Lessons at the Lemonade Stand

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When I was a young girl, summer days had their fair share of running barefoot through the sprinklers and picnic lunches, but it was at the lemonade stand where I learned about the “real world”.  My best friend and I would set up the stand on the corner of our street, make the lemonade, set the price (10 cents a cup), put out our sign, and bring the cash box out.  We would chant to passerbys and attract as much attention as we could.  It was there I discovered a lot about myself (I liked earning money), and a lot about economics and how business works.  This summer, why not encourage your kids to set up a business they care about? 

Several moms I know have turned their young children’s’ interests in to businesses that they run together (one sells her own handcrafted tutu designs on-line, and the other makes and sells beaded jewelry).  Having hands-on experience running a business at a young age can really inspire your child to take their hobbies and passion to the next level.  Even if it becomes just a passing interest, the lessons they’ll learn at the lemonade stand (or wherever) will be invaluable.  Here’s what I learned all those years ago.

1.  Make sure you like and trust your partner. Fighting can kill desire (and profit).

2.  Find a partner with skills that compliment your own.  My friend was good at promotions.  The sign was pretty; she had a good personality and knew a lot of people.  I was better at the business side of things, making sure that the lemonade and the cups never ran out.

3.  Pay attention to outside forces working for and against you.  The weather had to be right — if it was too cold or too hot then no one was out to buy.  The rain killed business altogether.  Obviously, things sell when there is a demand for it.  Cold lemonade near a soccer field where there were games going on meant lots of sales. 

4.  Make sure your “lemonade” can hold its own with the competition.  If you price it too high (and there’s nothing special or different about it) prospects will go elsewhere.

5.  Know what you need to sell to break even.  Setting a competitive, realistic price means first knowing what you need to make to pay for the entire inventory.  If making a profit would mean pricing the item well above what people will pay for the good, then don’t bother selling it.

6.  You can do it!  The most valuable lesson of all was that I (at age eight) was capable of earning money on my own.  Nothing felt better than that!  It gave me such a rush of confidence that I was eager to go out and earn more money.

Make sure your kids get a taste of starting something up themselves and earning money from it, and they’ll reap rewards long after the “lemonade stand” has closed up shop.

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