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Press release Young bosses in their own companies

Start-ups by minors are a niche phenomenon

Underaged founders are between 15 and 17 years old, predominantly male and have above-average academic performance. They often pursue a business idea with digital connections in IT services or online trade. "On the whole, however, underaged entrepreneurs are a niche phenomenon. According to our estimates, minors realise only 290 to 610 start-ups annually in this country," reports Dr Teita Bijedić. To start a business and run it independently by a minor, a family court must first approve this form of employment.

"Our interviews with underaged founders have shown that they mostly see their start-up as a personal learning and development field – in contrast, financial motives seem to play a secondary role. Nevertheless, the young people proceed strategically: They look for mentors and network partners. At the same time, they invest considerable resources in building up their entrepreneurial skills," says Dr Teita Bijedić, characterising the approach of the study. But even after reaching the legal age, they keep entrepreneurial independence and continue to pursue it alongside dependent employment or vocational training.

Most underage self-employed in Bavaria, North-Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Wuerttemberg

However, minors can become self-employed by setting up a business and earning a profit through inheritance. According to current statistical data, in 2017, around 4,200 minors aged between 7 and 17 in Germany had declared profit income from self-employment in their income tax return. This means 5 out of 10,000 children and young people aged between 7 and 17 are self-employed (0.05%). In contrast, the percentage of self-employed in the population aged between 18 and 65 is 12.8.

Most underaged entrepreneurs are found in Bavaria (24 %), North Rhine-Westphalia (20 %) and Baden-Wuerttemberg (18 %). However, considering the number of children and young people in the age group between 7 and 17 in the federal states, Hamburg has the most underaged entrepreneurs. Followed by Bavaria, the city-state of Berlin, Baden-Württemberg and Schleswig-Holstein.