A corporation “is an artificial person created by law, with most of the legal rights of a real

person. These include the rights to start and operate a business, to buy or sell property, to

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borrow money, to sue or be sued, and to enter into binding contracts”. Corporations make up 20 percent of all

businesses in the United States, but they account for almost 90 percent of the

revenue. Although some small businesses are incorporated, many corporations are extremely

large businesses—for example, Walmart, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and Home Depot.

Recent data show that only about one-half of the small business owners in the United States run

incorporated businesses.


Scott Shane, author of The Illusions of Entrepreneurship, argues

that small businesses that are incorporated have a much higher rate of success than sole

proprietorships, outperforming unincorporated small businesses in terms of profitability,

employment growth, sales growth, and other measures. [12] Shane maintains that being

incorporated may not make sense for “tiny little businesses” because the small amount of risk

may not be worth the complexity. However, Deborah Sweeney, incorporation expert for Intuit,

disagrees, saying that “even the smallest eBay business has a risk of being sued” because

shipping products around the country or the world can create legal problems if a shipment is

lost. Ultimately, it is the small business being successful that may be the biggest factor for the

owner to move from a sole proprietorship to a corporation.

Corporations: A Summary of Characteristics

Liability Taxes Advantages Disadvantages

Limited; multiple taxation

Limited liability

Skilled management team

Ease of raising capital

Easy to transfer ownership by

selling stock

Perpetual life

Legal-entity status

Economies of large-scale


Double taxation

Difficult and expensive to start

Individual stockholder has little control over


Financial disclosure

Lack of personal interest unless managers

are also stockholders

Credit limitations

Government regulation and increased




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