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Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). [ need quotation to verify ] Simply put, it is "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit."
Having a business name does not separate the business entity from the owner, which means that the owner of the business is responsible and liable for debts incurred by the business. If the business acquires debts, the creditors can go after the owner's personal possessions. A business structure does not allow for corporate tax rates. The proprietor is personally taxed on all income from the business.
The term is also often used colloquially (but not by lawyers or by public officials) to refer to a company. A company, on the other hand, is a separate legal entity and provides for limited liability, as well as corporate tax rates. A company structure is more complicated and expensive to set up, but offers more protection and benefits for the owner.
Forms of business ownership vary by jurisdiction, but several common entities exist:
Less common types of companies are:
Note that "Ltd after the company's name signifies limited company, and PLC (public limited company) indicates that its shares are widely held."
In legal parlance, the owners of a company are normally referred to as the "members". In a company limited or unlimited by shares (formed or incorporated with a share capital), this will be the shareholders. In a company limited by guarantee, this will be the guarantors. Some offshore jurisdictions have created special forms of offshore company in a bid to attract business for their jurisdictions. Examples include "segregated portfolio companies" and restricted purpose companies.
There are, however, many, many sub-categories of types of company that can be formed in various jurisdictions in the world.
Companies are also sometimes distinguished into public companies and private companies for legal and regulatory purposes. Public companies are companies whose shares can be publicly traded, often (although not always) on a stock exchange which imposes listing requirements/Listing Rules as to the issued shares, the trading of shares and a future issue of shares to help bolster the reputation of the exchange or particular market of exchange. Private companies do not have publicly traded shares, and often contain restrictions on transfers of shares. In some jurisdictions, private companies have maximum numbers of shareholders.
A parent company is a company that owns enough voting stock in another firm to control management and operations by influencing or electing its board of directors; the second company being deemed as a subsidiary of the parent company. The definition of a parent company differs by jurisdiction, with the definition normally being defined by way of laws dealing with companies in that jurisdiction.
Accounting is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial information about economic entitiessuch as businesses and corporations. The modern field was established by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.
Finance is a field that deals with the study of investments. It includes the dynamics of assets and liabilities over time under conditions of different degrees of uncertainty and risk. Finance can also be defined as the science of money management. Finance aims to price assets based on their risk level and their expected rate of return. Finance can be broken into three different sub categories: public finance, corporate finance, and personal finance. Activities also include budgeting, forecasting and lending money, and is defined as the management of money.
Manufacturing is the production of merchandise for use or sale using labour and machines, tools, chemical and biological processing, or formulation. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale.
Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."The term developed from the original meaning which referred literally to going to a market to buy or sell goods or services. Marketing tactics include advertising as well as determining product pricing.
With the rise in technology, marketing is further divided into a class called digital marketing. It is marketing products and services using digital technologies.
Research and development refer to activities in connection with corporate or government innovation.Research and development constitute the first stage of development of a potential new service or product. Research and development are very difficult to manage since the defining feature of the research is that the researchers do not know in advance exactly how to accomplish the desired result.
Injuries cost businesses billions of dollars annually.Studies have shown how company acceptance and implementation of comprehensive safety and health management systems reduce incidents, insurance costs, and workers' compensation claims. New technologies, like wearable safety devices and available online safety training, continue to be developed to encourage employers to invest in protection beyond the "canary in the coal mine" and reduce the cost to businesses of protecting their employees.
Sales are activity related to selling or the number of goods or services sold in a given time period. Sales are often integrated with all lines of business and are key to a companies' success.
The efficient and effective operation of a business, and study of this subject, is called management. The major branches of management are financial management, marketing management, human resource management, strategic management, production management, operations management, service management, and information technology management. [ citation needed ]
Owners may manage their businesses themselves, or employ managers to do so for them. Whether they are owners or employees, managers administer three primary components of the business' value: financial resources, capital (tangible resources), and human resources. These resources are administered in at least six functional areas: legal contracting, manufacturing or service production, marketing, accounting, financing, and human resources.[ citation needed ]
In recent decades, states modeled some of their assets and enterprises after business enterprises. In 2003, for example, the People's Republic of China modeled 80% of its state-owned enterprises on a company-type management system.Many state institutions and enterprises in China and Russia have transformed into joint-stock companies, with part of their shares being listed on public stock markets.
Business process management (BPM) is a holistic management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. BPM attempts to improve processes continuously. It can, therefore, be described as a "process optimization process". It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient, effective and capable of change than a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical management approach.[ who? ]
Most legal jurisdictions specify the forms of ownership that a business can take, creating a body of commercial law for each type.
