Life lessons from a lemonade stand



The lemonade stand


~When life hands you lemons, make lemonade…and then sell it~


Most, if not all kids have opened up their own lemonade stand selling delicious sugary concoctions at the end of their driveway. 10 cents for a refreshing glass of homemade lemonade (50 cents now with inflation!) on a hot summer’s day, how could anyone resist?


A few weeks ago we were driving past a neighbor’s house and at the end of their driveway was a homemade lemonade stand with 2 young adorable girls standing behind the sign. They had cups, a jug of lemonade and a jar to collect their earnings for the day. We had to stop by and pick up a glass. We were even upsold on some rice crispy treats as we were there (very smart kids).


The look of satisfaction on these kids faces as they collected their money (and their generous tips) and put it into their money jar was priceless. Even more satisfaction came when they saw how much we enjoyed their delicious offerings.



As we left and went home, we talked about the importance of what had just taken place. To tell you the truth, I remember seeing more lemonade stands on the streets of my neighborhood when I was a kid. And I bet my parents had even more lining the streets of their neighborhoods.


It was refreshing to see these kids selling the old school way and putting some sweat equity into it. These girls were physically creating their own product and putting it out there for the world to see without the fear of lack of sales, running out of capital, lack of interest in their product or countless other paralyzing issues that business owners face on a day to day basis. They had confidence in their product and they were out there to give it all they’ve got!


Putting yourself out there like that is hard enough to do as an adult, but these kids were dominating that corner of the neighborhood. And the traffic passing by was perfect for their billboard advertisment for delicious treats.


These kids were learning important life lessons without even realizing it. They were learning how real life transactions worked, how money is exchanged for goods, and the satisfaction of seeing something you created come together in the end.



Kids seem to have less reservations than adults when it comes to selling. They haven’t yet endured the thousands upon thousands of cases of rejection that adults have encountered in their lives.


They are blank slates.


They haven’t yet been tainted by rejection letters from schools, being turned down for a potential job they were excited about, or failing a test they’d put in hours of studying for (and much, much more).


Children haven’t yet developed the fear of rejection that plagues adults.





A lemonade stand is the perfect place to start teaching our kids the raw basics of any business (and life). Lemonade stands are businesses that service a need in the market place. On a hot summer’s day, you’d better believe there will be some parched travellers coming down that street, so why not help them out by giving them a nice juicy glass of lemonade? It’s a great thing when kids get to experience the feeling of satisfaction that comes from creating a product that provides value to people in the marketplace (and it even enhances your kids problem solving skills).


The hand to hand



It’s not just about exchanging lemons for a few cents, it’s about exchanging goods for monetary gain that helps your business grow. It’s also about giving someone something of value for a reasonable price. An honest and fair evaluation of the cost of making a glass of lemonade (or anything you happen to be selling) versus how much someone is willing to pay is crucial to the success of the lemonade stand.


These are perfect points of discussion with our little ones. How much is a fair price to charge someone? Are you offering them something that will provide value to them? Is this a good transaction for both parties? These questions will set up the groundwork for fair and honest transactions in life, business and relationships as they grow up and mature.


When your kids set up their lemonade stand, they will have well known neighbours and friends coming over to sample their tasty drinks and treats. This is a perfect time for kids to learn the art of selling. Exchanging money with people you know doesn’t have to be awkward, it can actually be quite fulfilling. These neighborhood friends are getting a chance to support the lemonade business venture and your kids are getting to treat them to some delicious lemonade. It’s a win win for everyone.


Kids also get the chance to trade goods for money not only with other kids, but adults too. In the eyes of a child, every adult is an authority figure…but they are not immune to the rules of a fair business transaction. It’s magical to see kids faces as they hand off a glass of lemonade and have an adult respectfully hand them their well deserved money in return. Kids will quickly come to know that even adults must pay their way to receive goods and services in this world. No one is exempt from paying their dues.


