I want to start a C corp, and I keep coming across the following terms: stakeholder, stockholder, and shareholder. What's the difference between them? I'd appreciate a clear explanation in layman's terms.
Stockholder and Shareholder mean exactly the same thing -- somebody who owns shares of a company's stock. Some state laws (most prominently, Delaware's) use the word 'Stockholder.' Others (any state whose law is based on the Model Business Corporations Act) use the word 'Shareholder.' They're interchangeable.
'Stakeholder' has no legal meaning. It's just a word that means "somebody who has a stake in the outcome of an action." So, you'll hear people talk about "getting buy-in from all the stakeholders" -- that just means that if there's somebody who's going to be affected by your action, you should make sure that they agree with the action.