A sole trader is totally responsible for the small business in every aspect. You take all the profits and benefits from the small business, at the same time you are totally liable for any debts incurred in your small business, not being paid by your customers is not a defense. This liability includes all your personal belongings, your house and all it’s contents, talk to your partner about this, it will effect him/her too.
Being a sole-trader does not mean you work alone, some sole-traders employ other people. Again you would be totally liable for paying wages, insurance, etc.
Many small businesses start out as sole-traders and then change in a different for like a LLC (US) or Limited Company (UK). Maybe a trip to an accountant, for a free (always think bootstrapping) consultation would be in order, these guys can tell you all the in’s and out’s of your choice. ST.
Disclaimer: As with any of my readers questions, I do not have all the answers and here on my blog I can only give you some ideas, since I know very little about your small business. If any of you can add anything here do so for the benefit of my reader, who asked the question and everybody else, leave a comment below – I’d be most grateful.