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Small Business Lessons from the Lemonade Stand

INTERNATIONAL DELIGHT LEMONADE STANDSLike many kids, I once tried selling lemonade in my neighborhood on a hot, sticky, New Jersey summer day. I was excited when customer after customer handed me a dime in return for a short Dixie Cup of overly-sweetened drink mix. When the lemonade ran out, I was rich! What to buy. . . what to buy. . .

Then my mother informed me that businesses have to pay expenses before claiming the profits. She tallied up the cost of the cups and napkins, sugar and lemonade mix and presented me with the bill. Whoops. Guess I should have charged more per cup. Rather than revise my business plan, I filed for bankruptcy and closed up shop. Thankfully, the bank of mom agreed on a greatly reduced settlement.

Lesson learned.

That was a long time ago, when people still walked around neighborhoods and carried change in their pockets. These days its even harder to run a profitable lemonade stand but lifestyle blogger Kim Stoegbauer from TheTomKatStudio.com has a few tips for young entrepreneurs. (And we won’t tell if grown-up entrepreneurs learn a thing or two as well!)

Donate: Donate the proceeds to a local cause. Or encourage people to pay it forward and buy a cup for a fellow neighbor, the local postal worker, or dog walker! Advertise this on the booth using large signs and have brochures about the local cause available to hand out to customers.

Grown-Up Tip: 41% of consumers bought a product because it was associated with a cause. It’s not only good for business, it’s good for your karma.

Just add Iced Coffee: Expand the offerings to include other beverages like refreshing iced coffee to appeal to parents. While kids enjoy sweet lemonade, parents can sip International Delight Iced Coffee, which offers a variety of authentic coffeehouse flavors and light options for an ice cold pick-me-up that suits every taste.

Grown-Up Tip: This information was sponsored by International Delight (There’s even a fun lemonade stand kit to go with it) but the concept is still sound. Expanding your line to include related items is a great way to add a few dollars to every sale. Yesterday, we went to Starbucks for coffee but ended up buying a muffin and an over-priced bottle of water. Add-ons work.

Promote: Build a marketing campaign for the booth, a great way to meet the neighbors! Your children can create signs to advertise the booth at corners around the neighborhood, directing traffic to the stand. Tell your friends on your private Facebook page or through a text message or email.

Grown-Up Tip: Do I really need to expound on the benefits of wide-spread promotion?

Timing and location are critical: Encourage kids to research events coming up that would have good foot traffic moving past their lemonade stand. For example fairs, baseball games, street festivals and outdoor concerts are great options for good sales.

Grown-Up Tip: Timing is also essential for social media campaigns. You may work 9-5, but if you’re customer shops online at midnight, that’s when she needs to see your sales Tweet. Here’s another post of ours about social media timing.

Incentivize: Create incentive programs to keep children interested in their business throughout the summer. If they choose to donate the earnings, plan a special trip to the organization to drop off the check. Or if they are saving up to purchase something special, establish a “Money Earned” chart showing how close they are to their goal.

Grown-Up Tip: Incentives work for grown-ups, too. Reward your employees with bonus perks especially after a big push to finish a project, run an event or a crazy time of the year. (Christmas in a toy store?) You don’t have to give out expensive gifts, small things like a pizza party for lunch or even a $10 Amazon card goes a long way toward insuring employee loyalty.