Forms of Business Organization


One of the first decisions that you will have to make as a business owner is how the business should be structured. All businesses must adopt some legal configuration that defines the rights and liabilities of participants in the business’s ownership, control, personal liability, life span, and financial structure. This decision will have long-term implications, so you will want to consult with an accountant and attorney to help you select the form of ownership that is right for you.

In making a choice, you will want to take into account many factors. The United States Small Business Administration provides a great overview of the different types of business structures available to entrepreneurs.

The West Virginia Secretary of State One Stop Business Portal also offers information on business structure. In general, there are a handful of general business structures available to entrepreneurs.

These structures include:

  • Corporation (profit or non-profit)​
  • ​Benefit Corporation (profit only)
  • Cooperative Association (agriculture or broadband)
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • ​Limited Partnership (LP)
  • ​Professional Limited Liability Company (PLLC)
  • Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)​
  • Voluntary Association
  • Business Trust
  • ​Unincorporated Nonprofit Association


Compare and Contrast Business Structures

WV Secretary of State
WV Secretary of State Seal

To help entrepreneurs quickly view the different aspects of each business structure, the West Virginia Secretary of State offers a Business Structure Comparison Chart. The chart shows a quick checklist of the aspects and how they apply to each type of structure.


New Business Startup Wizard

Are you still unsure which business structure to choose? Entrepreneurs can also use the West Virginia Secretary of State’s New Business Startup Wizard to help guide them in the right direction when selecting a business structure to suit your business needs. The Office of the Secretary of State provides advice on the type of business structures available, however, they cannot advise you on which structure to form.

Legal Disclaimer: This tool is intended as a guide only and is not offered as professional legal or tax advice. We strongly recommend that entrepreneurs consult with an attorney and/or certified public accountant to determine the best business structure to choose when forming a business.