Although forms of business ownership vary by country and local government, there are several generic forms of business ownership:
Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person. The owner may operate on their own or may employ others. The owner of the business has total and unlimited personal liability of the debts incurred by the business.
Partnership: A partnership is a form of business in which two or more people operate for the common goal of making profit. Each partner has total and unlimited personal liability of the debts incurred by the partnership. There are three types of partnerships: general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships.
Corporation: A business corporation is a for-profit, limited liability entity that has a separate legal personality from its members. A corporation is owned by multiple shareholders and is overseen by a board of directors, which hires the business's managerial staff.
Cooperative: Often referred to as a "Co-Op business" or "Co-Op", a cooperative is a for-profit, limited liability entity that differs from corporations in that it has members, as opposed to shareholders, who share decision-making authority. Cooperatives typically fall into three types: consumer cooperatives, producer cooperatives and worker cooperatives. Cooperatives are fundamental to the ideology of economic democracy.