We look at the different types of Business Ownerships.
A sole proprietorship is a type of unregistered business entity that is owned, managed and controlled by one person. Sole proprietorship’s are one of the most common forms of business in India, used by most micro and small businesses operating in the unorganised sectors. Proprietorships are very easy to start and have very minimal regulatory compliance requirement for started and operating. However, after the startup phase, proprietorship’s do not offer the promoter a host of benefits such as limited liability proprietorship, corporate status, separate legal entity, independent existence, transferability, perpetual existence – which are desirable features for any business. Therefore, proprietorship registration is suited only for unorganised, small businesses that will remain small and/or have a limited period of existence.
There is no mechanism provided by the Government of India for the registration of a Proprietorship. Therefore, the existence of a proprietorship must be established through tax registrations and other business registrations that a business is required to have as per the rules and regulations. For instance, VAT or Service Tax or GST Registration can be obtained in the name of the Proprietor to establish that the Proprietor is operating a business as a sole proprietorship. Thus, all the registrations for a proprietorship would be in the name of the Proprietor, making the Proprietor personally liable for all the liabilities of the Proprietorship.
A Partnership Firm is a popular form of business constitution for businesses that are owned, managed and controlled by an Association of People for profit. Partnership firms are relatively easy to start are is prevalent amongst small and medium sized businesses in the unorganized sectors. With the introduction of Limited Liability Partnerships in India, Partnership Firms are fast losing their prevalence due to the added advantages offered by a Limited Liability Partnership.
There are two types of Partnership firms, registered and un-registered Partnership firm. It is not compulsory to register a Partnership firm; however, it is advisable to register a Partnership firm due to the added advantages. Partnership firms are created by drafting a Partnership deed amongst the Partners and IndiaFilings can help start a registered or un-registered Partnership firm in India.
One Person Company (OPC)
The concept of One Person Company in India was introduced through the Companies Act, 2013 to support entrepreneurs who on their own are capable of starting a venture by allowing them to create a single person economic entity. One of the biggest advantages of a One Person Company (OPC) is that there can be only one member in a OPC, while a minimum of two members are required for incorporating and maintaining a Private Limited Company or a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). Similar to a Company, a One Person Company is a separate legal entity from its promoter, offering limited liability protection to its sole shareholder, while having continuity of business and being easy to incorporate.
Though a One Person Company allows a lone Entrepreneur to operate a corporate entity with limited liability protection, a OPC does have a few limitations. For instance, every One Person Company (OPC) must nominate a nominee Director in the MOA and AOA of the company – who will become the owner of the OPC in case the sole Director is disabled. Also, a One Person Company must be converted into a Private Limited Company if it crosses an annual turnover of Rs.2 crores and must file audited financial statements with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs at the end of each Financial Year like all types of Companies. Therefore, it is important for the Entrepreneur to carefully consider the features of a One Person Company prior to incorporation.
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) was introduced in India by way of the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008. The basic premise behind the introduction of Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) is to provide a form of business entity that is simple to maintain while providing limited liability to the owners. Since, its introduction in 2010, LLPs have been well received with over 1 lakhs registrations so far until September, 2014.
The main advantage of a Limited Liability Partnership over a traditional partnership firm is that in a LLP, one partner is not responsible or liable for another partner’s misconduct or negligence. A LLP also provides limited liability protection for the owners from the debts of the LLP. Therefore, all partners in a LLP enjoy a form of limited liability protection for each individual’s protection within the partnership, similar to that of the shareholders of a private limited company. However, unlike private limited company shareholder, the partners of a LLP have the right to manage the business directly.
LLP is one of the easiest form of business to incorporate and manage in India. With an easy incorporation process and simple compliance formalities, LLP is preferred by Professionals, Micro and Small businesses that are family owned or closely-held. Since, LLPs are not capable of issuing equity shares, LLP should be used for any business that has plans for raising equity funds during its lifecycle.
Private Limited Company
Private Limited Company is the most prevalent and popular type of corporate legal entity in India. Private limited company registration is governed by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Companies Act, 2013 and the Companies Incorporation Rules, 2014. To register a private limited company, a minimum of two shareholders and two directors are required. A natural person can be both a director and shareholder, while a corporate legal entity can only be a shareholder. Further, foreign nationals, foreign corporate entities or NRIs are allowed to be Directors and/or Shareholders of a Company with Foreign Direct Investment, making it the preferred choice of entity for foreign promoters.
Unique features of a private limited company like limited liability protection to shareholders, ability to raise equity funds, separate legal entity status and perpetual existence make it the most recommended type of business entity for millions of small and medium sized businesses that are family owned or professionally managed.
Public Limited Company
A limited company grants limited liability to its owners and management. Being a public company allows a firm to sell shares to investors this is benificial in raising capital. A minimum of three Directors are required for establishing a Public Limited Company and it has more stringent regulatory requirements compared to a Private Limited Company.
Public Limited Companies are those types of companies where minimum number of members is seven and there is no cap on the maximum number of members. A public limited company has most of the characteristics of a private limited company. A public limited company has all the advantages of private limited company and the ability to have any number of members, ease in transfer of shareholding and more transparency. Identifying marks of a public limited company are name, number of members, shares, formation, management, directors and meetings, etc.,
Nidhi Company is a company registered under the Companies Act, 2013, which has a sole objective of cultivating the habit of thrift and savings amongst its members. Nidhi companies are allowed to take deposit from its members and lend to its members only. Therefore, the funds contributed for a Nidhi company are only from its members (shareholders) and used only by the shareholders of the Nidhi Company.
Nidhi company is a class of NBFCs and RBI is empowered to issue directions to them in matters relating to their deposit acceptance activities. However, in recognition of the fact that these Nidhis deal with their shareholder-members only, RBI has exempted the notified Nidhis from the core provisions of the RBI Act and other directions applicable to NBFCs. Therefore, Nidhi Company is an ideal entity to take deposit from and lend to a specific group of people.
Producer Company is a company registered under the Companies Act, 2013, which has the objective of production, harvesting, procurement, grading, pooling, handling, marketing, selling, export of primary produce of the Members or import of goods or services for their benefit. Produce are things that have been produced or grown, especially by farming. Therefore, a Producer Company deals primarily with agriculture and post harvest processing activities.
Over 85% of the Farmers in India are small and marginal farmers with land holdings of less than 2 hectares. This fragmentation in farmers and farm lands, leads to disorganization and it is not viable for Indian farmers to adopt the latest technologies. By organization of these farmers into producer companies, economies of scale can be unlocked and the livelihood of farmers can be improved. Thus the concept of producer company is aimed at empowering farmers by creating clusters of farmers organized as a Producer Company.
Section 8 Company
Section 8 Company is named Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013, which pertains to a established ‘for promoting commerce, art, science, sports, education, research, social welfare, religion, charity, protection of environment or any such other object’, provided the profits, if any, or other income is applied for promoting only the objects of the company and no dividend is paid to its members. Therefore, Section 8 Company or Section 25 Company is a company registered under the Companies Act, 2013 for charitable or not-for-profit purposes.
A Section 8 Company is similar to a Trust or Society; expect, a section 8 Company is registered under the Central Government’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Trusts and Societies are registered under State Government regulations. A section 8 company has various advantages when compared to Trust or Society like improved recognition and better legal standing. Section 8 company also has higher credibility amongst donors, Government departments and other stakeholders.