What are the differences between a ‘company’, ‘corporation’, ‘enterprise’, and ‘firm’?

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What are the differences between a ‘company’, ‘corporation’, ‘enterprise’, and ‘firm’?

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A “company” is *any* business that trades and sells goods (physical products like CDs or shoes) or services (like a mechanic shop that does oil changes on cars) for money.

A “corporation” is a type of company where the ownership is divided up between shareholders (think of stocks – stocks are shares of ownership in a business). So you don’t have a single one person who outright owns the business, they are responsible to other shareholders and there are other legal obligations they have to observe.

“Enterprise” is another pretty broad term that just means means “business endeavor”. It is not a legally binding term like corporation so a person can use it freely in their company’s mission statement without any heartache.

A “firm” is a company managed under a partnership between two or more people. Usually used, at least in the US, to describe legal offices where you’ve got a few lawyers who create their own company.

A corporation is a type of company owned by shareholders. An enterprise means any undertaking, though it usually refers to a business opportunity. When used to refer to resources in a business, enterprise management means management of the entire company as a whole. Firm is usually used to refer to a company that offers professional services in fields like law, accounting, consulting, etc.

A **company** is a business.

**Firm** is used for companies where there’s two or more people doing the same job. Like at my work, most of us have different titles and we do different jobs, but at a law firm all the main people are doing the same job: lawyering it up.

**Corporation** is legally a person itself.

An **enterprise** is just another word for company although it can also be used for a limited partnership between two companies. Like, building that bridge was a joint enterprise of company A and company B.