Starting a Freelance Business: Is Sole Proprietorship Right for You?

March 8th, 2023 by Felix Cheruiyot

There's something romantic about being a sole proprietor. In a world where every big business has a boardroom full of stuffy suits, running a business alone can feel like a rebellion. A sole proprietorship is the simplest way to form a business. No need for expensive lawyers or convoluted paperwork. It's just you, your idea, and the drive to make it a reality. If you've always wanted to know about the advantages of sole proprietorship, read on.

The appeal of the sole proprietorship goes beyond aesthetics. For many, it's a practical way to turn a passion into a career. With complete control over your business, you can make decisions without having to consult with partners or shareholders. You can pivot quickly to changing market conditions or customer demands. And with low start-up costs and tax benefits, a sole proprietorship can be an attractive option for those looking to strike out on their own.

Before you take the leap, it's important to understand the full picture. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of a sole proprietorship, from formation to taxation. We'll also look at the advantages and disadvantages of this business structure, so you can make an informed decision about whether it's right for you. So let's dive in and take a closer look at what it means to be a sole proprietor.

Advantages of Sole Proprietorship

While sole proprietorship may not be the perfect business structure for every entrepreneur, there are several advantages to operating as a sole proprietor:

Low start-up costs

Starting a sole proprietorship is one of the most affordable ways to launch a business. Since there is only one owner, there are no legal fees or formalities required to set up a sole proprietorship. This means that the owner can start the business immediately with minimal expenses, which makes it a great option for entrepreneurs who don't have a lot of money to invest upfront.

Complete control

As the sole owner of the business, the proprietor has complete control over all aspects of the business, including its management, operations, and finances. This allows the owner to make decisions quickly and easily, without having to consult with other shareholders or partners. It also means that the proprietor can shape the business according to their vision, values, and goals, and make changes as needed.


Another advantage of a sole proprietorship is that the owner has complete flexibility over their schedule and work hours. The owner can choose to work from home, set their own hours, and take time off whenever they need to. This level of flexibility is not always possible in other business structures, where there may be more formal procedures and protocols in place.

Tax benefits

Sole proprietors enjoy certain tax benefits, such as being able to deduct business expenses from their personal income tax. This can include deductions for home office expenses, travel expenses, and even equipment purchases. Additionally, sole proprietors may be eligible for certain tax credits and deductions that are not available to other business structures.


As a sole proprietor, the owner is not required to disclose financial or operational information to anyone other than the government for tax purposes. This means that the proprietor can keep their business dealings private and maintain a level of anonymity that is not always possible in other business structures.

Formation of a Sole Proprietorship

Starting a business can be overwhelming, but with a sole proprietorship, the formation process is relatively straightforward. As long as you have a good idea and a willingness to work hard, you can be up and running in no time. Here are the key steps to getting started:

Step 1: Choose a business name

First things first, you'll need to come up with a name for your business. This is the fun part! You can go with something straightforward, like "Smith and Co.", or something creative, like "Wombats R Us". Just be sure to choose a name that's unique, memorable, and easy to spell. You don't want people stumbling over your business name every time they try to search for you online.

Avoid using puns or inside jokes as your business name. You might find it hilarious, but potential customers may not get the joke. Also, avoid names that are difficult to pronounce or spell. Honestly, you don't want to spend your entire business life correcting people's pronunciation of your business name.

Step 2: Register the business

Unlike other business structures, sole proprietorships don't require formal registration with the state. However, you will need to obtain any necessary licenses or permits for your specific business activities. For instance, if you want to start a hair salon, you'll need a cosmetology license. If you want to sell food, you'll need a food handling permit. Don't skip the research. Make sure you understand the legal requirements for your business before you start operating. You don't want to be hit with a lawsuit or fine down the line.

Step 3: Register for tax numbers

Tax registration is a big deal in Kenya and it is managed by the KRA (Kenyan Revenue Authority). If you want to run any business in Kenya, you have to take your taxes very seriously and one of the first steps to take is to register for tax numbers. Your tax number will be used to file your taxes whenever you need to.

