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A business partner is someone (a person or another company) that is going to be operating the business with you. They could be a co-founder, another business that compliments yours in some way that's joining you on a project, or a strategic partner that you're starting a completely new business with. They may also be, and many times are, part owners of the business. Whatever their role, like you they are actively working to grow and operate the business.
An investor is someone who contributes money or other resources to your business in exchange for owning a part of your business. Investors can be active by giving advice and voting on major business decisions. Investors can also be passive by just giving money or other resources, but only expecting a return on investment and not playing an active role in the business by giving advice or deciding on major business decisions.
A passive investor is one that wants to leave the business and management decisions to you. So, a passive investor provides funds and expects a return on investment, but let's you run your business. They may want to be updated from time to time of course, and they might vote on things like who gets to be on the Board of Directors or a Management Committee, but otherwise they are mostly quiet and let you go about your business and don't take an active part in your operations.
Most common type of business
A Corporation could work great for you.
A general partnership could be suited to what you need right now.
A Limited Partnership could work for you.
Limited Partnerships are made up of Limited Partners and at least one General Partner. The Limited Partners are called "limited" because they are not fully liable for the debts and obligations of the partnership. In other words, they have limited liability. But that limited liability is not perfect - there is a big exception.
The Limited Partners are only protected from liability if they are not taking an active role in the operations of the partnership. If they do, they become fully liable for the partnership's obligations and debts.
The General Partner is the one in charge of managing the business and operations of the partnership. Since it takes on that role, the General Partner is also the one liable for the debts and obligations of the partnership.
All of this means that Limited Partnerships are better suited for a passive investment style with investors coming in as Limited Partners and providing money and resources to earn a return on investment, and the General Partner being the one making the business decisions and managing the operations.
Since your other partners/investors will be, or want to be, actively involved in the business, a Limited Partnership doesn't sound like a good match for you.
You could go into business as just you. We call that being a "Sole Proprietor". But, it isn't typically recommended.
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