Can someone under 18 start a business in the US?


I'm 15, and I want to repair computers, which I've recently found out is considered a business even if I just do it from home? Can someone start a business when they're under 18?

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asked Jun 14 '12 at 08:03
148 points
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5 Answers


Your question raises several legal issues:

  1. As concerns whether laws allow a minor to start a business, the answer is "yes".
  2. You mentioned operating the business at home. You need to check with your local government (probably city, possibly county) concerning whether your type of home business is permitted, and how much you will need to pay for a business license.
  3. If you want to create a separate legal entity, such as a corporation, your ability to do so will depend on which state you are in. Please see May a Minor Form a Corporation?.
  4. As a minor, you may enter into binding agreements. However, knowledgeable counterparties will be reluctant to enter into agreements with you because, with certain exceptions, you will have the right to disaffirm those agreements. Please see Contracts with Minors can Lead to Major Problems.

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

answered Jun 15 '12 at 03:06
Dana Shultz
6,015 points


Yes, you definitely can. Be aware of the tax implications though, and if you're organizing a business entity - check with the local law if a minor can be a member/shareholder.

answered Jun 14 '12 at 08:50
5,090 points


You will have problems signing contracts because you are underage. You may not have a big need for this, but there will be other forms that must be filed with the government.

answered Jun 14 '12 at 12:58
Mhoran Psprep
644 points


I would never purposefully attempt to dissuade a budding entrepreneur, but please let me insert a bit of advice. The first company I started was a residential computer service. It is a hard sell. Computers are such commodity devices. They are disposable. Why would someone pay you $250 to fix their computer when they can just replace it for $400-450? The work you do get, half the people will not pay. You have to market far and wide to get enough work to make it worthwhile.

If you have 20-30 people that come to you for computer advice and such, if you start charging for it that number will drop to almost zero. The sad thing with residential computer service is that everyone has a teenager like you that will do the work for free or nearly so. Consumers are cheap. Not to mention that, of the work I did get, lots of the checks I was paid with bounced. You will remove malware and then the next day they will do what you told them not to and go where you advised them not to, it will be back and then they will expect you to come back and fix it for free.

I am not saying to not do it, and I am not saying that it cannot be done. It is just an uphill battle. Be prepared. The way that Geek Squad succeeds is that they can piggyback off of the Best Buy name, both in marketing and overhead.

answered Sep 13 '12 at 08:21
Need A Geek Indy
562 points


Call your local city hall and ask to talk with someone who knows about business licensing. Ask them about age requirements for a license to do business in your city.

I suspect you'll need your parents involved since, as a minor, they are legally responsible for you and your actions. Good luck!

answered Jun 15 '12 at 00:50
Keith De Long
5,091 points

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