We Have Lift-Off

From idea to launch in 4 steps

This guide will help you create a basic design for how your business works, how it will make money, and how it can help you achieve your goals. You’ll also get feedback and advice from our community (and your own community) to improve your plan.  This will help you develop a deep understanding of your customers: their problems & desires, where they are, how to reach them, what they think is valuable, how to get them to buy from your business, etc.

Understanding Your Motivation


When you start your own business, you are the boss, the owner. If you wake up and don’t do anything on your business, no one can fire you...but that can also be a problem, nothing gets done! If you understand why you are so passionate about building this business, that passion will keep you going when times get tough. If you know what your goal is, then you can see your progress each day/week/month as you get closer to achieving your goal.


People start businesses for all kinds of reasons, but whatever those reasons or motivations are...they’re very strong! For example, some entrepreneurs don’t want to work for somebody else, some entrepreneurs want to make a difference in the world, some want to make money, some want to be independent, some want to take care of their family, etc...And people’s goals or definitions of success are different. Some people have a financial goal (how much money they want to make), some people want to see their company’s name in stores across the nation, some people want to be able to make their family proud, etc.

REVIEW: Use the following materials to get a better understanding of your motivation to build your business.

Understanding Your Customers


Your business will succeed if you can make or do something valuable for customers, something they will pay you for. But you have to deeply understand your customers in order to make the right products and services for them. In order to deeply understand your customer, you need to study them and talk to them - you want to know as much information as possible about your main type of customer so that you can build your business around your customers.


For example, works with young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. These entrepreneurs are usually working part-time or full-time, some are unemployed or working full-time on their business idea, and some are in college - and some are a combination of all of these life situations! Over 90% of our entrepreneurs identify as Black, Latinx, or Asian. All of them are passionate about building a business and pursuing their dreams. Most of our entrepreneurs don't have a lot of money because they are young, but they still try to make their business work with what they have. They are starting every kind of business - many entrepreneurs are starting businesses in food, clothing/apparel, the trades, or other service-type businesses.

REVIEW: Use the following materials to get a better understanding of your customers and competitors.

Test Your Idea


Anytime you buy something from a business, it is because you think that product or service will solve one of your problems. When you buy some clothing, you think those clothes will make you look the way you want to look. When you buy food from a restaurant, you think that food will taste great, make you less hungry, etc... If you want to make products and services that your customers will love, focus on how you can solve your customer's’ problems. And in order to build these correct products and services, you need to deeply understand their problems.


For example,’s young entrepreneurs often have the following problems: 1. they don’t know all the steps to take to start their business or grow it, 2. they don’t know where to get money for their business, 3. they need business experts who can help them solve specific problems for their business (like questions about business laws and regulations, or how to increase their sales), 4. they want someone who can help them stay accountable to keep working on their business idea and they want to be around other entrepreneurs, 5. they need experienced people who are trustworthy, reliable experts who they can bounce ideas off of and who understand their particular business.

REVIEW: Use the following materials to get a better understanding of how to design and improve the first versions of your product/service.

Make Your First Sales


Get the word out! If no one knows that you are open for business, then no customers spend their money at your business and you can’t grow. Many entrepreneurs are afraid about people stealing their ideas, but you really WANT customers to know about your business. Getting the word out about your business is a big, important job - and it takes time! Start as soon as you can, as soon as you feel comfortable talking to people about your business.


Examples of how to get the word out about your business include: word of mouth, sending an email to all of your friends and family, or throwing a launch event, or passing out flyers where your customers are, building a website, hosting a booth at a festival, giving free samples at a concert, etc. For example, first went out and found two community-based organizations that worked with young adults who wanted to start a business but didn’t know how. Then, pitched their idea for a nonprofit to lots of donors who could fund this work before launching their program. also threw a launch event to attract attention in the community and let everyone know that they were open for business.’s founders emailed family and friends, asked them for referrals, built a website, created flyers, filmed a video with the first successful entrepreneurs in the program. All of this together helped get the word out!

REVIEW: Use the following materials to get a better understanding of the steps needed to get your first sales.