Understanding Shareholders in a Corporation

Definition of Shareholders

A shareholder is essentially an owner of a corporation. They hold a stake in the company, represented by the shares they possess. If a person is the only stakeholder of a corporation, they become the sole shareholder.

Breaking Down the Shares

You might be wondering, “What are shares?” In essence, shares are tangible representations of one’s ownership in a corporation. They are, in simple terms, pieces of paper or digital records indicating your percentage of ownership in the corporation.

  1. Understanding Percentage of Ownership: A corporation might have a set number of shares, say a hundred. Owning 15 of those shares means you have 15% ownership of the corporation. Similarly, if a corporation has a thousand shares and you possess 10, your ownership stake is 1%.
  2. Flexibility in Share Creation: It is important to note that corporations typically have the flexibility to create or divide shares. For instance, in a stock split scenario, if a corporation decides to divide each existing share into two, the total number of shares doubles. This means shareholders will now own double the number of shares they previously held, but their percentage of ownership remains unchanged.

The Significance of Ownership Percentage

While the number of shares a shareholder owns is essential, the real weight lies in the ownership percentage. It indicates the stake a shareholder has in the corporation, impacting their influence on corporate decisions, dividends received, and more.

Comparing Shareholders and LLC Members

To draw a comparison, while corporations have shareholders, Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) have members. These members hold ownership stakes in the LLC, much like how shareholders own parts of a corporation. However, in both scenarios, they are all considered business owners, playing a pivotal role in the direction, growth, and success of their respective entities.


Shareholders are the backbone of a corporation, holding its stakes and determining its trajectory. Their ownership, represented by shares, gives them a voice and influence in the corporate realm. As with all business structures, understanding the intricacies of shareholder roles and responsibilities is vital for anyone involved in or contemplating entering the corporate world.

Video Transcript

What Are Shareholders in a Corporation?

A shareholder is an owner of a corporation. It is just a business owner. If you have a corporation, you have shareholders, one or more. So if the business owner owns the entire corporation, they are the sole shareholder. Whether the corporation has one share or a hundred shares, it doesn’t matter. The shareholder is the sole owner of the corporation. But you could have two shareholders. Maybe they each own 50% of the shares of the corporation.

Understanding Corporate Shares

You might say, “Hey, what are shares?” Well, shares are just pieces of paper that say, “How much of a corporation do you own?” So a corporation might have a hundred shares, for example, that means if you own 15 of the shares, you own 15%. But a corporation could also have a thousand shares. And if you own 10 of those thousand shares, you obviously own 1%.

Stock Splits and Ownership Percentages

So a corporation, by the way, can usually create more shares or divide the shares. So if you have a stock split, let’s say a corporation has two owners and they each own 50 shares. There are 100 total shares. If you have a stock split and every stock divides into two, then the corporation goes from having 100 shares to 200 shares, and each owner goes from having 50 shares to a hundred shares.

Now, if you own 100 shares of a 200-share corporation, you have 50%. Likewise, if you own 50% of a hundred shares of a corporation, you own 50%. So it doesn’t matter how many shares you own really. What matters is what is your percentage of ownership in the company.

Shareholders to LLC Members

So that gives you an idea of what shares are. They are just documents that say, “Hey, this is how much you own of a company.” And a company can be divided up many different ways. It just has to issue more shares. So shareholders are owners of a corporation. Contrast that with LLCs. In an LLC, members are the owner of the LLC. So just like shareholders own a corporation, members own an LLC, and we call all of them business owners.


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I am Aaron Hall, an attorney for business owners and entrepreneurial companies. It was a pleasure talking with you today and answering your questions from an educational perspective. As I always say, before you rely on any of this, consult with an attorney. It is my hope that you use these questions to identify topics and questions to bring up with your attorney. Until the next live session, I hope you are doing well. Take care.