Sole Proprietorship: What It Is, Pros & Cons, Examples, Differences From an LLC

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date. Deciding whether to operate as sole proprietor can be a challenging choice. No, while a proprietor can take money out of their business at any time, they can’t have a salary like an employee, and won’t receive a W-2 at the end of the year. You can do nothing and you’ll automatically be considered a sole proprietor. But there are some other aspects to owning a small business that are worth nailing down before you get started. The Small Business Administration specifies that all credit reports received from any source should be carefully reviewed to ensure that all relevant personal information is correct.

Because the business cannot sell stock, and obtaining credit would depend on Amelia’s personal credit score, obtaining much-needed capital may be difficult. People who are self-employed do not have the advantage of having taxes withheld from their paychecks to cover their tax obligations at the end of the year. Many sole proprietors pay self-employment taxes each quarter, as estimated tax payments.

  • Under incorporated structures such as LLCs, on the other hand, claimants may only access the business’ assets.
  • Even when a fictitious name is used, it does not create an entity separate from the business’ owner.
  • Our mission is to empower readers with the most factual and reliable financial information possible to help them make informed decisions for their individual needs.
  • As a sole proprietor, you own 100% of the business and get to make all the decisions.
  • Although, in this situation, there is no distinction between the business and owner, it is import for the business owner to maintain good recordkeeping practices.
  • This means that all profits, losses, debts, taxes and other legal obligations are assumed entirely by the owner, also known as unlimited liability.

An individual considering starting a business may wonder how to start a sole proprietorship. Unlike limited liability companies or corporations, a sole proprietorship does not have to be registered with the state. In fact, starting a sole proprietorship is so easy, many people have such a business without even realizing it. For instance, a freelance graphic artist working from home technically owns a sole proprietorship. As a sole proprietor, you’ll pay income and self-employment tax on the net income of your business.

The sole proprietor personally inspires and encourages staff to be aware of company goals and objectives, fostering organizational loyalty among them. Even though a single proprietorship has a customer care service, the firm’s owner would be immediately informed because employees report directly to the single proprietor. The sole proprietorship opens up many possibilities for the owner to interact with most of his clients and customers. In partnership with three expert business owners, the PayPal Bootcamp includes practical checklists and a short video loaded with tips to help take your business to the next level. The advantages above mean accounting for sole proprietors is generally straightforward. Sole proprietors may only need to record cash flow coming in and out of their solo business, but this can become more complex depending on income and number of staff members.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship:

If you work in IT, software development or a related profession, you may need this coverage to protect your bottom line, and to qualify for contracts. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. To avoid any pressure come tax season, contribute self-employment taxes which are 12.4% for Social security and 2.9% for Medicare.

All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other temporary accounts professional. Sole proprietors can use their personal Social Security numbers to identify their businesses, if they have no employees. After choosing a name, it is important to make sure the name is not already being used. Additionally, most businesses must be registered with the city or county in which they operate.


Someone who is self-employed might work as a sole proprietor, an independent contractor, or in a partnership. If the sole proprietor is set in their ways, the business would be operated using methods that may not suit contemporary realities. Other forms of businesses encourage innovation because of shareholders’ different backgrounds and experiences. A sole proprietorship usually dies with the owner and cannot continue even if the owner wants it to. This lack of continuity affects not only the business itself but its customers as well. However, it is difficult to deny that when a good and hardworking team has their eyes set on a goal, they usually reach it.

How confident are you in your long term financial plan?

There is no sharing arrangement in a sole proprietorship since the sole proprietor takes all the business profits after paying for production costs. As a different legal entity, the business will need to change their contracts and bank accounts. Depending on the state and industry they’re in, they may need new licenses, a new employer identification number (EIN) and new payroll, too. If you want to sell a stake in the business – which can be a popular way to generate capital – you’ll need to change your structure. It’s the same if you want to bring in family members or a business partner with special skills.

Advantages and disadvantages of a sole proprietorship

Although, in this situation, there is no distinction between the business and owner, it is import for the business owner to maintain good recordkeeping practices. As a sole proprietor, you’ll report your business income and expenses on the Schedule C form of your personal income tax return. You’ll pay federal and state income tax on your business profits, and you’ll also pay self-employment taxes.

Aside from legitimizing a side hustle, sole proprietorships can help you ease into business ownership—while retaining the ability to scale if and when you’re ready. Filing taxes as a sole proprietor requires you to fill out the standard tax Form 1040 for individual taxes and Schedule C, which reports the profits and loss of your business. The amount of taxes you owe will be based on the combined income of both Form 1040 and Schedule C. If you have employees, there will be other forms to fill out. To start a sole proprietorship, you generally have to launch your business. Depending on your business and local regulations, you may need to apply for a permit or license with your city, county, or state.

If the business can’t pay its debt, the creditors can take action against any business owner.³

Forming a partnership can help take your growth to the next level. However, doing this can create extra legal work for the entrepreneur. Many entrepreneurs start as sole proprietors and then form a partnership after collaborating with another entrepreneur later. Business analysts may advise sole traders to form a limited company in order to access greater levels of financing, for example for expansion plans. This can limit their personal liability, and business lenders may be more inclined to co-operate with a limited company. It can also be the case that within certain industries it is easier to secure work if presenting potential business partners with a limited company structure.

Pros and cons of a sole proprietorship business

She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses. One unnamed top creator was paid $5 million for six hours of work, according to The Information. Proprietors cannot sell shares, or interest, in their business to raise money.

To be successful, proprietors must be “good enough” at the various aspects of their business they have control over. With over a decade of editorial experience, Rob Watts breaks down complex topics for small businesses that want to grow and succeed. His work has been featured in outlets such as Keypoint Intelligence, FitSmallBusiness and PCMag. Julia is a writer in New York and started covering tech and business during the pandemic.

sole proprietorship

While tax simplicity can be an advantage for sole proprietorships, it can also be a disadvantage in terms of flexibility because all business income must be reported as regular income in the year it was earned. Incorporated companies have much more flexibility in terms of how and when the owners are paid. Sole proprietorships are the most popular business structure because they’re extremely simple and affordable to establish due to minimal government oversight. In fact, the majority of US businesses are sole proprietors which makes them a great first step to becoming an entrepreneur.

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business owned and run by one person, making it one of the simplest business structures available. When someone initially sets up a small business, develops a freelance role, or starts a side hustle, they generally choose a sole proprietorship. A person who does business for himself is engaged in the operation of a sole proprietorship. Anyone who does business without formally creating a business organization is a sole proprietor.