Business Formation 2 – Partnerships

In Part I we looked at the option of starting up a business as a Sole Trader. In this second of three articles we now look at Partnerships and whether this may be the most attractive form of Self-Employment for Start-up businesses.

A Partnership is formed when two or more people join together to engage in an economic enterprise. It can be seen as a number of Sole Traders joining together to start a business. It is usually defined by a partnership agreement that sets out such items as the number of partners, the percentage of the partnership owned by each person and various other rules by which the partners should abide. We would recommend that you find a solicitor who can draw up a Partnership Agreement for you as it is a very important document. It should be stressed that a Partnership is NOT a Limited Company and each partner is jointly and severally liable for the debts of the Partnership. In other words, if a partner accumulates debts on behalf of the partnership and is unable to repay them, then all other partners are liable for these debts.

The main advantage of a Partnership is that it removes the fear of “going it alone” that worries many would be entrepreneurs. For example, if you are a mechanic and would like to set up in conjunction with a friend/ former work colleague, Partnership could be a structure to allow you to start up a business together. You would register the partnership with both the CRO and the Revenue (using a TR1 form, similar to a Sole Trader) The administration costs are lower than for a Limited Company and there are less regulatory requirements. However these lower costs need to be balanced against the greater risk to which a partner will be exposed. We would advise that you speak to a professional adviser to ensure that you understand both sides of the debate and can make an informed decision.

In Part III we will look at the final option available to business start-ups, the formation of a Limited Company. In the meantime if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the office.