Business & Finance Entrepreneurship-startup

Differences between a Business Name (Sole-Proprietorship / Partnership) and a Limited Liabil

Anybody who is considering starting a business must consider what type of business structure is needed for his or her particular situation. In Kenya there are three types of structures that one can use to start their business.

1. An LLC, or Limited Liability Company

2. A sole proprietorship

3. A Partnership

A Sole-proprietorship and a Partnership are registered through the same manner (Form BN/2) with the exception that a partnership has more than one owner and although not necessary, entrepreneurs are advised to register a partnership deed as well. In this article all references to sole-proprietorship also include partnership.

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each structure is important when deciding which one you want to use for your company.

Legal Protection

The first major difference between a sole proprietorship and an LLC is the legal protection that each affords their owners against lawsuits. In a sole proprietorship, the individual owner(s) and the business are one and the same. This means that if someone sues the business, then the personal assets of the owner(s)-car, home, etc.-can be seized in any judgment against the company.

On the other hand, if your company is organized as an LLC, the company is a separate entity from the owner. If a person sues the company, only the assets of the company can be used to pay any legal judgment. The personal assets of the owner are safe.

Of course, this protection is limited. If the owner is personally negligent for wrongdoing by the company, then the liability protection is not going to stop victims of his or her negligence from being able to come after their personal assets.


Most new businesses require some type of capital to get started. Because a sole proprietorship is founded on the name of the person who owns the company, any credit and debt is the sole responsibility of that person. If the business fails and loans cannot be repaid, the owner of the company is completely liable for that bad debt. With an LLC, the business is a separate entity from the owner. This means that if the business should fail, in most cases, the debt would not be the sole responsibility of the owner.

In addition, how a business applies for credit and financing differs with each business entity. With a sole proprietorship, the credit history of the owner is the sole basis in determining whether the business is a good credit risk. If the owner has bad credit, getting the business financed is going to be much more difficult.

Because an LLC is separate from the owner, getting financed can be easier. Especially after the business has been in existence for a few months, many banks will begin to look at the credit record of the company to determine its credit-worthiness. This is obviously a major advantage to the business owner.

Legal Requirements

Another major difference between these two business entities is the requirements to maintain the legal status. Because a sole proprietorship is a business based on the name of the owner, no special fees are typically required. While the business will probably still need to obtain a business license in the area in which it is doing business, the company will not have to file annual returns every year declaring its status.

Cost of Registration

A sole-proprietorship is usually cheaper to register than an LLC. We charge KES 2,499 to register a sole-proprietorship and KES. 16,999 to register a company. Our charges for the optional partnership deed are KES 3,999


A sole-proprietorship being owned by one person files taxes under Individual Income Tax and the PIN certificate used is usually that of the owner. A partnership usually has its own PIN certificate but the rates of Income Tax are usually the same as that of a sole-proprietorship. An LLC must register its own PIN/VAT certificate and is charged corporate tax of 30% of profits.

In the end, deciding which type of business entity is right for you is dependent upon your personal circumstances. Things such as your type of business, where you are doing business, and your personal financial history all come into play. Anyone who is considering starting a business truly should consult to determine which entity is best for his or her situation.

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