Exploring All Types of Business Partnerships: A 2023 Guide

what is a partnership

A partnership is a form of business where two or more people share ownership, as well as the responsibility for managing the company and the income or losses the business generates. That income is paid to partners, who then claim it on their personal tax returns – the business is not taxed separately, as corporations are, on its profits or losses.

There are three types of partnerships:

General partnership

In a general partnership, each partner shares equally in the workload, liability, and profits generated and paid out to the partners. All partners are actively involved in the business’s operations.

Limited partnership

Limited partnerships allow outside investors to buy into a business but maintain limited liability and involvement, based on their contributions. This is a more complicated form of partnership, which also has more flexibility in terms of ownership and decision-making.

Joint venture

Short-term projects or alliances that bring together multiple partners for a project are typically structured as joint ventures. If the venture performs well, it can be continued as a general partnership. Otherwise, it can be shuttered.


There are several advantages of choosing to structure a business as a partnership, which include:

  • Fairly easy to set up and maintain over time
  • Partners can pool their resources to fund the company’s start-up
  • Partners can share the workload and the rewards of the business’s success
  • Being able to offer key employees the potential to one day become a partner in the business can be a big carrot that encourages them to stay long-term


Of course, where there are advantages, there are also disadvantages to forming a partnership:

  • Where more than one owner exists, there are bound to be differences of opinion that could threaten the business
  • Although partners split any profits the business generates, if the payout is not in sync with each partner’s contribution to the company, disagreements can erupt
  • Unlike corporations, which help to shield owners from liability, partnerships have both joint and individual liability. That is, all partners are liable for their own actions on behalf of the company as well as the actions of the other partners.


There are no annual taxes to be paid, but the partnership does need to issue a K-1 form to all partners to be included in their personal income tax filings.

The takeaway here? Be careful who you go into business with, because you could be liable for their actions as they relate to the business.

Partnership FAQ

What is partnership in a business?

Partnership in a business is when two or more individuals form a business together, agreeing to share the profits, losses, and management of the company. Each partner has an equal ownership interest and shares in the decision-making process, regardless of the amount of money they initially contribute to the partnership. Partnerships are a popular business structure, as they provide tax and liability benefits.

What are the 3 types of partnership?

  • General Partnership: This is the most common type of partnership and involves two or more people who are jointly responsible for managing the business and sharing profits.
  • Limited Partnership: This type of partnership involves one or more general partners who manage the business and one or more limited partners who invest money but have no management duties or liabilities.
  • Joint Venture: This is a temporary partnership between two or more parties to undertake a specific business project or venture. The parties involved agree to share the profits and losses of the venture.

Is a partnership always 2 people?

No, a partnership can include more than two people.