Choosing a business structure is a decision that impacts your business legally, financially, and personally. With that in mind, it’s one to make carefully and, hopefully, with guidance from business lawyers. Today, we’ll tell you about one of four primary options for business structures: sole proprietorship.

This type of structure is an ideal fit for some, while it may not be suitable for others, and we’ll dig into those details today. However, before you choose this business structure over another, let’s discuss the pros and cons of a sole proprietorship and other things to be aware of.

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is a form of business where one person is both the owner and operator. A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business. It is owned and used by a single individual: the sole proprietor, who is responsible for all of the company’s debts and obligations. 

Right off the bat, one benefit of this business structure is there are very few legal requirements to be met to establish one.   

Individuals can operate the business under a name other than their full first and last legal name. The only legal requirement is registering any business or trade name with the secretary of state’s office. Notably, a sole proprietorship is the most common form of business structure in the United States. 

Pros and Cons of a Sole Proprietorship

That said, it’s vital to remember that forming any business structure comes with some liabilities and risks for the owner. Therefore, you should be aware of these issues before deciding if this is your proper business structure. 

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Here are a few advantages of a sole proprietorship: 

  • Simplicity

A sole proprietorship is reasonably easy to set up and operate—there’s no need to file articles of incorporation or adhere to complex corporate governance rules. With a sole proprietorship, it’s just you.  

  • Flexibility

When you own a sole proprietorship, you have total control over the business and can make decisions quickly and easily. In addition, the sole proprietor gets full management authority with minimal formalities. 

  • Tax advantages

Sole proprietorships are taxed as sole proprietors. This means the owner reports business profits and losses on their tax return. This can be particularly advantageous because the owner may be eligible for personal tax deductions and credits unavailable to corporations. 

  • Lower costs

A sole proprietorship is straightforward to create and it’s easy to terminate. Usually, it has lower startup and operating costs than a corporation, as no legal fees or charges come with forming this corporate structure. 

  • Personal involvement in the business

When you own a sole proprietorship, you have direct involvement in the business’s day-to-day operations and a personal stake in its success. Understandably, this can be a big motivating factor and a source of pride.

Visit the following article to read why including a lawyer on your startup team is smart.

Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

While a sole proprietorship has some advantages, it also has some disadvantages to consider before landing on this business structure. 

Here are a few disadvantages of a sole proprietorship: 

1. Unlimited liability

You face total personal liability for business obligations when you choose this business structure. This means you’re personally liable for all debts and obligations of the business.

 If someone sues your business or it incurs debt, your assets may be at risk, including your:

  • Home
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Vehicles
  • Inventory


2. Difficulty obtaining funding

You will be in a challenging position and have a limited ability to raise capital for your business. 

For example, a sole proprietorship may have more difficulty securing financing than a corporation, as lenders and investors may hesitate to extend credit or invest in a company without limited liability protection. 

3. Limited lifespan

A sole proprietorship has a limited lifespan—it ends when the owner dies or if they decide to sell the business. This can make it tough to plan for the business’s long-term future. 

4. Difficulty attracting talent

You might need help attracting talented employees. Often, the business may need more resources or the reputation of a giant corporation. 

5. Limited growth potential

A sole proprietorship has limited growth potential, as the owner is usually the only business capital source. This can make expanding the business or taking on larger projects difficult. 

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FAQs About Sole Proprietorship

You might find the answers below if you still have questions about whether this is the optimal business structure for you.

What is in a sole proprietorship?

A sole proprietorship is a business one individual owns and operates. The owner has absolute control over their business operations and receives all of the profits generated by the company.

Do I need to register a sole proprietorship?

No, you don’t need to register a sole proprietorship. However, you may need specific permits or licenses from local authorities to operate the business legally. Additionally, you must register any business or trade name with the secretary of state’s office. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of sole proprietorship?

Every business structure has its pros and cons, including when it comes to business income tax and more. The draws of a sole proprietorship include the ease of setting up and operating your business and potential tax benefits. However, you also face unlimited personal liability and limited growth potential with this business structure.


Overall, a sole proprietorship can be the right choice for those who want to start a small business and are comfortable taking on all responsibility. 

Advantages include simplicity, flexibility, and tax benefits. However, remember that forming a sole proprietorship also has some disadvantages. These include unlimited liability for the owner, difficulty obtaining funding, and limited lifespan. 

If you’re eager to talk more about determining the appropriate business structure for you, contact the team at Contiguglia Law in Denver today. We specialize in business law and are here to answer any questions. We look forward to helping you maximize your business potential and ensure long-term success. 

Check back soon to read parts two, three, and four of this series.

And remember: My book “Don’t Skip the Legal: The Startup Guide for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners” covers these and other legal topics relating to business structure and much more in greater detail. It’s available on Amazon—buy your copy today!