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'Lemonade Day' to Bring out Entrepreneurial Spirit in Kids

Local Entrepreneur Inspires Kids Through Lemonade Stands

April 01, 2011
Lemonade stands give people the "warm 'n fuzzies." I guess it's because people my age and older had lemonade stands when we were kids and you just don't see them anymore. The fact that it's my job to bring them back – with a 21st Century flair – well, it's pretty cool.

Last year, Local entrepreneur and inventor Scott Jones and I inspired more than 7,400 kids to set up their own businesses: a lemonade stand. We launched a new initiative in the Greater Indianapolis Area called Lemonade Day through which we teach kids how to run a business with a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day is a national initiative with more than 20 cities around the country participating.

Jones was asked by Lemonade Day founder and Houston entrepreneur Michael Holthouse to bring Lemonade Day to the Indianapolis area, and that he did. We set a Lemonade Day record for the most kids to sign up in a city's first year. In other words, we put Indianapolis on the map, baby!

Lemonade Day works like this: beginning in March, kids sign up at their local library and get a bright yellow Lemonade Day backpack. Inside are two workbooks: one for the child, called the Entrepreneur's Workbook, and one for the adult who will help the child prepare for Lemonade Day, the Caring Adult Guide. The workbooks contain lessons about how to start and run your own lemonade business. Lessons like "Find An Investor" instruct kids to seek out their seed money to get their business started (e.g. the $20 to $40 they will need for their lemonade and/or the materials for their stand). The child and caring adult then work through these workbook lessons at their own pace, on their own time.

Then (drum roll, please), on Lemonade Day, which will be held on Sunday, May 1, kids all over the Indianapolis area will set up their lemonade stands – or "open up shop" – and sell lemonade! The kids keep the money they earn and we encourage them to spend some, save some and share some. Last year, the average gross revenue per stand was $109! For kids who want to go the extra mile, we offer workshops and contests in March and April, such as our Kidz Biz Workshop and our Best Tasting Lemonade Contest.

The stories from 2010 were amazing. One 7-year-old boy, Ethan, worked really hard preparing for Lemonade Day and snagged a spot at our Best Tasting Lemonade Contest. His mom told us that when he saw his competition that day – and ultimately didn't win the contest – he was more determined than ever to 'step up his game.' He worked with his dad to build a 7ft rocket ship sign to advertise his stand, he asked his mom if he could get business cards to hand out to teachers and other kids at school and he added a blueberry-flavored lemonade to his menu.

On Lemonade Day, Ethan set up his stand outside the Pike Township Public Library. One woman who was going into the library stopped at his stand and Ethan told tell her all about Lemonade Day and his plans of putting his money earned towards a special book online and giving the rest to the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. He knew how much the book cost, including shipping charges. The woman asked if she could write a check to pay for her lemonade and wrote a check to cover the full cost of the book, including shipping. After the woman had gone into the library, Ethan and his parents noticed that the woman had written in the note field on the check 'I believe in you.'

Lemonade stands are back - 21st Century-style. They still inspire nostalgic memories of times gone-by but they are more than that. Lemonade stands are first businesses, an experience that can be transformative for kids. Kids like 10-year-old Scott Jones, who had a lemonade stand, and then another, and then years later, that same kid invented the voice mail system now used by billions of people around the world.

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Jami Marsh is the Director of Lemonade Day for Indianapolis.

Tags: Education, Local, Parenting

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