Principal vs Partner: Differences, Advantages & Importance

I’m sure you have heard the title partner or principal frequently in business circles. While these terms sometimes get mixed up due to the confusion in the roles they play, a principal while sharing some similarities, differs from a partner.

In this article, you will learn what a principal and a partner have in common, their advantages over each other, and how their roles differ from each other.

What is the meaning of a principal?

Principals play a variety of duties depending on the business, but managing relationships and exercising influence is typically their primary responsibility. 

The owner of a private corporation or the key decision-maker is typically referred to as a principal. This could be the chief executive officer (CEO), however, this title can be given to a variety of people regardless of their position.

Founders, owners, and CEOs of the company are some examples of principals. Large portions of the company’s equity are most times owned by principals, who also approve crucial choices.

There are several statutory documents that make use of the term “principal,” and most of them means someone who has the power to make decisions.

To be more precise, they manage client interactions, look after commercial relationships, and work to create the strategic objective and long-term vision of the organization.

What is the meaning of a partner?

A partner refers to a member of a partnership, an association in which all members share equally in the gains and losses of a business or other venture.

A partnership, broadly speaking, can be any project that several people undertake together. Governments, charity organizations, businesses, or private persons could be the parties. A partnership’s objectives can also differ greatly.

The three primary types of partnerships are general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships when referring to a for-profit endeavor carried out by two or more people.

What is the difference between a principal and a partner? 

Principals are typically the top executives of the businesses they represent or work for, while partners are people who own a significant share of a corporation.

Although some people perform both jobs simultaneously, principals typically have more influence on business operations.

In comparison to employees or other stakeholders, partners frequently have the largest share in the company and may own more equity than the founder(s).

Other differences that exist between partners and principals in a business include;

1. Experience need

Principals must be competent and knowledgeable in their chosen industries, which calls for industry-specific experience.

On the other hand, regardless of sector expertise, partners are frequently able to achieve executive rank within the company simply by virtue of their stock/investment, achieving certain milestones in the organization.

2. Job responsibility

Partners frequently shoulder a lot of responsibility despite appearing to be the figureheads. For instance, the majority of partners manage accounting, financial planning, and tax compliance.

They also make certain that all profits are allocated in a predetermined way. Partners make every effort to secure the long-term success of the business and keep each other accountable for adhering to all conditions stated in their partnership agreements.

In comparison, principals frequently have greater work. The extent of their job is determined by the role they are assigned inside the organization.

3. Authority

In order to adopt new norms or expectations for company culture, principals collaborate with managers from all levels of the organization. They create new concepts for the company’s personality and how they want customers to view them in collaboration with executives. 

Partners do not need to collaborate with managers but may have the final say in how the workplace culture will be.

4. Control

Due to their ownership interest, partners sometimes have more control over businesses than principals. Although the extent of their authority varies according to the amount of equity or stake they own in the organization.

They typically have the authority to make executive choices regarding the direction of the business. 

Partners also have the ability to voice their opinions and sway executive votes in situations where the company needs to make critical decisions.

Principals, on the other hand, exert influence at varying levels. They play similar roles to CEOs and representatives of various companies.

The extent of a principal’s interest or investment in the business determines how much control they have over it.

What are the advantages of a principal? 

The primary advantage of being a principal includes the opportunity to make choices and participate in managing your company’s everyday operations. You have first-hand experience managing people and resources, which is another advantage. 

As a major owner, you receive a larger percentage of the earnings, so if everything works well, you could end up being extremely wealthy.

What are the advantages of having a business partner? 

The advantages of having a business partner include;

  • It is easy to launch your company and has modest startup expenses.
  • More capital becomes available for the growth of the business
  • Income splitting becomes possible and offers the benefit of resulting in significant tax savings.
  • You can easily back out of the partnership by selling your stake if circumstances become unfavorable
  • It reduces the risk of losing by sharing the burden compared to when running it alone
  • External regulations become limited when running a business partnership

SEE: Strategy for Businesses to Have Fun and Stay Focused

Who is more important: a principal or a partner? 

Although some people perform both jobs simultaneously, principals typically have more roles in business operations.

They have the ability to alter or implement the organization’s current initiatives and structures. However, final choices are made by partners.


Can you be a business partner without capital?

Yes, you can become a business partner without capital.

Those who do not contribute capital and own a sizable portion of the partnership’s stake are known as nominal partners.  

Can you enter a partnership without a written agreement?

Yes, you can enter a partnership without a written contract.

Partnerships are distinct kinds of business arrangements that don’t call for a written contract. However, having such a document is usually a good idea.

What is the difference between a principal and a director? 

Directors would have a more top-level approach to the business, whereas principals would be more involved in day-to-day operations.


While a principal assumes more responsibility in the operation of a business, depending on the stake involved, partners tend to make the final decision. However, this is only the case when the principal in an organization is made of partners. 

In a situation where an organization was formed via partnership, a principal is usually elected to run the affairs of the organization. 

Additionally, principals are required to have expertise in managing the organization, while a partner’s investment in the organization merits the authority they wield. Technically, you do not need business expertise to be a partner in an organization. 

Although they both have their advantages over each other, being a partner offers more advantages over principals as they do not require expertise and avail you more authority. 

I hope you found this article helpful. Interested in starting a business but feel you lack the business expertise? Here are useful tips on how to launch a successful business without having a degree.

Thanks for reading.