Business Partnership

A well-forged business partnership can be the catalyst for growth, innovation, and sustained success. Learn more about business partnerships here, including their types and how they work. 

What is a Business Partnership?

A business partnership refers to a collaborative relationship between two or more individuals or entities with the shared goal of managing a business. It is a legal agreement where the involved parties pool their resources, skills, and expertise to achieve common objectives, often with the aim of mutual benefit and success.

When referring to a business partnership, the word “firm” is also often used. The partnership itself is known as the “principle,” while the partners are sometimes called the “agents.”

How is a Business Partnership Established?

Establishing a business partnership involves a series of deliberations, negotiations, and legal formalities

The first step is a comprehensive exploration of compatibility and shared goals. Once a common ground is identified, a partnership agreement is drafted, delineating the roles, responsibilities, and contributions of each party. Legal documentation, often overseen by legal professionals, ensures that the partnership adheres to regulatory standards and safeguards the interests of all involved. Of course, this legal agreement will be signed by all partners. 

How Does a Business Partnership Work?

Unlike a corporation, a partnership does not create a separate legal entity; instead, it pools the resources, expertise, and efforts of its members to achieve common objectives.

Key stakeholders in a business partnership include general partners, who actively participate in the management and decision-making, and limited partners, who contribute financially but typically have a more passive role. This flexibility allows for a diverse range of partnership structures, from general partnerships suitable for small businesses to limited partnerships often favoured by larger ventures.

Tax implications in a business partnership differ from those of corporations as well. The partnership itself is not taxed; instead, profits and losses are passed through to the individual partners, who report them on their personal tax returns. This pass-through taxation provides a certain degree of simplicity and flexibility, aligning with the collaborative nature of partnerships.

Types of Business Partnerships

Business partnerships come in various forms, allowing flexibility to suit the specific needs and preferences of the parties involved:

  • General Partnership: This has a simple structure where all partners share equal responsibility and liability.
  • Limited Partnership (LP): LPs consist of general and limited partners, offering flexibility in management involvement and liability.
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP): This structure combines aspects of partnerships and corporations, providing limited liability for all partners.

Understanding the unique characteristics of each type empowers businesses to select the partnership structure that aligns with their goals and operational preferences.

Business Partners vs Shareholders

While both business partners and shareholders are stakeholders in a company, there are fundamental differences in their roles, responsibilities, and the nature of their involvement in the business. Here are the key distinctions between a business partner and a shareholder:

Business Partner

Partners typically share both the ownership and managerial responsibilities, contributing to the strategic direction and daily management of the company. Business partners share profits and losses as well, as outlined in the legal agreement they signed. Moreover, general partners are personally responsible for the debts and legal obligations of the business, although LP and LLP gain some level of protection. 


Shareholders, on the other hand, own shares in a company but may not have direct involvement in its daily operations or decision-making. They exercise control indirectly by voting on matters such as the election of the board of directors and significant corporate decisions. Often, their influence is affected by the number of shares they own. Finally, shareholders are not personally liable for the company's debts beyond their investment.

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