At Duncan, Linton LLP we have been helping entrepreneurs launch their businesses for over 160 years. We take great pride in the strong relationships we build with our business clients, and the personalized approach we are able to take with each matter.
The corporate lawyers in our Business Law Group work closely with each of our clients to understand their goals and objectives, proactively plan business operations, minimize risk, and prepare for the growth of their businesses. We understand that running a business is a complex, multi-faceted endeavor. As such, the lawyers in our Business Law Group also regularly consult with the lawyers in our other practice areas including Wills and Estates, Employment and Real Estate, to ensure all legal aspects of a business are attended to, and all potential risks are identified and managed from a comprehensive perspective
Business Structures in Ontario
It is important for business owners to choose the business structure that is most appropriate for the nature of their venture, and what they hope to accomplish. It is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable and trusted business lawyer as early in the process as possible to understand your options and determine what business structure may be best for you.
There are three main legal structures under which businesses in Ontario can operate:
- Sole proprietorship;
- Partnership; and
Each of these options have distinct benefits and drawbacks, and important legal, tax, and other implications that can have a long-term impact on your business.
The most straight forward business structure is a sole proprietorship. Many small businesses in Ontario are organized as such. As the name suggests, sole proprietorships involve one proprietor (or owner) who makes all major decisions vis-à-vis the business and takes on the sole legal responsibility for all contractual relationships, debts, risks, and other business obligations. The sole owner also enjoys all benefits of the business. Sole proprietorships are unincorporated.
Partnerships are another common business structure in Ontario. Unlike a sole proprietorship, a partnership involves a contractual relationship between two or more partners who agree to run a business together. Partnerships can be structured in multiple ways with varying levels of liability and risk for the partners.
Incorporating a business is a common practice in Ontario. A corporation is considered a “person” and is a legal entity separate from the shareholders (i.e. owners) of the corporation. The shareholders own the corporation. However, as its own legal person, a corporation can own property, incur liabilities, and pursue legal action in its own name, entirely separately from the owners. Any rights, obligations, or liabilities of the corporation are separate from those of the shareholders.
Factors to Consider When Planning your Business
All of the business structures common in Ontario have pros and cons. Some factors to consider include:
- Number of owners;
- Tax planning;
- Income splitting; and
- Estate planning.
Given the serious legal and financial implications of each available business structure, it is best to consult with a business lawyer before determining whether you should function as a sole proprietorship, or a partnership, or whether you should incorporate your business.
In addition to advising business owners on organizational structure, the experienced and knowledgeable corporate lawyers at Duncan, Linton LLP regularly advise clients on effective day-to-day business practices and long-term planning. With our guidance, clients can increase productivity, maximize potential earnings, and increase their odds of long-term success.
For Trusted Guidance on Planning your Business Contact Duncan, Linton LLP in Waterloo
The Business Law Group at Duncan, Linton LLP in Waterloo, provides a full spectrum of corporate law services for new, existing, and evolving businesses. Our corporate lawyers regularly help clients navigate the risks and obligations of starting a business, the day-to-day functioning of their enterprise, and in planning for the future. We have over 160 years of experience assisting businesses of all sizes and complexities. Call us at (519) 886-3340 or contact us online for a consultation.