Business is the activity of making one’s living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (goods and services). Simply put, it is “any activity or enterprise entered into for profit. It does not mean it is a company, a corporation, partnership, or have any such formal organization, but it can range from a street peddler to General Motors.” The term is also often used colloquially (but not by lawyers or public officials) to refer to a company, but this article will not deal with that sense of the word.
A business name structure does not separate the business entity from the owner, which means that the owner of the business is responsible and liable for all debts incurred by the business. If the business acquires debts, the creditors can go after the owner’s personal possessions. A business structure does not allow for corporate tax rates. The proprietor is personally taxed on all income from the business.
Anyone carrying on an activity that earns them a profit is doing business or running a business, and perhaps this is why there is a misconception that business and company is the same thing. A company on the other hand, is a separate legal entity and provides for limited liability as well as corporate tax rates. A company structure is more complicated and expensive to set up, but offers more protection and benefits for the owner.
Companies are also sometimes distinguished for legal and regulatory purposes between public companies and private companies. Public companies are companies whose shares can be publicly traded, often (although not always) on a stock exchange which imposes listing requirements/Listing Rules as to the issued shares, the trading of shares and future issue of shares to help bolster the reputation of the exchange or particular market of an exchange. Private companies do not have publicly traded shares, and often contain restrictions on transfers of shares. In some jurisdictions, private companies have maximum numbers of shareholders.