A business is a commercial activity that involves providing goods or services with a primary motive of earning profits. It is the underlying objective on which the entire concept of business is developed. The business model, plan, vision, mission and strategies are all developed based on this idea. Uber, for example, was started on this concept of aggregating taxi drivers under one brand and offering their services on demand. In the same way, every other business is run on this concept of generating profits.
Businesses can range in size and structure from small sole proprietorships to massive international corporations. They can be for-profit entities or non-profit organizations that support a charitable mission or social cause. Business can also be defined by the industry in which it operates. A real estate business, a mattress production business or an oil company are all examples of industries. Finally, business can be categorized by the legal structure under which it is formed. Most businesses operate under one of four primary business structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company (LLC).
The term business comes from the Latin word bisignes, which means “engaged in trade.” It’s a rich and varied word that has given rise to many idioms. For instance, when someone says to get down to business, they mean that they are getting serious about something. Then there are words like nobody’s business that imply that someone’s private matters should not be discussed with others. Finally, there is the expression mind your own business, which implies that you should focus on your own concerns and leave other people’s business alone.
To be considered a business, an entity must engage in commercial, industrial or professional activities. It may or may not be for profit, but it must seek profit from the activities it engages in. That profit can be in the form of money or other benefits. It can also be in the form of intangible benefits, such as assistance or advice, which are provided by an enterprise for a fee. Examples include law firms, consultancy agencies and providers of courier and transportation services.
Despite its long history and widespread use, the word business has lost some of its luster. Perhaps it’s because trust in big business has cracked, with many believing that executives are no longer running companies for the benefit of their consumers or employees, but for their own personal gain. This has prompted some to call for a new definition of business. The following are some of the proposals that have been suggested: