The term "commercial enterprise" combines the meanings of the words "commerce" and "enterprise." Therefore, a commercial enterprise is a business that engages in buying and selling activities on a large scale, for the purposes of making a profit.
"Enterprise" is one of the broadest terms used to describe an organization. In general, an enterprise is an organized collection of people and systems working toward shared goals. Using this definition, nonprofit and small businesses are enterprises. A more specific interpretation of enterprise requires that all departments and employees within the organization have synergistic responsibilities to achieve goals.
Commerce is the exchange of goods or services for money. So a "commercial enterprise" is an organization that has a profit motive. Commerce is also often viewed as large scale, which means it requires the exchange of substantial amounts of goods, services and money. With this interpretation, mom and pop shops do not count. Transportation and distribution, especially in a product-based business, are common parts of a commercial enterprise.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.