Step 4: File for any necessary business licenses and permits

Depending on your industry and location, you may need to obtain certain licenses or permits to operate your business legally. These can include anything from a general business license to specialized permits for selling certain products or services. Don't let bureaucracy trip you up. Keep track of all the necessary licenses and permits to avoid legal trouble down the line. Also, don't forget to display your licenses and permits prominently in your business location. Nothing says "unprofessional" like a business owner who can't prove they're licensed to operate.

Sole Proprietorship vs. Other Business Structures


Partnerships are the yin to sole proprietorship's yang. Where a sole proprietorship is a one-person show, partnerships involve two or more people sharing ownership and responsibility for the business.

Partnerships come in two flavors: general partnerships, where all partners share equally in profits and losses, and limited partnerships, where one or more partners have limited liability and are not involved in day-to-day management.

Partnerships can be a great way to split the responsibilities of running a business, but they also come with some drawbacks. For example, you'll need to share decision-making power with your partners, which can lead to conflicts and disagreements.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

LLCs are a popular alternative to both sole proprietorships and partnerships. They offer the liability protection of a corporation while retaining the simplicity and flexibility of a sole proprietorship or partnership.

One of the biggest advantages of an LLC is that it limits the personal liability of its owners. If the company is sued or goes bankrupt, the owner's personal assets are generally protected. LLCs also offer more tax flexibility than sole proprietorships or partnerships, as owners can choose to be taxed as a corporation or as a pass-through entity.

However, LLCs also come with some downsides. They can be more complicated and expensive to set up than sole proprietorships or partnerships, and they also require more ongoing maintenance and record-keeping.


Corporations are the big dogs of the business world. They are separate legal entities that can own property, enter into contracts, and sue or be sued. Unlike sole proprietorships and partnerships, corporations are owned by shareholders, who elect a board of directors to manage the company.

Corporations offer the ultimate liability protection, as the company itself is responsible for any debts or legal issues. They also offer more opportunities for raising capital and attracting investors.

On the flip side, they are the most complex and expensive business structure to set up and maintain, and they are subject to more regulations and oversight than other types of businesses.

So, which one is right for you?

Deciding which business structure is right for you depends on a variety of factors, including your goals, your financial situation, and your risk tolerance. If you're just starting out and want to keep things simple, a sole proprietorship may be the way to go. But if you're looking for more liability protection and flexibility, an LLC or corporation may be a better fit.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. Just be sure to do your research, consult with an attorney and accountant, and weigh the pros and cons of each option before making a decision.

Managing a Sole Proprietorship

Now it's time to dive into the world of running your own business. As the sole owner of your enterprise, you'll be in charge of all the major decisions and day-to-day operations. Here are some key areas to focus on to ensure your success:

Financial management

Money is the lifeblood of any business, and managing your finances is crucial to your success. As a sole proprietor, you'll need to keep track of your income and expenses, and file your taxes correctly. You'll also need to consider factors like pricing, cash flow, and investments.

Keeping track of your income and expenses can be done in a variety of ways. You can use accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero, or simply keep a spreadsheet. You'll also need to set up a separate bank account for your business transactions. This will make it easier to track your income and expenses and ensure that you're keeping accurate records.

Developing a budget will help you to stay on top of your finances and avoid overspending. Make sure to consider both your fixed and variable expenses, and don't forget to factor in potential emergencies or unplanned expenses.

Handling your taxes can be a little tricky as a sole proprietor, as you'll need to file both personal and business taxes. Make sure to keep accurate records of all your income and expenses, and consider hiring an accountant or tax professional to help you navigate the process.

And how can we forget to mention a reliable payment gateway/provider? At one point, you’ll need to disburse payments to several beneficiaries, and doing so one by one can be tedious and time-consuming. Using IntaSend’s business payments, you can carry out up to 5000 transactions all at once to save time and money on transaction fees.

Legal and regulatory compliance

Running a business means that you're subject to a range of laws and regulations, and it's your responsibility to stay on top of them. This includes obtaining any necessary licenses and permits, registering your business with the appropriate state and federal agencies, and complying with employment laws. Make sure to research the laws and regulations that apply to your specific business and industry, and stay up-to-date on any changes or updates.

