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Introduction to Business Structures in India: Sole Proprietorship and One Person Company

  • Posted By SuperCA
  • On 21 December

Introduction to Business Structures in India: Sole Proprietorship and One Person Company

In the evolving landscape of Indian business, choosing the right legal structure for your enterprise is crucial. This blog delves into two popular options: Sole Proprietorship and One Person Company (OPC). We'll explore the nuances of sole proprietorship registration and the intricacies of forming an OPC, helping you make an informed decision.

Understanding Sole Proprietorship: Basics and Registration

Sole Proprietorship - Definition and Characteristics


A sole proprietorship is the simplest business form under which one can operate a business in India. It is not a legal entity and is owned by one individual who is personally responsible for the business’s debts and obligations.

  • Ease of Setup: Setting up a sole proprietorship is straightforward with minimal regulatory compliance.
  • Control: The owner has complete control over the business operations.
  • Taxation: Profits are taxed as personal income of the owner.

Sole Proprietorship Registration Process

The registration process for a sole proprietorship in India is relatively simple and can be broken down into a few steps:

  • Choose a Business Name: Select a unique name for your business.
  • Obtain PAN Card: The owner’s personal PAN Card is used for tax purposes.
  • Open a Bank Account: A bank account in the name of the business should be opened.
  • Register for Taxes: Depending on the business, you may need to register for GST.
  • Obtain Licenses: Depending on the type of business, specific licenses may be required.


Sole Proprietorship Registration Process




Business Name Selection


PAN Card Application


Opening Bank Account


Tax Registrations


Obtaining Necessary Licenses

Demystifying One Person Company (OPC): Definition and Formation

What is a One Person Company?

A One Person Company (OPC) is a relatively new business structure in India, introduced under the Companies Act, 2013. It combines the simplicity of a sole proprietorship with the benefits of a company, offering a unique blend of ease and professionalism.

  • Legal Entity: Unlike a sole proprietorship, an OPC is a separate legal entity from its owner.
  • Limited Liability: The personal assets of the owner are protected; liability is limited to the business.
  • Perpetual Succession: The OPC continues to exist, regardless of changes in ownership or management.

Steps to Form an OPC

Forming an OPC involves a more structured process compared to a sole proprietorship:

  • Obtain Digital Signature Certificate (DSC): Essential for filing forms electronically.
  • Director Identification Number (DIN): The proposed director must obtain a DIN.
  • Name Approval: Apply for the name of the company through the RUN (Reserve Unique Name) form.
  • Incorporation Documents: Prepare and file the Memorandum of Association (MoA) and Articles of Association (AoA).
  • Incorporation Certificate: Upon verification, the Registrar of Companies (RoC) issues an incorporation certificate.

Steps to Form an OPC




Digital Signature Certificate


Director Identification Number


Name Approval


Documentation (MoA & AoA)


Incorporation Certificate


Comparing Sole Proprietorship and OPC: Pros and Cons

When choosing between a sole proprietorship and an OPC, it's crucial to weigh their advantages and disadvantages.


Sole Proprietorship

  • Pros:

    • Simplicity and ease of formation.
    • Complete control by the owner.
    • Less regulatory compliance.
  • Cons:

    • Unlimited liability.
    • Limited access to funding.
    • Lack of perpetual succession.

One Person Company

  • Pros:

    • Limited liability protects personal assets.
    • Greater credibility and easier access to funding.
    • Perpetual succession ensures business continuity.
  • Cons:

    • More compliance and regulatory requirements.
    • Higher setup and operational costs.
    • Restrictions on business activities in certain cases.

Regulatory and Tax Implications: Sole Proprietorship vs. OPC

Understanding the regulatory and tax implications of both Sole Proprietorship and One Person Company is crucial for informed decision-making.

Sole Proprietorship: Regulatory and Tax Aspects


Regulatory Compliance:

  • Minimal regulatory requirements.
  • No requirement to file annual returns with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
  • Compliance mostly related to tax filings and specific business licenses.

Tax Implications:

  • Income is taxed as the personal income of the owner.
  • No corporate tax applicable.
  • Eligible for certain tax benefits under the Income Tax Act, depending on the turnover and nature of the business.

One Person Company: Regulatory and Tax Aspects

Regulatory Compliance:

  • OPCs must file annual returns and financial statements with the RoC.
  • Mandatory statutory audit, irrespective of turnover.
  • Compliance with specific sections of the Companies Act, 2013.

Tax Implications:

  • OPCs are taxed at the corporate tax rate.
  • Not eligible for tax benefits under the presumptive taxation scheme.
  • Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) applicable on dividends distributed to the owner.

Regulatory and Tax Comparison


Sole Proprietorship

One Person Company

Regulatory Compliance



Tax Filing

Personal Income Tax

Corporate Tax

Audit Requirement

Based on Turnover


Decision Making: Choosing the Right Entity for Your Business

When deciding between a Sole Proprietorship and an OPC, consider the following factors:

  • Nature and Scale of Business: If you're starting small or testing a business idea, a sole proprietorship might be more suitable. For businesses with higher risk or those needing more capital, an OPC could be preferable.
  • Funding Requirements: OPCs have an edge in raising funds from banks and investors.
  • Risk Appetite and Liability: Consider your willingness to accept personal liability versus the protection of personal assets offered by an OPC.
  • Long-term Vision: If you aim for perpetual succession and a more structured business, OPC fits the bill.

Conclusion: Navigating Your Business Journey

Both Sole Proprietorship and One Person Company offer unique advantages and cater to different business needs in India. Your choice should align with your business goals, risk tolerance, and growth aspirations.

For more tailored advice and expert consultation on choosing the right business structure, consider reaching out to a professional consultant or chartered accountant.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can a Sole Proprietorship be converted to an OPC?

A: Yes, a sole proprietorship can be converted into an OPC. This process involves incorporating an OPC and transferring the assets and liabilities of the sole proprietorship to the newly formed OPC.

Q2: What is the tax rate for an OPC?

A: An OPC is taxed at the corporate tax rate, which is subject to change as per the Union Budget announcements. It's advisable to consult a tax professional for the current rate and tax planning.

Q3: How long does it take to set up an OPC?

A: The time to set up an OPC can vary, but it typically takes about 10-15 days once all necessary documents are submitted. The process might be longer if there is a delay in document approval or discrepancies.

Q4: Is there any threshold limit for OPCs to mandatorily convert into a private limited company?

A: Yes, an OPC needs to mandatorily convert into a private limited company if its annual turnover crosses ₹2 crores or if its paid-up capital exceeds ₹50 lakhs.

Q5: Can a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) form an OPC in India?

A: Yes, as per the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2020, NRIs are allowed to form an OPC in India. However, they need to comply with certain conditions and requirements as per the Companies Act.

Q6: What are the annual compliance requirements for a Sole Proprietorship?

A: A sole proprietorship's annual compliance mainly involves tax filings, such as Income Tax Returns, and GST filings if registered. The specific requirements can vary based on business turnover and the nature of the business.

Q7: Can an OPC have more than one director?

A: While an OPC can have only one shareholder, it can have more than one director. The Companies Act allows an OPC to have a maximum of 15 directors.