Successful entrepreneurs with multiple small businesses are typically concerned with limiting liability, streamlining management and retaining ownership control over each entity. Using a holding company can sometimes be the solution to all three concerns. The company works as an umbrella to give you centralized control over your endeavors while maintaining the liability firewall between each business.

Parent Company

A holding company is a corporation or limited liability company that holds a controlling ownership interest in other companies or the assets that those companies use. Typically, a holding company simply holds equity interests or assets, rather than actively engaging in business, such as selling goods or services. Another name for a holding company is a parent, and the companies under it are called operating companies or subsidiaries.

Centralized Control

Entrepreneurs who want to open multiple small businesses can use a holding company to centralize control. The entrepreneur can set up the holding company and designate himself as the sole owner. Each business can be set up separately with the holding company as the owner. In this way, the holding company is the central repository of the equity interests in those companies, and the entrepreneur can select executive management for each company while retaining the ability to direct each entity.

Limiting Investment

Using a holding company also enables you to raise money and create partnerships for each individual entity without losing overarching control of the business conglomerate. An equity investor can invest in one of the companies under the holding company without interfering with any of the others. If you had simply created a single company with multiple divisions or projects, an investor would take an interest in your whole business empire instead of just a single project that is set up as its own business.

Limiting Liability

One of the best uses of a holding company for small-business owners is to further limit liability. Creditors of a corporation or an LLC can go after anything that the entity owns. If you're in a high-risk business, you can use a holding company to own all of the assets that your business needs to operate, such as real property, vehicles and equipment. The holding company leases those assets to the operating company, so if the operating company gets sued, it owns very little that can be used to satisfy a judgment. The operating company can easily be closed and declared bankrupt, and you can set up another business that leases the exact same assets from the holding company.


Creating an interlocking ownership structure for multiple small businesses using a holding company is a sophisticated endeavor with significant tax consequences that are tied to your legal structure choices and tax elections. For example, special personal holding company tax rules apply to corporations but not necessarily LLCs that are used as holding companies. Consult with qualified legal and tax professionals before setting up your businesses.