A company is any form of business whether it is small or large.
Generally the term "company" indicates a particular kind of business dealing in a specific product.

An organisation is the larger form and generally comprises of a
number of companies. Simply, a company is an organization, but an organization is not just a company.

An industry is the combination of companies in same line of

Firm, corporation and business are synonyms of "company".

An Agency is a particular kind of company, which serves as an intermediary between clients (other companies or individuals).

Is this correct?

  • 1
    Where did you find these definitions? Is it something you made up or are you quoting a source?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 12:47

6 Answers 6


They are all related but in different categories.

This is how they are related:

  • Industry
    • Organisation
      • Company; Profit Organisation ("Business")
        • Corporation ("Co.")
          • Public Limited ("Ltd")
          • Private Limited ("Pte Ltd")
          • Incorporated ("Inc.")
          • Trust company
          • Agency
        • Firm
          • Partnership
          • Limited Liability Company ("LLC")
          • Limited Liability Partnership ("LLP")
      • Non-profit
        • Charity
        • Foundation

Disclaimer: The chart above is incomplete as it is just to let the OP to have the image of how they are related.

Disclaimer 2: I am unsure whether Industry includes Non-profit. I don't think so, I think it includes categories of businesses like Automobile, Telephone, Internet, etc.

The most common mistake people make is the usage of Company, Corporation and Firm.

  • What about a Trust?
    – Premraj
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 5:04
  • @PeterParker, "Inc" is an abbreviation of "Incorporated". As for Trust, I don't know because I've never heard before. A quick google research suggests that it's a corporation. "A trust company is a corporation, especially a commercial bank, organized to perform the fiduciary of trusts and agencies."Wikipedia
    – XPMai
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 5:13
  • 2
    Categories of businesses going to vary quite a bit by country. I've never see Pte. Ltd. outside of Singaporean companies, for example, and the division you list between firms and corporations, even if it does exists legally in some places, is not reflective of the actual usage of those terms in North America, for example. And there are many, many more categories of business that just these.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 5:24
  • @choster, oh yes, just to mention that my above are based on my Singapore's companies knowledge. In countries like US for example, you can just register your companies and choose any of the suffixes i.e. Microsoft Corporation. My list is just generally, how they're related used in the world. Some countries rule, some countries let you to choose for fun.
    – XPMai
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 5:27

There are many more aspects than what you present.

For one thing, "organization" includes non-profit entities such as churches, charitable enterprises, sports organizations, etc.

For another, "firms" include such things as law parnerships.

You do not mention corporations

The only one where you are close to correct is that an Industry is indeed the sum of all companies in the same type of business.

I suggest you investigate further in several dictionaries, to discern the nuances. Then ask a question about one or two of these terms, not four.

  • Corporation: The business is a separate entity from the individuals that run the business. Various individuals working in several different management roles like shareholders, directors and officers.

  • Firm: A business concern, especially one involving a partnership of two or more people.

  • Company: A commercial business.

  • Agency: A business or organization providing a particular service on behalf of another business, person, or group.

  • Organization: An organized group of people with a particular purpose, such as a business or government department.
  • Institution: An organization founded for a religious, educational, professional, or social purpose.
  • Industry: Economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories.
  • Business: Commercial activity.

I think of companies and organisations as more of the same, except for a few differences like: companies are majorly for business (profit making), while organisations can either be profit making, non profit making or carry out both.

  • While this skims the surface of the difference, there are other details. As presented in the other answers.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Oct 22, 2015 at 9:16

Difference between firm and company must be examined from two main perspectives:

  • Legal perspective and;
  • Linguistic perspective.

From legal perspective there is no such business structure as firm. The word "firm" is used interchangeably with the term "company".

From a linguistic point of view company is a broader notion of business entity. The notion of “company” embraces the notion of “firm”. In simple words, all business entities are usually referred as companies. Only those of companies that are partnerships are usually referred as firms. (E.g. law firms, accounting firms - those are usually partnerships)

  • So you've copy and pasted a section from the web page you linked, which is on a site for a company selling company formation and website services. Are you affiliated with them?
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 3:12

"Company", "firm", and "business" are synonyms. They all mean an organization engaged in producing some product or service for sale and profit.

Though note that "company" can also mean "a group of people" in general, as in, "As I entered the town, a large company of men came out to meet me." "Company" is also a size of a military unit, in the US, it's a unit bigger than a platoon and smaller than a battalion.

An "organization" is a group of people organized for a particular purpose. It is more general than "company". A social club, a government agency, or a church would also be "organizations" even though they are not "companies" and don't sell their products.

A "corporation" is a specific kind of company. Namely, a company that was financed by selling stock, so that it is owned by the share-holders. While laws vary between countries, typically the share-holders liability for debts is limited to the value of their stock, that is, if the corporation goes bankrupt at worst the share-holders stocks become worth zero; people the corporation owes money to can't demand that share-holders pay more from other sources.

An "agency" can be, (a) a government organization or a division within a government organization. Like in the US we have the "Environmental Protection Agency" and the "Central Intelligence Agency". (b) A company that is in the business of representing people. The person represented is then called a "client" and the company acts as the client's "agent". That is, they act as a go-between for other people. For example a "real estate agency" takes on the task of selling your house for you, and represents your interests to potential buyers, the bank, etc.

An "industry" is the set of all companies producing the same product or service. For example, the "cell phone industry". "Industry" can also mean manufacturing. If we say, "The economy of this town is centered on industry", we mean it has a lot of factories, as opposed to getting most of its income from office work or retail stores.

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