Okay, so it’s your child’s first attempt at their own small business. We know you’re teeming with delight, but it’s also a tricky situation to be in. Lemonade stands aren’t exactly great business ventures, considering most people only buy the lemonade to make the kid happy. Not only that, but we all remember that fiasco about a lemonade stand getting shut down years ago, even though it was just some little girl. That’s right—your kid’s hopes of that lemonade stand are dwindling, but as Dad of the Year, you can handle it. You’ll be doing all the behind-the-curtain work while teaching them how business, money, and responsibility works—it’s a big day, so do it right.
Step 1: Check With the Law
Avoid having your kids getting their hopes shot down. Contacting your local town hall or an authority’s office is the quick way to know if there are any regulations in your area regarding lemonade stands, and sometimes, there are. Last I checked, there’s something like 500 cities and towns that have restrictions on lemonade stands, ranging from light to heavy. You may need a license to operate, a license for selling food, and you’ll have to make sure your kitchen is top-notch if the health department rolls through, so they can see where you make it, and deem it food safe. Sounds excessive? It is. Handle all that crap so your kids can get on with their excitement.
Step 2: Teaching Them Business
You should take a week to set up the lemonade stand. Teach your kids about debt and loans, and have them choose whether they want to purchase a banner for their stand, or make one on their own. Teach them the difference between craftsmanship and cost, but also that making something on your own still costs money. Where’s the construction paper coming from? Where are the markers coming from?
You can also buy a lemonade stand base model, or, safely scour the internet for local listings on free pallets, buy some paint, bring out your tool bag, and show them how to make it on their own. Every business comes from the ground up—make it a learning experience.
Step 3: Recipes
Not every lemonade recipe is going to win the gold. Now, base this on your children’s age and their enthusiasm, but teach them that they need to get a good recipe, and not to follow the exact recipe on the package of mix, or the first thing they find online. Teach them about going the angle all on their own, and making something new.
Step 4: Cash Management
As a gift for opening day, buy them a cashbox and a calculator. When they need to give change or track spending, also supply them with a legal pad and a few pens. This is also a great time to implement charity, as not a lot of businesses do anymore. Tell customers that 5% of every donation goes to the local food pantry, or your charity of choice (but also check the legal ramifications in your area, you may need a permit for that, too).
At the end of the venture (they may do this all summer long, and I’d say go for it) get some learning material. Teach them what scaling a business is. If you take a look at our five books that help your success—some are designed for kids.