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There are many different items and services that businesses offer; some produce and sell products, while others provide services. This range of objectives leads to the requirement for business classification. Let’s look at the several categories that businesses may fit into.

What is Business Classification

Based on their functions and business models, businesses can be broadly categorized into two types. Before discussing business classification and its many kinds, it’s critical to comprehend what a business is. Trade of commodities and/or services for cash or other objectives constitutes an economic activity referred to as “business.” Simply put, a business is any commercial activity that a person undertakes for the purpose of profit.

Businesses are grouped by classifying them into different sectors based on the kinds of operations they conduct. The two primary business subcategories are industry and commerce. The activities that firms engage in service as the foundation for business categorization. For instance, industry classification seeks to categorize companies based on their resource conversion and processing operations, whereas commerce seeks to categorize them based on their distribution of goods.

What Are the Four Ways a Business Can Be Classified?

The following are the four main types of law: 

  • Sole proprietor.
  • Partnership.
  • Private business.
  • Public company.

Business Classification Codes

Class codes, also known as classification codes, are used by insurance companies to classify firms based on criteria like liability, job risk, and industry. The United States Department of Commerce uses Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes, a four-digit numerical number, to classify businesses by their industry and industries according to the products and services they offer. The United Kingdom, among other non-American countries, has also adopted the use of SIC codes.

The Functions of SIC Codes

Following is a breakdown of just a few of the many ways SIC codes can be used in business.

  • Using SIC codes, businesses can categorize their clientele and target audiences based on their respective industries.
  • Using SIC codes, businesses can be categorized for monetary auditing.
  • When deciding whether or not to lend loans, financial institutions look at SIC codes to determine the type of business being approached.
  • Businesses and organizations rely on SIC codes to develop sector-specific advertising strategies.
  • Using SIC codes, businesses can research their regional and national rivals.
  • Government contracts are also tracked using SIC codes by businesses.

How to Read SIC Codes

To understand a SIC code’s significance, each group of digits must be considered separately before any conclusions can be drawn about the code as a whole.

#1. The First Two Digits

A company’s primary industry classification can be deduced from the first two digits of its SIC code. While the precise number of significant organizations may vary, it is safe to say that it is well under a hundred. The first two digits of the firm’s identification number indicate the business sector in which the corporation operates, categorizing its eleven main divisions.

#2. Third Digit

The second distinctive characteristic of a business is represented by the third digit. The business industry group, which is the third digit, provides even more specificity in the business classification. If, for instance, 23xx represents the apparel industry:

  • Furniture for men and boys is identified with 232x.
  • Furnishings for ladies and misses is designated by the number 233x.

#3. Fourth Digit

When assigning a SIC code to a business, the final number is the most specific one. By adding this final digit, there are now over a thousand permutations. The SIC code 2050 (with an accent on the last digit) describes goods produced in bakeries, while the SIC code 2052 describes those who produce cookies and crackers. By adding a fourth digit, the business classification is narrowed down to a granular level.

Small Business Classification

A company’s size relative to the size standard (or maximum size at which it can still be considered small) in its industry is one of the criteria for determining whether or not it is considered a small business. Despite the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of “large,” the number of employees or annual revenue is typically used as a proxy. The following are some of the criteria used to determine business size by the SBA currently.

  • Producing food through farming, forestry, fishing, and hunting: Between $2 million and $30 million in typical annual receipts, depending on your subsector.
  • Extraction of minerals, rocks, and fuels: You should have no more than 250–1,500 workers, depending on your industry. There are four sectors with yearly revenue rather than employee limits, ranging from $18 million to $41.5 million.
  • Utilities: Dependent on your industry, no more than 250-1 000 workers. Annual revenue caps instead range from $26.5 million to $36 million across three distinct industries.
  • Construction: Average annual revenue between $16.5 to $39.5 million.
  • Manufacturing: Dependent on your industry, no more than 500-1,500 workers.
  • Wholesale trade: Depending on your industry, no more than 100-250 workers.
  • Commerce at the counter: No more than $8 to $41.5 million in average annual receipts, depending on your subsector. In other industries, the number of allowed workers is capped at between 100 and 200.
  • Logistics and storage: Between 500 and 1500 maximum, depending on your specific industry. A few industries have maximum allowable yearly average receipts that range from $8 million to $41.5 million.
  • Information: Dependent on your industry, no more than 250-1,500 personnel is ideal. Average annual revenue is projected to be between $9.5 and $41.5 million.

Types of Business Classification

Operating activity, investing activity, and financing activity are the three types of business activities. Let’s quickly go over each of the three divisions of business activities:

  • Operating Tasks: Operating activities are any commercial activities that are directly or indirectly related to the provision of goods and services. They thus have a direct impact on cash flow, which has an impact on income.
  • Investment activities: The term “investment activities” refers to all activities that seek to be capitalized for a time frame longer than a year. This includes capital expenditures like the purchase of long-term assets or real estate
  • Financial activities: Financing operations refer to all business finance activities that are not primarily related to the sale of products and services. Common financial activities include the issuance of bonds, loans, and shares.

