Not always. If yours is a small business in the form of a small, micro- or medium-sized enterprise (SMME) or a start-up, you do not have to register it.

It can operate without registration as either a sole ownership or a partnership, although in both cases you must register with tax authorities and file tax returns.

In South Africa, a private companies a legal entity that is separate and distinguishable from the shareholders who own it.

Public companies are listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. They must have at least three directors, be audited, and produce audited financial statements, which are tabled annually with their shareholders.

Both types of company, private and public, are registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

It’s important to be aware that, even if you do register a company, this does not mean that your IP rights are secure. To do this, you may need to apply for a trade mark.