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Curious Kids: How do you start your own company?

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Whether big or small, if you see something that people need, you can start a company. Tony Anderson/Stone via Getty Images

Darryl Scriven, Clarkson University and Robyn Hannigan, Clarkson University


Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to

How do you start your own company? — Noah H., Conway, South Carolina

Have you ever heard the expression “No guts, no glory”? Making your own business starts with guts. If you’re someone who likes to take risks and has great ideas, starting your own company could be for you.

There are different kinds of companies that you could start. You could start a company producing something you invented, like an iPhone or a mobile app. Or you could start a company that licenses the brand of an existing company, such as McDonald’s or Subway. Companies like this are called franchises.

Between the two of us, we’ve started mobile gaming companies, owned franchises and created biotechnology companies from patented inventions. One of us is an analytical geochemist – someone who measures chemicals – with inventions including a chemical detector that measures metals in air, which in turn allows us to find and remove bad metals like mercury from smokestacks. This and other inventions were spun into a new company with her students. The other of us has started companies that provide everyday goods and services, from building houses to hosting birthday parties. Even though the companies we started are very different, both of us are what are called entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are those who start a company, identify needs and bring together the people, materials and money required to meet that need. Everything you buy is to meet a need you have, and somewhere, some entrepreneur started a company to meet your needs. Whether you’re going solo or have a team, you can be an entrepreneur and start your own company.

Starting your own company

There are five basic steps to starting your own company:

1) Need: The first step is identifying the want or need you intend to meet. What do you hear people saying that they love? What do they complain about? What do you always say would make life easier? Once you figure out what people are yearning for and who exactly your target customers are through some market research, then you’re ready for the next step in starting your company.

2) Idea: The second step in starting a company is coming up with an idea that meets the want or need you identified. Is it an invention that takes out the garbage? Is it a better hamburger? A great idea that meets a want or a need can be complex, like a smartphone, or it can be simple, like bottled water.

3) Product: The third step is figuring out how you will provide the product or service. Will you create and sell a new kind of hamburger, or will you offer an existing kind of hamburger where it isn’t currently available? If you plan to create and sell something all on your own, you will found a startup. If you plan to offer something that already exists in a new area, you would buy into a franchise.

An African-American woman with surgical protective mask holding open sign in front of her small business store.
Starting your own company takes guts. ljubaphoto/E+ via Getty Images

4) Setup: Next, you’ll set up your company. There are many resources available to help you do this. The first thing you will do as a startup is become a legal entity, or a business on paper. This step may require an attorney, because there are many structures your business could take, and you will need to choose the right one. Then off to the bank to set up an account so you can start receiving money and paying your bills.

5) Market: Lastly, you will need to market your product. Whether you find your own customers or hire someone to do it, you’ll need to let people know that you have a product or service that is worth paying for. You can have the best company in the world that makes the best products, but your potential customers have to know about it in order for you to be successful. With all of this information in mind, you’ll write a business plan that provides the details of your product or service as well as your plan for funding and growth. The plan answers all of the questions of who, what, where, why and how. The more detailed this information is, the more likely someone will want to invest in your ideas and help grow your company.

Before we dreamed of being entrepreneurs or starting companies, we were kids who were curious, asked lots of questions and wanted to make the world a better place. Starting a company is a great way to do that. The company you start may literally change the world.

So don’t delay; the world is waiting for you.

Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to Please tell us your name, age and the city where you live.

And since curiosity has no age limit – adults, let us know what you’re wondering, too. We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.The Conversation

Darryl Scriven, Dean of Arts & Sciences, Clarkson University and Robyn Hannigan, Provost, Clarkson University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.