Despite the economy, my daughter and her friends have had a record-breaking year in the lemonade stand business. At 10 years old, they have figured out a few basic components to running a successful business. In fact, many of their strategies mirror those that Norm Brodsky, senior contributing editor to Inc. Magazine, discovered after judging the Best Lemonade Stand in America contest. Although we were unaware of the contest, the girls made an impact in our area and their pocketbooks with the classic summertime cliche, the lemonade stand.
Build a better lemonade stand:
Location matters. Instead of setting up in front of the house, the girls asked if they could set up on the corner. We live in a quiet neighborhood, so this corner, with a three way stop, sees the most traffic on a daily basis. The neighbor didn't mind, and even let them use one of her card tables.
Keep it legal. News of lemonade stands receiving tickets and having to pay fines for not having proper licensing seems to be increasing. Be sure the area your child sets up shop is OK for this sort of endeavor. Selling lemonade at an art fair, or baseball field, may be trickier than selling on your residential street corner.
Although, Brodsky says, "if you're a young kid you can act wide eyed and naive if someone complains, you probably won't get in trouble." While I wonder about that advice, you may want to stay safe and check with officials.
Expand your horizons. The girls sold more than just lemonade at their stand. In the weeks leading up to the sale, they made duct tape wallets and cookies to sell alongside the refreshing drinks. On the day of the sale, temperatures were at a record high and they added Popsicles to their offerings. Even with a cooler full of ice they only lasted a short while, but the frozen treats were much appreciated by the local dog walkers. Which leads me to remind lemonade stand business owners to think of their potential customers' needs.
Work together. As mentioned, my daughter did not go it alone. Having a friend or two to help share the load is a good idea. Not only is it more fun to run a lemonade stand with others, making the day go faster, the stand will also be more efficient. One person can take the money and figure out change, while the other is pouring the lemonade. It is also safer to have a group of kids rather than a lone individual at a table.
Advertise. One of the main reasons my daughter's lemonade stand did so well was due to the cute fliers she passed out on the days leading up to the sale. The hand-colored papers were given to neighbors and tacked up on posts in the neighborhood. The girls then formally announced their opening day with banners and balloons. Customers were expecting the stand and their pre-planning paid off.
Make it fresh. If you are going to advertise a lemonade for sale, make sure the lemonade tastes good. Watered-down lemonade flavored drink mix is just not the same as fresh lemonade. Whatever brand or recipe you use, be sure to keep it ice-cold. They may sell one cup of lukewarm lemonade due to the cuteness factor, but if they want repeat customers, make a good product.
Even if the lemonade stand does not make a dime, (which has happened on occasion), the key is to enjoy the process. As Brodsky says, "The best words of wisdom I could give to any young entrepreneur is to never give up."
More by Sylvie Branch: