Can a Teenager Start a Company?
Updated: Feb 15, 2019
As many a young entrepreneur once pondered, how old do you have to be to finally put that billion dollar idea into the market? In the age of the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel, the "model entrepreneur" has grown ever younger, and thousands of ambitious teenagers have taken to the market to test the viability of their business ideas. As technology has progressed and digital marketing has allowed businesses to reach thousands of prospective customers at costs as low as 5 to 10 dollars. This not only means that existing businesses can lower their advertising costs significantly, but it also lowers the threshold for entry into an industry. A young girl with $100 in her pocket and a strong work ethic can now gain insights on that million dollar idea which would have taken thousands of dollars to do 10 years ago. This raises the question: how old do children have to be before they can begin their journey into entrepreneurship?
To actually incorporate/start a business, there is no legal age limit outside of a few states which require you to be a legal adult (18). The quickest way to find this out is simply to Google whether your state is one of them. If it is, no need to worry, simply bring in one of your parents as a minority owner in the business and have them incorporate it for you. Then, once you turn 18, you can buy out their equity at a marginal cost. If you don't live in one of these states, you can easily start form a company simply by going to your Secretary of State's Website and filling out the Articles of Incorporation. Once you've done this, congratulations, you're now a legitimate business owner!
As anyone who has started/run a business before will tell you however, incorporating your business may just be the easiest part of starting a company! From my personal experience, there are 2 limiting factors holding back teenagers: lack of experience and lack of funds. Firstly, almost no teenagers have any real experience in their industry due to their age. It is very rare to find a 16 year old who has worked full time in an industry, which means that they often are missing out on the valuable "tricks of the trade", if you will, that those who have been within the industry for a while will have learned and developed. This also means that we are more prone to make mistakes that could have been avoided through time in the industry. As I mentioned earlier in my post however, technology is beginning to make it so that someone doesn't need to spend years in an industry to learn the ins and outs of it, which is a major game changer. Before we started TeenServ, we had absolutely zero experience in the lawn care sector outside of mowing a few neighbors lawns. Fortunately, a few hours spent on various lawn care forums and boards allowed us to gather information about our industry and avoid mistakes simply by reading and learning from other business owners mistakes. That's not to say we haven't made mistakes, but it's certainly saved us some hassle on multiple occasions.
Finally, many teenagers are unable to/reluctant to take a chance on their great ideas due to a lack of available money. Although the costs of starting, operating, and advertising for a startup have certainly come down over the years; it still takes a fair amount of money for most people to start seeing any real traction in their companies. As a teenager, you can't take on a full time high paying job yet (and probably don't want to!) so you are left with two options: borrow money from your parents or go door to door trying to mow lawns. Most people I know wouldn't want to borrow money from their parents knowing that there's a risk of it all being lost (and most parents are hesitant to even loan their kids that kind of money!), so we can effectively rule that option out for our purposes. Secondly, knocking door to door looking to mow lawns. This is one of the most tried and true ways to make quick and easy money and has been done ever since our grandparents are kids. The downside of this, however, is that it can take long hours of awkward door to door conversation before you find someone willing to pay you to mow their lawn, and even then you have to hope that they'll hire you next week (and next year!).
That's why we started TeenServ, to give ambitious, hardworking teenagers like us (and you!) a viable option to make money on your schedule. We take the hassle of going door to door out of the picture, and instead allow you to simply go on our website and view the many available jobs we have posted by residents in your area. With TeenServ, you don't have to worry about cultivating relationships with customers or trying to negotiate a fair price: we do that all for you. All you have to do is go out and complete the job, so you can focus your time (and now money!) on starting your own business, whatever that may be. As one of our founders put it, you're like an Uber driver for lawn work! If you're in the Northern Virginia area, you can start using TeenServ to make money right now (https://www.teenserv.com/findwork). If you aren't all you have to do is sign up to get added to our text list and we'll let you know as soon as we're in your area, which will hopefully be very soon!
So, in summary, I absolutely believe that any teenager who is willing to dream big and work hard can be successful in business; I've been able to do it myself since the age of 15! At TeenServ, we are all about supporting young entrepreneurs, and look forward to seeing the next generation join us in making our world a better place for business.
Co Founder, TeenServ, LLC