Working out your profits


Important life lessons…If you solve problems, help people (in this case, by quenching their thirst), or simply provide some great entertainment and fun for others, there could be huge monetary rewards waiting for you. But every business must make profits to succeed (and lemonade stands can be quite profitable). The cost of operating a lemonade stand can quickly be figured out by crunching a few numbers with your little salesperson.


If a bag of lemons cost $5 and nets 50 glasses of lemonade at 50 cents a pop, then we just might have a $25 dollar haul on $5 of expenses, leaving them with $20 in profit! Not bad for selling a few lemonades to some thirsty motorists huh?


Nothing is wrong with learning how to making profit on their business, because with that profit the lemonade stand will live on! Just by making that hard earned money, more bags of lemons can be purchased and guess what, more sales! The business can thrive!


The idea of the lemonade stand isn’t simply about making money, it can also be about the longevity of a business and what it needs to continue to survive. Without sales and profits, no business can go on. And once those extra dollars come in, a healthy reward for hard work is always a good thing.


Don’t forget to put some money into savings and some into investments for your bigger and badder lemonade and treat stand next year! Maybe some cash registers and picnic tables for the customers, who knows! The sky is the limit!




Chores versus a business built on lemonade


Kids love to be able to buy things at the store with money they’ve earned. It gives them a sense of independence. I tend to favour money earned from a lemonade stand over money earned from completing assigned chores around the house. I have nothing against doing chores for money, it’s something I did as well as a kid. But the life lessons aren’t as prevalent when the tasks are cleaning the basement or putting away the dishes. Of course they learn that there are essential house chores to be completed daily, but the sense of satisfaction is missing. The sweat equity isn’t there. And there is no creativity or human interaction when it comes to simply completing random jobs in exchange for money. It doesn’t work on communication skills or proper interaction with other kids and adults the way a lemonade stand does.


A lemonade stand is one of the first entrepreneurial ventures that a child will get to be a part of, and what a great one to get their feet wet in. The joy that kids have when they can be part of a positive business interaction with other kids and adults is truly incredible.


In the Hart household, there’s no doubt that we will have our kids out their making their own lemonade and selling it for a fun, positive learning experience. This great activity has so many everlasting life lessons packed into it, we just can’t pass it up.



Selling is a way of life, and without it, we can’t thrive as humans (for more on this, check out the book – To Sell is Human by Daniel Pinkman).


Selling is everywhere.


When we apply for our first job, we create a resume with our best selling points and reasons why we should be hired. When we are dating the person we want to marry, we sell the idea of a wonderful life with that person.


We sell all the time.


Even recommending a good book or movie to a friend is a form of selling. You are selling the idea that it’s worth their time invested to check out what you are suggesting.


You even sell your kids on the health benefits of eating their veggies at the dinner table.


Selling is everywhere, and it’s an essential tool for anyone that wants to progress to any level of success in their lives.


In “How to Be Like Walt” author Pat Williams marvels at the sales ability of the late great Walt Disney. He goes on to explain that Walt could sell anything to anyone.


In his book, he lists the 5 traits of a great salesperson as follows:






5.and Persistence


It’s clear that Walt Disney had all of these traits. And I believe that these traits can be instilled in anyone from a very young age, and it all starts with a simple, yet important, lemonade stand.


Teaching kids honest business practices while running their lemonade stand empire will pay them huge dividends in the end. A lemonade stand is the perfect place to harness the 5 traits listed above. Any kid can learn how to run a lemonade stand…watch them as they build a fruitful business venture right before your eyes.


So let’s bring back the lemonade stand. On the next hot day, get your kids in on the fun of building their very own lemonade stand business. Take them out to buy the lemons (and show them the receipt of the costs involved) and let them take part in making their own lemonade recipe and even some treats to upsell on their first business venture. It’ll be a great activity for the whole family and the skills and knowledge they will gain will set the foundation for their entire lives.


Make it a learning experience, and most importantly, make it fun!


Happy selling!