Volume 4 Issue 7



Lessons from the Lemonade Stand

When someone asks me when my entrepreneurial career began, they’re surprised to hear that I was only 7. While that might seem young, it’s how many of us started – on our parents front lawn, selling a product to neighbors. Whether we’re selling lemonade, or in my case it was baseball cards, many of us experienced many of the same challenges at 7 that we do much later in life. Here are 5 lessons we can learn from the lemonade stand:


It all begins with an idea. For some of us we start with what we’re good at, while others start where they see the biggest opportunity. For me, I was an avid baseball card collector. I knew I could buy cards cheap or build sets at a low cost from packs and sell them at a higher margin. As I got older, I perfected my craft to evaluate how to buy low and sell high. As entrepreneurs, we need to always identify what it is we’d like to sell, but more importantly, make sure there is a market for those products or services. Selling lemonade in the Summer makes sense, but if we don’t switch to hot chocolate in the winter, we’re not adjusting to our market demands.


Understanding who your target customer is and that they are within your geographic area are an important start to the marketing process. If you’re starting a lawn mowing business, you’d be more likely to target busy adults who do not have children at home that can help or older adults who would gladly pay for these services. If you’re starting a lemonade stand, you might look at what time families go for walks around your neighborhood and target them. Understanding this will help insure that our audience is large enough to start your business, while also helping to shape how you market your services.


The first place to start is by establishing a brand. A lemonade stand with a hand-made sign that reads “Gil’s Thirst Quenching Lemonade, only $.25” is as sophisticated as we need it to be in the early stages of our career. It shows we took the time to build our location, give it a name, tell people our unique selling proposition (USP) that it quenches your thirst, and that it’s affordable. As we build our companies much later in life, many of these same principals will apply.


When I first started, I would sell cards on my front lawn knowing there were kids in the neighborhood that would come by. As I learned there was opportunity in baseball card sales I moved into bigger neighborhoods and partnered with friends. I went where the business was. With lemonade stands, I often see them on the side of the road while there are town parades or neighborhood functions. Understanding your audience and how to be visible to them is key at any age.


Pricing is a challenge for many of us. Our first priority is to understand our cost to be sure we’re profitable. Once we’ve established that, we need to understand our market. If I’m selling the same Don Mattingly 1984 Topps Rookie card as the baseball card up the street, it’s a hard sell to charge more for it than they do. At a lemonade stand however, I have the opportunity to offer a better product than my competitors. Maybe I have a secret ingredient or a special process that allows me to charge more. We don’t always have to have the lowest price. It’s how our product is perceived, and the market we’re selling to that dictate how much we can charge. The lessons we learn at an early age shape who we become. Our entrepreneurial experiences and our education play a key role in our future endeavors. It’s important that we embrace those experiences and continue to learn from them.

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