Company shares and shareholders

What are shares?


Shares represent ownership of a company. When an individual buys shares in your company, they become one of its owners. Shareholders choose who runs a company and are involved in making key decisions, such as whether a business should be sold.

While shares are most obviously associated with the stock market, most small businesses don't go near a stock market in their lifetime. They are more likely to issue shares in their company in return for a lump sum investment. This investment may either come from friends and family or, for businesses that are looking for capital to fund high growth, through formal equity funding finance.

Formal equity finance is available through:

  • business angel investors
  • venture capital firms
  • stock markets

These investors are willing to put up capital for a share in a growth business. The advantage of raising money in this way is that you don't have to pay the money back or pay interest to the investors. Instead, shareholders are entitled to a share of the distributable profits of the company, known as dividends.

For further information see types of shares.

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