A business (also known as enterprise or firm) is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or
both to consumers.Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit or state-owned. A business owned by multiple individuals may be referred to as a company, although that term also has a more precise meaning.
The etymology of "business" relates to the state of being busy either as an individual or society as a whole, doing commercially viable and profitable work. The term "business" has at least three usages, depending on the scope — the singular usage to mean a particular organization; the generalized usage to refer to a particular market sector, "the music business" and compound forms such as agribusiness; and the broadest meaning, which encompasses all activity by the community of suppliers of goods and services. However, the exact definition of business, like much else in the philosophy of business, is a matter of debate and complexity of meanings.
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 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 government-owned or privately-owned, and corporations can organize either for-profit or not-for-profit. A privately-owned, for-profit corporation is owned by shareholders who elect a board of directors to direct the corporation and hire its managerial staff. A privately-owned, for-profit corporation can be either privately held or publicly held.
Cooperative: Often referred to as a "co-op", a cooperative is a limited liability business that can organize for-profit or not-for-profit. A 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.
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