Business structures and types

There are a number of structures that you can choose from when starting or expanding your business.

Four main structures

The four main business structures commonly used by small businesses are:

  • Sole trader: an individual trading on their own
  • Partnership: an association of people or entities running a business together, but not as a company
  • Trust: an entity that holds property or income for the benefit of others
  • Company: a legal entity separate from its shareholders.

Choosing a structure

When deciding upon a structure for your business, choose the one that best suits your business needs and remember that there are advantages and disadvantages for each. Choosing your business structure is an important decision that can determine the licenses you will need to operate, so you need to investigate each option carefully.

Obtaining legal or other professional advice can help you understand your own particular circumstances. Speak to your accountant or use our Advisor Finder tool when deciding on your business structure and type. It is important to determine your business structure and type of business before you register a business or company as the steps may differ.

Types of businesses

As well as deciding on the structure of your business, you will also need to consider the type of business you want to start or when expanding and growing your existing business.

There a number of different types of businesses, and examples may include:

Read our Industry Factsheets for more detailed industry information when researching the type of business you are looking to start or expand into.

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