Market and customer acquisition

Now that you've set up your business and are managing your finances, it's time to focus on growing your customer base. Marketing your business and acquiring new customers is essential to your success as a sole proprietor. Start by defining your target market and developing a marketing plan. This may include social media marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, and more. Make sure to focus on building relationships with your customers and providing them with excellent service.

Time management

As a sole proprietor, you'll likely be juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. This can be challenging, but with good time management skills, you can stay on top of everything. Make a schedule and stick to it, and try to prioritize your most important tasks. Consider outsourcing or delegating certain tasks to free up your time, and don't forget to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge. By establishing an efficient routine and creating boundaries between business and leisure time, you can make sure you're getting the most out of your day.

Growth and expansion

As your business grows and becomes more successful, you may want to consider expanding your offerings or taking on employees. Make sure to carefully consider your options and plan for any potential challenges or expenses.

Remember, as the sole owner of your business, you have the power to make all the important decisions and shape the future of your enterprise. With careful planning, hard work, and a little bit of luck, you can achieve success and make your business dreams a reality.

Liability and risk

As a sole proprietor, you are personally responsible for any debts, losses, or legal issues that your business may encounter. This means that if things go south, your personal assets could be at risk. But don't let that scare you away from starting a sole proprietorship! With proper planning and risk management, you can minimize the chances of facing major legal or financial problems.

One way to do this is by getting liability insurance, which can protect your business and personal assets from certain legal claims. Additionally, keeping your personal and business finances separate is crucial to avoid any legal or tax issues. It's also important to be aware of potential risks associated with your business activities and take steps to minimize those risks. For example, if you run a home-based business, you may want to ensure that your homeowner's insurance policy covers any business-related activities.

By being proactive and taking steps to protect yourself and your business, you can successfully manage the risks associated with a sole proprietorship. Remember, being a sole proprietor means taking on more risk, but it also means having more control over your business and its success. Don't let fear hold you back from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams!

Taxation of Sole Proprietorship

As a sole proprietor, you are considered a self-employed individual, and the business income is reported on your personal income tax return. This means that you are responsible for paying both the employer and employee portion of taxes. These taxes are calculated based on your net business income, which is the income you earn minus any deductible business expenses.

When filing taxes as a sole proprietor, you will need to complete a form to report your business income and expenses. You may also need to file additional forms depending on your business activities to calculate your self-employment tax or report depreciation and amortization expenses.

It's important to keep detailed records of all your business income and expenses throughout the year so that you can accurately report them on your tax return. You may also want to consider working with a tax professional to ensure that you are maximizing your deductions and minimizing your tax liability.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, a sole proprietorship is a popular and accessible business structure that can offer many benefits, such as low start-up costs, complete control, flexibility, tax benefits, and privacy. However, it also has several drawbacks, including unlimited liability, difficulty raising capital, and limited growth potential.

If you are considering starting a business as a sole proprietor, it is important to weigh these pros and cons carefully to determine if this structure is the right fit for your goals and circumstances. It may be helpful to consult with a lawyer or accountant to ensure that you have a solid understanding of the legal and financial implications of your decision.

More importantly, you need a reliable payment processor to trust with your business, which in this case, is IntaSend. Whether you're accepting payments from customers for your business or you're sending out bulk payments to suppliers and employees, IntaSend can help you handle just about anything. Get started with IntaSend by creating an account, which will only take a few minutes, or learn more about business payments here.

Regardless of whether you choose a sole proprietorship or another type of business structure, remember that entrepreneurship is a journey that requires dedication, hard work, and perseverance. It may not always be easy, but with the right mindset and support, you can achieve your dreams and build a successful business.

Thank you for reading this guide on the advantages of a sole proprietorship. We hope that it has provided you with useful information and insights to help you make informed decisions about your entrepreneurial endeavors. Good luck!

Cover Photo by Microsoft Edge on Unsplash

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