An enterprise is a general term in the business world used to define a project or business undertaken for profit. In most instances, by context, it denotes to an entire business unit carried out by an entity and thus, is often synonymous to “project” or “enterprise”. The word is generally employed as a catch all for describing various types of businesses, including branding, intellectual property, public or private sector ventures, franchises, branding, management consulting etc. In the past, the term enterprise was almost exclusively used within the commercial realm, particularly finance and banking, and thus was almost exclusively equated with business. However, the trend has now changed and enterprise has come to mean any type of organization undertaking with a profit motive.
There are two broad types of enterprises: sole proprietorship and partnership. A sole proprietorship is essentially a single person owning and managing an enterprise. This type of business is generally viewed as an isolated unit carrying on its own business. Partnerships on the other hand, are two or more people coming together for the purpose of carrying on the enterprise jointly, and share in its profits. A majority of companies operating today have one or more partnerships with other like minded companies and some even do so without forming a corporation.
As previously mentioned, there are many variations of the word enterprise and as they pertain to various types of businesses there are numerous subtypes. Many times, when we refer to an enterprise we are actually referring to one or more business processes, which, in turn, are subtypes of enterprise. For instance, an architect who also designs the building for which he works, would be considered an architect who also designs buildings for other people.