The major factors affecting how a business is organized are usually:
Many businesses are operated through a separate entity such as a corporation or a partnership (either formed with or without limited liability). Most legal jurisdictions allow people to organize such an entity by filing certain charter documents with the relevant Secretary of State or equivalent and complying with certain other ongoing obligations. The relationships and legal rights of shareholders, limited partners, or members are governed partly by the charter documents and partly by the law of the jurisdiction where the entity is organized. Generally speaking, shareholders in a corporation, limited partners in a limited partnership, and members in a limited liability company are shielded from personal liability for the debts and obligations of the entity, which is legally treated as a separate "person". This means that unless there is misconduct, the owner's own possessions are strongly protected in law if the business does not succeed.
Where two or more individuals own a business together but have failed to organize a more specialized form of vehicle, they will be treated as a general partnership. The terms of a partnership are partly governed by a partnership agreement if one is created, and partly by the law of the jurisdiction where the partnership is located. No paperwork or filing is necessary to create a partnership, and without an agreement, the relationships and legal rights of the partners will be entirely governed by the law of the jurisdiction where the partnership is located. A single person who owns and runs a business is commonly known as a sole proprietor, whether that person owns it directly or through a formally organized entity. Depending on the business needs, an adviser can decide what kind is proprietorship will be most suitable.
A few relevant factors to consider in deciding how to operate a business include:
A very detailed and well-established body of rules that evolved over a very long period of time applies to commercial transactions. The need to regulate trade and commerce and resolve business disputes helped shape the creation of law and courts. The Code of Hammurabi dates back to about 1772 BC for example and contains provisions that relate, among other matters, to shipping costs and dealings between merchants and brokers.The word "corporation" derives from the Latin corpus, meaning body, and the Maurya Empire in Iron-Age India accorded legal rights to business entities.
In many countries, it is difficult to compile all the laws that can affect a business into a single reference source. Laws can govern the treatment of labour and employee relations, worker protection and safety, discrimination on the basis of age, gender, disability, race, and in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, and the minimum wage, as well as unions, worker compensation, and working hours and leave.
Some specialized businesses may also require licenses, either due to laws governing entry into certain trades, occupations or professions, that require special education or to raise revenue for local governments. Professions that require special licenses include law, medicine, piloting aircraft, selling liquor, radio broadcasting, selling investment securities, selling used cars, and roofing. Local jurisdictions may also require special licenses and taxes just to operate a business.
Some businesses are subject to ongoing special regulation, for example, public utilities, investment securities, banking, insurance, broadcasting, aviation, and health care providers. Environmental regulations are also very complex and can affect many businesses.
When businesses need to raise money (called capital), they sometimes offer securities for sale.
Capital may be raised through private means, by an initial public offering or IPO on a stock exchange,or in other ways.
Major stock exchanges include the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange, Hong Kong Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ (the USA), the London Stock Exchange (UK), the Tokyo Stock Exchange (Japan), and Bombay Stock Exchange (India). Most countries with capital markets have at least one.
Businesses that have gone public are subject to regulations concerning their internal governance, such as how executive officers' compensation is determined, and when and how information is disclosed to shareholders and to the public. In the United States, these regulations are primarily implemented and enforced by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Other western nations have comparable regulatory bodies. The regulations are implemented and enforced by the China Securities Regulation Commission (CSRC) in China. In Singapore, the regulatory authority is the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), and in Hong Kong, it is the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC).
The proliferation and increasing complexity of the laws governing business have forced increasing specialization in corporate law. It is not unheard of for certain kinds of corporate transactions to require a team of five to ten attorneys due to sprawling regulation. Commercial law spans general corporate law, employment and labor law, health-care law, securities law, mergers and acquisitions, tax law, employee benefit plans, food and drug regulation, intellectual property law on copyrights, patents, trademarks, telecommunications law, and financing.
Other types of capital sourcing include crowdsourcing on the Internet, venture capital, bank loans, and debentures.
Businesses often have important "intellectual property" that needs protection from competitors for the company to stay profitable. This could require patents, copyrights, trademarks, or preservation of trade secrets.Most businesses have names, logos, and similar branding techniques that could benefit from trademarking. Patents and copyrights in the United States are largely governed by federal law, while trade secrets and trademarking are mostly a matter of state law. Because of the nature of intellectual property, a business needs protection in every jurisdiction in which they are concerned about competitors. Many countries are signatories to international treaties concerning intellectual property, and thus companies registered in these countries are subject to national laws bound by these treaties. In order to protect trade secrets, companies may require employees to sign noncompete clauses which will impose limitations on an employee's interactions with stakeholders, and competitors.
A trade union (or labor union) is an organization of workers who have come together to achieve common goals such as protecting the integrity of its trade, improving safety standards, achieving higher pay and benefits such as health care and retirement, increasing the number of employees an employer assigns to complete the work, and better working conditions.The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labor contracts (collective bargaining) with employers. The most common purpose of these associations or unions is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment". This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing, and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies.
A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit or a nonprofit organization such as a business, nonprofit organization, or a government agency.
A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law for certain purposes. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. Corporations come in many different types but are usually divided by the law of the jurisdiction where they are chartered based on two aspects: by whether they can issue stock, or by whether they are formed to make a profit. Depending on the number of owners, a corporation can be classified as aggregate or sole.
