Understanding Stock: A Comprehensive Guide to Small Business Glossary

What is Stock?

Stock refers to the ownership units or shares of a company that are available for purchase in the financial markets. Investors who buy stock essentially become partial owners of the company and are entitled to a portion of its profits.

Types of Stock

When it comes to stocks, there are different types that serve various purposes. The most common types include:

  • Common Stock: This type of stock represents the majority of shares and grants voting rights to the shareholders. Common shareholders may receive dividends but are last in line to claim company assets in case of bankruptcy.
  • Preferred Stock: Preferred stockholders have a higher claim on the company’s assets and earnings compared to common stockholders. They receive dividends before common shareholders. However, preferred stockholders usually do not possess voting rights.

Key Concepts Related to Stock

Before diving deeper into the world of stocks, it is important to understand several key concepts:

  1. Stock Market Exchanges: These are the platforms where stocks are bought and sold, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the Nasdaq.
  2. Share Price: The price at which a single share of stock is traded on the stock market.
  3. Dividends: A portion of a company’s profits that is distributed to its shareholders.
  4. Market Capitalization: The total value of a company’s outstanding shares, calculated by multiplying the share price by the number of shares.
  5. Stock Index: A measurement of the performance of a specific group of stocks, representing a sector or the overall market, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

How to Read a Stock Table

When researching stocks, investors often come across stock tables in newspapers or websites. These tables provide important information about a particular company’s stock. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements:

Column Information Provided
Symbol The stock’s ticker symbol, which is used to identify it on the stock exchange.
Last Price The price at which the stock last traded.
Change The difference between the previous day’s closing price and the current price.
% Change The percentage change in the stock’s price.
Volume The number of shares traded during a given period, typically a day.

Benefits and Risks of Investing in Stocks

Investing in stocks can offer several advantages, but it is essential to consider the potential risks as well.


  • Potential for high returns
  • Opportunity to grow wealth over time
  • Ownership and voting rights in the company
  • Liquidity, allowing for easy buying and selling of shares


  • Volatility and potential for losses
  • No guaranteed income or dividends
  • Market and economic risks
  • Company-specific risks

Stocks play a crucial role in the world of finance and investing. Understanding the basics of stock ownership, the various types, and key concepts allows entrepreneurs and investors to make informed decisions. Investing in stocks can be a rewarding strategy for growing wealth, but it’s important to consider the risks involved and conduct thorough research before making any investment decisions.