Teaching kids entrepreneurship through a lemonade stand

Do you want your kid to learn about entrepreneurship? Have them run a lemonade stand!

Business is a constant topic of conversation in our house. Last year, my son, Parsa, decided to produce and sell little phone holders using his 3D printer. He did well.

This year, he wanted to do a lemonade stand with our neighbors’ kids. Planning for, launching, and running a lemonade stand was a fantastic opportunity for him and his friends to learn about different aspects of running a business.

From strategic planning to talent acquisition to customer service, doing a lemonade stand is like a mini MBA for kids and perhaps even adults.

Teaching Kids Entrepreneurship

Check out how these five areas teach your kids (and you) to think and operate like a true entrepreneur.

1. Strategic Planning

Yep, the first step in teaching kids entrepreneurship via a lemonade stand requires a strategic plan just like a real business:

  1. The Why: Borrowing from Simon Sinek, what is the big WHY? In our case, the kids wanted to make money AND benefit our local animal shelter. 
  2. The When: Planning for the right dates and times proved crucial to the success of the stand. In our case, the kids had to research weather prediction, study the traffic flow, and determine the duration of their operation.
  3. The Where: Another big strategic decision. The kids decided to ask a neighbor who lives at a busy intersection to allow them to set up their stand on his sidewalk.  In exchange, they offered that neighbor free lemonade and cookies.
  4. The What: What will they sell? What does the market need? What could differentiate them? The kids had to do a whole lot of research to arrive at their offerings. Ultimately, they decided to sell lemonade and cookies and upsell with mint sprigs, cilantro sprigs, and lemon slices.
  5. The How Much: From cost plus intended profits to market-based pricing, the kids  arrived at the price per cup, price per cookie, and all the wonderful upsells.
Two Kids Planning The Lemonade Stand

2. Go to Market

From figuring out what to buy (cups, lots of lemon juice, sugar, peanut butter for the cookies) to creating the most unique piece of advertisement, the kids learned what it means to plan for a successful launch.

Of course, yours truly had to shoulder the cost of all purchases and the kids didn’t have to worry about raising capital to launch their stand…the wonderful joys of not having to worry about fundraising!

All that said, the act of figuring out what they needed to do and when in order to launch successfully was a great experience in creating a robust go-to-market strategy.

The kids asked me to advertise on Nextdoor the day of and the day before the launch. They also asked me to ensure all the supplies and raw materials were delivered on Thursday night, two days before the grand opening.

3. Operational Excellence

I have to be honest, I would hire my boy as a COO of Call Emmy in a heartbeat if he were 10 years older. I loved seeing how he operated the stand with so much focus and determination.

Kids Working At The Lemonade Stand

Okay, I admit it, I am biased. My son, like his mom, is an alpha and somewhat of a well, control freak. So, with precision and focus, he sold cookies and lemonade, kept the records accurate, flagged down the passing cars, served the lemonade in colorful cups, and counted the money.

That was all good from the “running a tight-ship” perspective but not so good when you think teamwork and collaboration…

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

The kids agreed on individual areas of focus. They also attempted to stay focused and not get in the way of each other but, well, they are kids so naturally, they got distracted and bored, and when that happened, a bit of drama followed.

Well, honestly, what I observed didn’t look that different from what I had observed in my life as a corporate executive! Despite initial agreements, someone somewhere veered off from what they were supposed to be doing and…drama…chaos… more drama would follow.

Sometimes the parties would work through their disagreements and other times, well, not so much!

In our situation, the kids were able to bounce back and work together collaboratively again. I was glad that they were able to face and work through this challenge at ages 4, 7, and 9 without any involvement from HR or professional therapy.

5. Customer Obsession

As a former customer experience executive and someone who prides herself on creating a customer-centric culture, I loved how my son and his friends delivered the promise of customer experience.

They were intentional about each and every customer connection. From delivering the cups to people who didn’t want to get out of their cars to explaining patiently how the lemonade was made, they won the hearts of every single neighbor who stopped by.

Ultimately, the amount of tips received was three times as much as what they had earned in sales. Moreover, some customers came back, and this time, with family and friends. 

Teaching Kids Entrepreneurship – Closing Statements

Overall, teaching kids entrepreneurship through a lemonade stand was an outstanding experience and project for my kiddo and hopefully his friends.

The grand total of sales is still under examination. My guess is that it is about $100 and the share of the animal shelter would be about $40. Why we don’t know our numbers, you might ask!

Well, remember, the drama? We had a bit of drama when two strongly opinionated people, one of them being a school-aged boy, had a difference of opinion about accounting methods. Hence, the proceeds are yet to be accurately counted and recorded.

I hope you use these last few weeks of Colorado summer weather as an opportunity to develop a lemonade stand with your kiddos. It is an educational and fun experience for the whole family. Along the way, you can benefit your favorite charity by donating some of your proceeds and get to meet the neighbors who have lived down the street from you for the past 10 years but you’ve never met.

And who knows, you might find some new friends or discover some long-lost ones, all because of a simple lemonade stand. Go for it and let us know how it goes.

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