Business Activity Grouping

The following are the two major categories into which business activities are separated:

  • Industry
  • Commerce.

Let’s quickly go over the meanings of the two terms.

#1. Industry

A sector of the economy known as industry is one where raw materials are transformed into valuable products. Bread, butter, radios, and clothing are examples of capital or consumer goods that can be produced by an economic sector. Three groups can be made up of the sector, namely:

  • Primary Industry
  • Secondary Industry
  • Tertiary Industry

Let’s quickly go over the following industries categories:

Primary Industry

The primary industry is divided into extractive industries. It entails actions including the direct exploitation of natural resources, such as water, air, land, etc., with the intention of making money. The primary sector covers, among other things, processing and resource extraction. These primary sectors are divided further into:

  • Industries that extract resources or goods from natural sources are referred to as extractive industries. Some examples of extractive industries are the logging, farming, mining, hunting, and fishing sectors.
  • The term “genetic industry” refers to the practice of breeding and raising living things, such as plants, birds, and animals. For instance, the genetic business includes the growing of plants in nurseries or calves in dairy farms.

Secondary Industry

The sector of the economy known as the “secondary industry” produces completed goods using raw materials as input. Secondary industries fall into one of two categories:

  • Manufacturing-related industries: These sectors are involved in turning semi-finished goods or raw materials into finished goods.
  • The construction sector is responsible for constructing roads, dams, buildings, and other constructions. Materials utilized in manufacturing, such as cement, lime, iron, and steel, are employed in these industries.

Tertiary Industry

It is believed that tertiary enterprises’ service offerings facilitate the exchange of goods and services. This company supports the activities of the primary and secondary sectors.

#2. Commerce

The phrase “commerce” refers to the full range of activities carried out to offer products to their intended consumers. It acts as a crucial link between manufacturers of goods and consumers. According to the definition of commerce, this activity aims to reduce barriers to exchange. A few of the commercial activities that support the sale and purchase of goods and services as well as their availability for consumption and use in the context of commerce include trade, banking, insurance, and warehousing. There are two different types of commerce, specifically:

  • Trade
  • Auxiliary to trade

Let’s quickly go over the two commerce categories:


A crucial part of commerce is trade. It involves getting and giving away goods and services. Trades can be categorized as either internal trade or exterior trade.

  • The term “internal trade” refers to the purchasing and selling of goods and services within the borders of a country. Other names for internal trade are domestic trade and home trade. The two types of internal trade are retail trade and wholesale trade.
  • “External trade” refers to the exchange of commodities and services across international borders. International trade has a huge market. The three types of external trade are export, import, and interstate trade.

Auxiliary to trade

When used in a commercial context, the term “Auxiliary to Commerce” refers to any undertaking that aids in performing duties related to commerce and industry. In actuality, trade and industry are supported by commerce, which acts as their foundation. Among them are finance, logistics, marketing, insurance, and communication.

What Is the Importance of the Basic Classification of Business?

An important element in providing coverage for risk is accurately classifying a business since it supports the rating structure and enables an insurance carrier to charge a rate that is consistent with business exposures.

Business Classification by Size

The size of the company is one of the most important differences between businesses. Regardless of where you work, knowing the different business sizes and which category your recruiting organization belongs to may be beneficial to your career. Understanding the most common business sizes and their distinguishing features is an essential piece of knowledge. In this article, we examine the numerous categories for business sizes and describe their salient characteristics.

What Are the Classifications for Business Sizes?

A company’s size is a relative concept that is strongly influenced by the industry it serves. There are three main business sizes, and they all share some common characteristics, regardless of their industry. The top three categories for business size are as follows:

  • Small business: The vast majority of American businesses fall within this category. Typically, a small firm is one with fewer than 1,500 employees and a maximum yearly revenue of $38.5 million.
  • Mid-market business: They are larger than startups but smaller than established businesses. Their annual revenue fluctuates between $38.5 million and $1 billion, and they normally employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people.
  • Large-scale enterprise: Despite the fact that there aren’t many of these businesses when all business sizes in the U.S. are taken into account, their size and capacity to dominate a certain market mean that they account for the majority of total income.

Business Classifications FAQs

What Do You Mean by the Classification of Business Activities?

Operating activity, investing activity, and financing activity are the three types of business activities.

How Do You Determine Business Classification?

Individual businesses are first given an industry based on their main source of revenue.

What Are Classifications of Business?

Typically, there are four different types of businesses: corporations, sole proprietorships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and partnerships

What Are the Three Classifications of Business?

Typically, companies fall into one of three categories: corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship.

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