Starting a business as a minor: a checklist
- Gerdine Annaars
- Step-by-step plan
- 12 Sept 2021
- Edited 20 Nov 2023
- 4 min
Even under-18s can start their own business, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind. With this checklist, you can make sure that you are fully prepared, and do not miss anything.
Tip for younger reader: If you do not understand every word you come across, check out our glossary for young entrepreneurs.
Tip for parents: Are you reading this article because your child is looking to start a business? Check out our tips for parents of young entrepreneurs.
1. Share your plans at home and at school
Starting a business is a decision with consequences. For example, for your education and your tax return. So talk to your parents first. And discuss your plans with school. Some courses have special arrangements for enterprising young people. For example, you may be given time off school if you have to do something important for your business. Think of an appointment with a supplier that really cannot take place outside school hours. Or an entrepreneurial competition abroad.
Compulsory education and qualification requirement
According to the Compulsory Education Act, you have to go to school until you are 16. If you are 16 or 17, the qualification obligation applies. You must then follow full-day education and may not have a full-time job or business. Unless you have a so-called starting qualification. In the Netherlands, that is a havo, vwo, or mbo level 2 diploma.
Video: Starting your own business? Phine (aged 11) offers smart tips
2. Make sure you are allowed to trade
There is no minimum age to start your own business. However, you do need permission to start a business from your parent or guardian. Trading might include ordering stuff for your business, opening a shop on an online platform, or contracting with a payment service. Your parents or guardian are liable for this. If you incur debts or damages with your business, they are responsible. Your parents can reverse your purchase or contract if they disagree.
Are your parents divorced? Most parents have joint custody and then decide together on what you do. Sometimes the parenting plan contains other agreements about this.
Limited legal capacity
Not all companies want to do business with entrepreneurs under the age of 18. You can solve this if you are 16 or 17 with legal limited capacity, which makes you legally considered an 18-year-old.
3. Arrange your money matters
Writing a business plan is good preparation for your entrepreneurship. Money matters are part of this plan: how much money do you need to start your own business? Maybe you have enough savings or someone in the family will lend or give you money. If you borrow money, make clear agreements about when and how you have to repay.
Have you thought about crowdfunding? You then tell lots of people about your plan and ask them to put money into it.
4. Check your student finance or child benefits
Are you doing a college or university degree and do you fall under the student loan system? Then it does not matter how much you earn on top. Do you receive a grant, loan, or travel product for an intermediate vocational programme? Then there is an additional earning limit of €16,121.60 in 2023. It concerns your aggregate income, so do you have a secondary job in addition to your business? Then the wages from your side job also count.
What you earn with your own business does not affect the child benefit your parents receive. Nor does your income count towards the child budget.
5. Get to know the rules
Some rules apply to all companies. But there are often additional rules. These depend on the type of business you are starting. 3 examples:
- Are you going door-to-door to sell your stuff? Then you need a permit from the municipality.
- Are you selling food or drinks? Then you need to comply with food safety rules.
- Are you starting a webshop? Then look into the regulations for webshops.
6. Open a bank account
A business account is an account specifically for your business. This is the account that your customers pay money into and your business expenses come out of. Opening a business account can be difficult if you are a minor, but it is not impossible. Find out more about opening a bank account as a minor.
7. Limit your risks
Entrepreneurs run risks. Here is just one example: you work for a customer and accidentally break something. Consider taking out business liability insurance for such situations. Check the insurance conditions before you decide and reach out to the insurer or insurance broker. Ask if they offer insurance to minors. And if the insurer will pay out to a minor in the event of damage.
8. Investigate how much tax you have to pay
Entrepreneurs pay tax on what they earn. This is called income tax. You have to file your tax returns yourself, even though you are not yet 18. You pay taxes in Box 1. Find out if you are entitled to tax , as this can save you a lot of money.
You usually have to file a VAT return every quarter. Check with the tax administration if this also applies to you. In some cases, the Small Businesses Scheme (Kleineondernemersregeling, KOR) may be a smart choice. Under this scheme, you do not have to keep VAT records and file VAT returns.