• Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is a for-profit business owned by one person. The owner may operate on his or her own or may employ others. The owner of the business has unlimited liability for the debts incurred by the business.
• Partnership: A partnership is a form of for-profit business owned by two or more people. In most forms of partnerships, each partner has unlimited liability for the debts incurred by the business. The three typical classifications of partnerships are general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships.
• Corporation: A corporation is a limited liability business that has a separate legal personality from its members. Corporations can be either privately-owned or government-owned, and privately-owned corporations can organize either for-profit or not-for-profit. A privately-owned, for-profit corporation can either be privately held or publicly held. A for-profit corporation’s shareholders elect a board of directors to direct the corporation and hire its managerial staff.
• Cooperative: Often referred to as a “co-op”, a cooperative is a limited liability business that can be organized for-profit or not-for-profit. A for-profit cooperative differs from a for-profit corporation in that it has members, as opposed to shareholders, who share decision-making authority. Cooperatives are typically classified as either consumer cooperatives or worker cooperatives. Cooperatives are fundamental to the ideology of economic democracy.