A private company is any corporation that does not have shares publicly traded in the equity markets. Often, a public company will be purchased by a group of investors who make it a private company by de-listing it from a stock exchange. This gives private companies much more leeway in their operations. For instance, they’re not subject to Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) and SEC regulations. In addition, without public shareholder oversight, the managers have much more ability to take calculated risks that focus on long-term business goals rather than just the earning figures for the next quarter. Yet, even though private companies are free from SOX and SEC regulations, they sometimes still have to comply with some of those rules. For instance, if a private company has a contract to do business with a public company, the contract will often require it to comply with SOX regulations even though it is not public. The vast majority of companies in the United States are private, including most mom-and-pop businesses and other small companies that have less than 100 employees. Still, some large corporations appear to be public, but are actually private. For instance, Dell and Mars are both private companies that have well-recognized brands. One disadvantage of owning shares in a private company is that they are highly illiquid. The sales process for selling shares in a private company is very complex, and it often takes months to determine a valuation and sign the transaction agreements.