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Owning a sole proprietorship can be a rewarding venture—but what kind of businesses are good examples? A sole proprietorship, by definition, is a business where the financial and other liabilities directly pass to the owner. Whereas corporations and LLCs keep owner liability low, sole proprietorships include more risks.
If you’re considering starting a sole proprietorship, read on. These examples will illustrate which kinds of businesses are right for sole proprietors, like landscape companies, consultants, grocery stores, and freelance writing businesses.
Here are our best examples of sole proprietorships in 2022.
What makes a sole proprietorship different from other business types?
You’re undoubtedly familiar with mom-and-pop shops, even if your hometown is populated with major chains and big box stores. When you own a sole proprietorship, you’re agreeing to take on the business’s debt and legal liability for yourself.
When you incorporate a business, or establish a limited liability company, your business and personal finances are separate. Your personal credit typically won’t be affected if your company is late on a credit card payment or has other financial issues. However, you’ll need to pay certain fees and meet certain requirements, such as creating a partnership agreement or articles of incorporation.
Whether a sole proprietorship is right for you typically depends on the type of business you want to own, and whether you can afford to absorb financial liability for your business.
10 types of sole proprietorship businesses
There are many examples of sole proprietorships. Generally, these companies revolve around one person’s work. Sometimes businesses start off as sole proprietorships and incorporate later, when they need to hire additional employees or simply want to separate their business and personal finances.
A single-location bakery is usually a good sole proprietorship—it’s typically stable work, with low potential liability. You’ll need to have insurance and establish a DBA (doing business as) name if you plan to operate your bakery under any name except for your own legal name. If you get to the point where you want to add more locations, hire multiple employees, or otherwise expand the business, it’s wise to incorporate or establish an LLC.
Consultants are often freelancers who offer their expertise to other business owners. For example, you might establish a consulting business to help restaurants. This often involves reviewing finances, providing marketing and advertising advice, and more. Again, if the business becomes more than one person can handle, limiting your liability by incorporating is usually the next step.
Freelance writers typically do not have the same kind of risk that many other business models do. They often write about multiple subjects in varying formats, from blog posts to press releases. Often, freelance writers are hired as contractors for specific companies.
Grocery stores are similar to bakeries, although you’ll probably need to incorporate if you expand to more than one location. As long as you have insurance to cover any accidents, this is a great model for a sole proprietorship.
While there are corporate cleaning services available, many housekeepers contract directly with their clients. This is usually a low-risk type of business, especially if the client has their own insurance.
Similarly, landscaping companies with few or no employees can be sole proprietorships. The owner may contract with businesses or individuals to take care of their gardens.
Many personal trainers work out of gyms, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for contract work. Most individual trainers go to their clients’ homes or work out of their own. Be sure to invest in good liability insurance, in case of an accident.
Thinking about taking your photography skills into your community? Photography is often a low-risk business that won’t harm your personal finances if something goes wrong. It’s wise to invest in insurance, but unless you become wildly popular, there may not be a benefit to incorporating.
Everyone needs a plumber at least once in their life—and depending on where they live and your maintenance schedule, they might need one more frequently. Be sure to invest in liability insurance in case any repairs go wrong and damage the owner’s building.
Many people need help understanding challenging subjects, whether that’s science, math, English, or other subjects. Tutoring is a low-risk business, with very little benefit to incorporating.
Is a sole proprietorship right for my business?
Whether a sole proprietorship is right for you depends on your type of business and the risk involved. If insurance will cover any potential issues, like damage to a building or accidents on your property, there isn’t much risk to establishing a sole proprietorship.
If, however, you’re more growth-minded—or your business is unusually risky, like healthcare professions—you’ll probably want to investigate LLC or corporate business structures. These structures ensure that your personal finances remain safe, even if something goes wrong.
Not sure what kind of business structure is right for you? Reach out to people in your industry and ask how they handle liability issues. If the majority are opting for another type of business structure, you might need to investigate other options. Whichever business structure you choose, it’s always smart to research what works for other successful business owners.
Get the small business banking help you need
Even if you’re a sole proprietor, there’s no need to do everything on your own. A great small business banking product can provide you with the tools and financing you need to support your trade.
NorthOne offers small business bank accounts, plus tools and services to set you up for success. Whether your business is one of these sole proprietor examples or you’re in another industry altogether, we can help your company take off. Reach out today to learn more about our services, or sign up for a business bank account.