Some Big Life Lessons Learned From Having A Lemonade Stand
This weekend our community hosted a parade of garage sales. As soon as we knew it was planned, the kids started asking if they could have a lemonade stand.
I’ve helped them with their entrepreneurial ventures a couple times in the past.
2 years ago I helped them make some homemade lemonade (fresh squeezed organic lemons, filtered water, cane sugar) and my wife helped them make a big sign on a poster board. I took them over to the local skateboard park with a cooler for our supplies, and we set up in the middle where I expected they’d get a lot of business.
My kids are both pretty reserved and shy, so they sat on the bench beside me and waited quietly for someone to come buy some lemonade from them. It was a warm day, and I was really surprised at how many people walked by, glanced at their sign and then kept on walking. They only managed to sell a few glasses, all to one of the Moms from their school, so that first attempt was a bit of a bust.
Last year they asked if they could have their own corner in our garden to grow their own vegetables. Late in the summer we picked a bunch of what they had grown, bagged it up, made a sign for organic veggies and set up near a busy intersection.
This time they had cars stopping before we were hardly even out of the car. One car drove by and rolled down the window to say he didn’t have time to stop and buy anything, but tossed some change to the kids to reward them for their initiative.
Another gentleman stopped, picked out about $12 worth of potatoes, lettuce, kale and spinach, then handed them a $20 and said “good job, keep the change”.
A few minutes later their uncle and cousins drove by, so they decided to pack up the stand and go home to play. That 15 or 20 minutes generated about $40 for them out of a few dollars of seeds though.
Saturday’s Lemonade Stand Was Their Best Venture Yet
The garage sale started at 9am on Saturday, and it was a cool overcast day. Since they only planned to sell lemonade and cookies we suggested they could also offer coffee in case people wanted a warm drink.
They set up their table right at the front of the garage where everyone would have to walk past them to get in and see the items for sale.
They had made a nice big, bright sign, and had all their supplies ready to sell.
They decided to offer a package of one glass of lemonade and 2 cookies for $2. Coffee was $1 a glass.
Right from the time the sale started they began having sales. Some people only wanted a cookie, so they sold it to them for 50 cents.
Others didn’t want anything, but handed them a dollar or two just to reward their kidpreneurial spirit.
At the end of the day, they had made $65! After we calculated the cost of their raw materials like cups, lemons, cookies and sugar, they had tripled their investment. Not a bad return.
Here Are Some Of The Big Life Lessons I Hope They Learned From Their Lemonade Stand
- Profits are better than wages: Nothing about this little business of theirs was tied to linear income. They didn’t have to work a certain amount of hours for a set wage. They did end up sitting at their table most of the day, but they could also take turns managing the lemonade stand while one of them went in to eat, go play for a bit, or visit other garage sales.In recent weeks they’ve come with me to help my parents get their house ready to sell, and have been paid $2/hr. While they enjoy getting paid and having money to spend, working 4 or 5 hours for $10 is much more effort than selling a glass of lemonade and some cookies in minutes for the same $2.
- Be prepared to innovate: While they initially only planned to offer lemonade and cookies, the cool weather made having a hot drink a wise addition. At the end of the day, their coffee sales were about a third of their total sales.By matching their products to the needs of their customers they were able to increase their profits.
- Treat your customers well: Although the kids are quite shy, once they did engage with the customers and respond to their questions, people often bought more or left a tip.A smile goes a long way. If you don’t make eye contact with people, and greet them when they approach it’s easier for them to ignore you and walk right on by.
- Leverage is powerful: When I sat with the kids and totaled up their earnings, and deducted their expenses I made sure to point out how they had turned $20 in supplies into $45 in pure profit. That’s leverage at work. Taking inexpensive raw materials, and finding a way to make them more valuable to the market. If I had tripled my initial investment on every venture I’d ever attempted, I’d be a very wealthy man today.
Big Life Lessons I Learned From My Kids’ Lemonade Stand
- Take more pictures! I’m always forgetting to have a camera ready and rarely remember to take photos. This morning I asked my wife if she got a picture of the kids sitting at their lemonade stand, which she didn’t either. I would love to have a photo to share here with you (those aren’t my kids in the picture above), and more importantly to have commemorating the occasion. It’s already hard to believe how quickly they are growing up, and someday I’m sure I’ll wish I had taken more photos. Lesson: With today’s cell phones, there’s no excuse not to snap a quick photo.
- Give people the opportunity to give you money. At least 10% of the money the kids earned on Saturday was straight tips, and yet none of us thought of putting out a tip jar. Lesson: People often want to give us money, and we don’t make it easy for them to do it.
- Location, location, location. Our house is in a acreage community, and we are on the second road into the subdivision. We could see a lot of cars stopping at our neighbours house (on the first street) and then turning on our road, but going the other direction. There was a small sign at the end of our driveway put up by the realtor who organized the event, but it wasn’t very obvious. We quickly made a big, bright “Garage Sale” sign on a poster board and put it on the other side of our driveway facing our neighbour’s house. Soon after, most of those cars started coming towards our house instead of turning the other way. Lesson: If you can’t change your location, find a way to direct traffic towards it.
I’m sure we’ll get other opportunities to share our kids’ entrepreneurial pursuits. Even their school teaches an entrepreneur class and they’re both still in elementary school.
While I’m sure some of these lessons learned from a lemonade stand didn’t sink in for them as well as I’d like (they still wanted to go spend some of their earnings on candy), I believe teaching these lessons early will set them up better for later in life, and hopefully they’ll know they can design their work around their life and passions, and not have to go down the road most people do leading to frustration, struggle and emptiness.
Did you ever have a lemonade stand? What were some of the biggest lessons you or your children learned from having a lemonade stand?
Leave me a comment below and let me know what you learned.