Lessons My Kids Learned from the Lemonade Stand

It’s another sweltering summer day, and my daughters Jesse, 10, and Ruby, 7, are begging me to buy lemons so we can make lemonade. They’re not particularly thirsty. Rather, they’re anxious to make lemonade so they can set up a lemonade stand in front of our Brooklyn apartment building and make some money.

lemonade

It’s a classic childhood entrepreneurial plan—and a great way to teach kids the value of hard work, not to mention some business basics.

By setting up a lemonade stand, kids can learn:

  • How to work as a team.
  • How to handle money.
  • Confidence and self-esteem.
  • Independence.
  • Responsibility.

Though they may not realize it, kids can discover their business strengths through setting up a lemonade stand. Are they good at the creative side of things, like making posters announcing the stand (advertising)? Do they like spreading the word about the product (marketing)? Or do they love keeping track of the money (accounting)?

“It gives you an example of what you could do when you grow up,” says Jesse, who says she likes to run the lemonade stand “because I can get money and then I can buy stuff.”

When we first decided to set up the stand, Jesse and her sister hadn’t considered the hard work involved. But they learned quickly that making the lemonade and setting up a stand wasn’t enough to be successful. In addition to creating a good product (in this case, freshly squeezed raspberry lemonade), it’s also important to create a budget and a business plan—or else it’s a money-losing operation. In the old days, kids charged maybe 25 cents a cup. But with the rising cost of lemons (especially organic ones!), in order to make a profit, my kids charge $1.00.

Plus, it’s important to get the word out. Parents can help their kids promote the sale via social media (your Facebook friends would love to see pictures of the kids selling lemonade!) or by putting up flyers at local businesses. Jesse and Ruby made colorful signs that they hung around the neighborhood.

Once the stand was set up, they sat quietly as people walked by, until they realized how to be effective salespeople. “You can’t just sit there,” Jesse told me. “You need to say something to people who are walking by, so they know what you’re doing.”

Kids can discover their business strengths through setting up a lemonade stand.

The girls’ hard work paid off. Though it may not be the case for everyone, Jesse and Ruby were able to recoup their initial investment in lemons and sugar, which they then split. Not bad for a few hours work! Of course, it helped that it was a particularly hot day, and we live near a popular park.

While it’s tempting to set up a business with a group of friends, Jesse advises you might want to keep the numbers small. “Doing a stand with one other person is good because you won’t be so lonely and bored sitting out there for a long time, and you don’t have to share the money with too many people.” Clearly, she’s a budding businesswoman.

Do the kids in your life have the entrepreneurial spirit? Share these tips for setting up a lemonade stand with them:

  • Draw up goals.
  • Find a good location.
  • Create a budget (including your list of supplies).
  • Make a good product (parents should help cut lemons).
  • Consider selling other products (such as cookies) along with lemonade.
  • Price reasonably (keeping in mind neighborhood standards).
  • Get the word out.
  • Be good salespeople. You’ll want return customers.
  • Have fun!

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