This week marks genConnect’s first ever Entrepreneur week in recognition of Lemonade Day, a nationwide celebration on May 1 that focuses on teaching younger generations how to start and run their own business through building a lemonade stand.
As a site that connects you to world-class experts across categories, today we are connecting you with the true experts behind the planning, building and running of the 120,000 lemonade stands throughout the country—the kids!
Tap into the brilliant minds of these mini-entrepreneurs by reading their lemonade stand goals, business tips, and lessons learned below. Plus get an inside look at the personal stories behind their success.
“To be a sole entrepreneur or to enter into partnership?”
The biggest crossroad this 8-year-old faced when opening his first business revolved around the agonizing decision of whether to be a sole entrepreneur or to go into partnership with his buddy. On one hand, Ayman felt that being a sole entrepreneur would limit the amount of customers he could serve at a time, while, on the other hand, he was nervous about his potential partner having his own take on how to go about the business. Support of his friend in undertaking this task was very important to him while his friend’s customer service skills were a big concern. The idea of sharing his profits vs. paying someone to work for him was also a big deal.
The initial reaction of someone deciding to go into business for themselves is to surround themselves with family and friends without regard to their depth of knowledge for the business or their contribution as it pertains to the business at hand. At times, this is the biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make as down the road, inexperience and family/friend issues can get in the way and create problems. Ayman has decided to be the master of his own fate and go into business as a sole entrepreneur. To overcome his issue of short handedness, he is employing his older sisters. When asked about how he came to this decision he answered: “Employees can be fired but partners cannot! “
“Investors aren’t always the ones you think of first OR always have a Plan B”
Shea had a great idea for a location and investor for her lemonade business. She wrote a letter …
Dear Mr. Trump,
My name is Shea. I am 6 years old. I am in first grade at elementary school in Virginia. I am a quality student. I am writing to you because I am learning about money.
On May 1, 2011, I am going to be part of National Lemonade Day and have my very own lemonade stand. My dad is building it. My mom is helping me with stuff like how much money I need from my piggy bank and finding the perfect spot for my stand and asking The Giant to donate lemons and writing to you.
Can I set up my lemonade stand at your golf course in Sterling, Virginia? I want to make a lot of money. I pinky promise to pay back everyone who helps me. They are called investors. I will put some money back in my piggy bank. I will donate the rest.
I can’t get a cell phone until I am 10 years old but you can call my mom’s phone XXX-XXX-XXXX. I get home from school at 4 o’clock. I have gymnastics on Tuesdays and Thursdays but I will tell my mom that I need to talk to you when you call.
Your future apprentice,
After all, who could say ‘no’ to such a brilliant, budding entrepreneur? Weeks past and no response from Donald Trump – Shea sprung into action when she realized her first plan might not work out. Shea spoke to their favorite local restaurant about her plans, her challenges and her new ideas. The restaurant was so moved by her story, not only did they give her permission to have her stand at their restaurant but they are doing everything they can to make her stand a success – advertising it on their website, offering specials and connecting to the community. Talk to everyone about your business – spending too much effort on the “perfect” investor may make you miss the opportunity right in front of you. OR don’t wait ’til Donald Trump doesn’t reply to make a rain plan.
Ethan – 7 yrs old, Business: Rocketship lemonade stand; opened: May 2, 2010
“Have a well articulated business plan with stated goal”
Last year, Ethan worked really hard preparing for Lemonade Day and snagged a spot at the Best Tasting Lemonade Contest. When he saw his competition that day – and ultimately didn’t win the contest – he was more determined than ever to step up his game. He worked with his dad to build a 7-foot rocket ship sign to advertise his stand, he asked his mom if he could get business cards to hand out to teachers and other kids at school and he added a blueberry-flavored lemonade to his menu. On Lemonade Day, Ethan set up his stand outside the public library. One woman who was going into the library stopped at his stand. Ethan proceeded to tell her all about Lemonade Day and that he was earning money to buy a special book on Amazon.com. He knew how much the book cost, including shipping charges. The woman asked if she could write a check to pay for her lemonade and wrote a check to cover the full cost of the book (including shipping). After the woman had gone into the library, Ethan and his parents noticed that the woman had written in the note field on the check ‘I believe in you.’
“Unique product and location”
If there’s a national Lemonade Day where everyone in your city is filling every park and street corner peddling lemonade, how do you make your product stand out? “I made something different – which I don’t think anyone else did – which was limeade, which did pretty good,” said Sebastian. What’s more – rather than set up a stand in his driveway, a street corner or a park, he chose a restaurant; a well trafficked business, too. In any business, location and product are key. If you don’t have a good product, you can’t set up next door to a business with the same product.
Thinking outside the box on where to establish your business and how to set it apart from the other products in an over-saturated market are an important part of starting your own business. Follow up: This year, Sebastian is using his success from last year in planning a new location for his stand, Berry Pop Frozen Yogurt. “I know more people will come because who doesn’t love a Berry Pop?” Sebastian asked. “They might want to come and get some lemonade, and, with that, they might want to go into Berry Pop’s; so I may bring in some more customers for Berry Pop.”
“Fail fast and then fix it”
Lydia’s first lemonade stand was a success. In her own words, “the first time I had the opportunity to run a business it was hard, fun, and stressful. While running a lemonade stand I learned that it is not easy to operate a successful business.” But that year, Lydia won the ‘Best Tasting’ contest, reached her goals – and even got a visit from Jeff Bagwell, former professional baseball star with the Houston Astros.
However, her second year, she did not win ‘Best Tasting’ and she decided to move her stand location – it didn’t work out for her. Her stand was not as successful but it taught her that businesses will have their ups and down as the years go on. Despite failures from last year, Lydia decided to stay involved in Lemonade Day. Learning from last year though, she is changing her location. Her goals are simple: To be successful and for everyone to know about Lydia’s Homemade Lemonade – the Best Tasting Lemonade in the state of Texas.
Many businesses open with a punch of success at first – especially if they have received great press leading up to the opening – but then, business lags; decisions are made that don’t work. Take risks, fail fast and then, fix it fast.
Lemonade Day was launched in 2007 through Michael Holthouse’s non-profit, Prepared 4 Life, an organization which helps youth become socially conscious adults, who in turn, will give back to their communities and younger generations. Today Lemonade Day inspires hundreds of thousands, and by 2013, expect to see 1 million lemonade stands across 100 US cities. Click here to learn how you can support Lemonade Day.
To learn more about genConnect’s Entrepreneur Week:
For more stories:
- Interview With Lemonade Day Founder Michael Holthouse on Entrepreneurship
- Part II: Michael Holthouse on The Holthouse Foundation (VIDEO)
- Part III: Michael Holthouse on Lemonade Day (VIDEO)
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