A partnership is an arrangement where parties, known as business 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 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.
A limited liability company (LLC) is the US-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation. An LLC is not a corporation under state law; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners in many jurisdictions. LLCs are well known for the flexibility that they provide to business owners; depending on the situation, an LLC may elect to use corporate tax rules instead of being treated as a partnership, and, under certain circumstances, LLCs may be organized as not-for-profit. In certain U.S. states, businesses that provide professional services requiring a state professional license, such as legal or medical services, may not be allowed to form an LLC but may be required to form a similar entity called a professional limited liability company (PLLC).
A joint-stock company is a business entity in which shares of the company's stock can be bought and sold by shareholders. Each shareholder owns company stock in proportion, evidenced by their shares. Shareholders are able to transfer their shares to others without any effects to the continued existence of the company.
Incorporation is the formation of a new corporation. The corporation may be a business, a nonprofit organization, sports club, or a government of a new city or town.
A limited liability partnership (LLP) is a partnership in which some or all partners have limited liabilities. It therefore can exhibit elements of partnerships and corporations. In an LLP, each partner is not responsible or liable for another partner's misconduct or negligence. This is an important difference from the traditional partnership under the UK Partnership Act 1890, in which each partner has joint liability. In an LLP, some or all partners have a form of limited liability similar to that of the shareholders of a corporation. Unlike corporate shareholders, the partners have the right to manage the business directly. In contrast, corporate shareholders must elect a board of directors under the laws of various state charters. The board organizes itself and hires corporate officers who then have as "corporate" individuals the legal responsibility to manage the corporation in the corporation's best interest. An LLP also contains a different level of tax liability from that of a corporation.
A private limited company is any type of business entity in "private" ownership used in many jurisdictions, in contrast to a publicly listed company, with some differences from country to country. Examples include the LLC in the United States, private company limited by shares in the United Kingdom, GmbH in Germany, société à responsabilité limitée in France, and sociedad de responsabilidad limitada in the Spanish-speaking world. The benefit of having a private limited company is that there is limited liability. However, shares can only be sold to shareholders in the business, which means that it can be difficult to liquidate such a company.
A corporate tax, also called corporation tax or company tax, is a direct tax imposed by a jurisdiction on the income or capital of corporations or analogous legal entities. Many countries impose such taxes at the national level, and a similar tax may be imposed at state or local levels. The taxes may also be referred to as income tax or capital tax. Partnerships are generally not taxed at the entity level. A country's corporate tax may apply to:
Corporate law is the body of law governing the rights, relations, and conduct of persons, companies, organizations and businesses. The term refers to the legal practice of law relating to corporations, or to the theory of corporations. Corporate law often describes the law relating to matters which derive directly from the life-cycle of a corporation. It thus encompasses the formation, funding, governance, and death of a corporation.
A privately held company, private company, or close corporation is a corporation not owned by the government, non-governmental organizations and by a relatively small number of shareholders or company members, which does not offer or trade its company stock (shares) to the general public on the stock market exchanges, but rather the company's stock is offered, owned and traded or exchanged privately or over-the-counter. More ambiguous terms for a privately held company are closely held corporation, unquoted company, and unlisted company.
A limited partnership (LP) is a form of partnership similar to a general partnership except that while a general partnership must have at least two general partners (GPs), a limited partnership must have at least one GP and at least one limited partner. Limited partnerships are distinct from limited liability partnerships, in which all partners have limited liability.
A dual-listed company or DLC is a corporate structure in which two corporations function as a single operating business through a legal equalization agreement, but retain separate legal identities and stock exchange listings. Virtually all DLCs are cross-border, and have tax and other advantages for the corporations and their stockholders.
A gōdō gaisha (合同会社), or godo kaisha, abbreviated GK, is a type of business organization in Japan modeled after the American limited liability company (LLC), hence its nickname as the "Japanese LLC". It is a type of mochibun kaisha distinguished by offering limited liability for all investors.
A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common purpose and unite to achieve specific, declared goals. Companies take various forms, such as:
There are many ways in which a business may be owned under the legal system of England and Wales.
A for-profit corporation is an organization which aims to earn profit through its operations and is concerned with its own interests, unlike those of the public.
Stock is all of the shares into which ownership of a corporation is divided. In American English, the shares are collectively known as "stock". A single share of the stock represents fractional ownership of the corporation in proportion to the total number of shares. This typically entitles the stockholder to that fraction of the company's earnings, proceeds from liquidation of assets, or voting power, often dividing these up in proportion to the amount of money each stockholder has invested. Not all stock is necessarily equal, as certain classes of stock may be issued for example without voting rights, with enhanced voting rights, or with a certain priority to receive profits or liquidation proceeds before or after other classes of shareholders.
United Arab Emirates corporate law regulates the governance, finance and power of corporations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) through UAE law. Every emirate has its own basic corporate code.
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