you have a good business idea, you have to decide if you are going to be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, a society, or a co-operative. These are the most common business structures in BC:
- Sole proprietorship: When you operate the business on your own, either under a business name or your own name. Many people starting out in business are sole proprietors. Sole proprietorship is the easiest way to set up a business. It is often referred to as being self-employed.
- Partnership: When you operate the business with one or more partners.
- Corporation: When you operate the business as a separate legal entity, separate from yourself and your personal assets.
- Society: When you operate a not-for-profit organization, in which any funds or profits will be used only for the society's purposes.
- Co-operative: When you operate a business that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use and benefit from your services.
The Small Business BC fact sheet on How to Choose the Right Business Structure for Your Small Business describes the advantages and disadvantages of these different structures. You can also use the Help choose my business structure tool from the BC Government. Most small businesses start out as sole-proprietorships – where one person owns the business.