Kids are natural entrepreneurs. They have big ideas and the ability to think outside the box when it comes to taking that big idea to market. Kids are also creative and rarely stop themselves from doing something because it seems too outrageous. All they need to turn their big ideas into cash is a little help and support from us. This is exactly what I was thinking when I was driving through Evanston last summer. It was 90 degrees in the shade and there, on the corner, were two boys dressed in full Sunday attire — suit, tie and good shoes selling lemonade. I had to pull over. As I walked up to Tate Wuerta and Kyle Lucki, I noticed their sign: “Ice Cold Lemonade. Best Dressed!” I asked Kyle what the suit and tie was all about. He said he and Kyle thought that if they dressed up to sell lemonade they would look more responsible and grown up and people would be more likely to give them money.
The boys used to be in the lawn mowing business, Tate said, but nowadays everybody has a lawn service. They just could not compete with those big businesses. So, instead, the boys decided to go back to basics and open up a lemonade stand with a few twists.
Both Tate and Kyle said dressing up to sell the lemonade just seemed like a good way to get people’s attention. They also offered customers the opportunity to “Buy 3 and get one for free.” They picked a high traffic corner and recruited their friend Kyle Howard to hold their second sign and wave people over to the stand just in case they missed the boys in suits.
Tate’s mom, Laura Bailey, was sitting about 20 feet away reading a magazine and keeping a close eye on all three boys. I asked her what she thought about the boys business. “The boys love making money. I love the lessons they learn setting the business up as well as what they learn from the people who buy lemonade from them. People are so impressed with the boys’ approach.”
Lessons learned from customers? I wanted to know more about that so I went back and talked to the boys some more. Like any good small business owner, the boys were multi-taskers. They could field my questions and continue to sell lemonade.
“Most customers tell us that they like that we are dressed up that it made them see us and come on over to see what we were doing,” Tate said.
“About half of our customers tell us to keep the change and some even give us money for free saying they want to make a donation to our business cause,” Kyle added.
OK. Big idea. Excellent and creative execution as they take that big idea to market. Good marketing and nice teamwork. Clearly these boys are the very definition of entrepreneurs. But were they successful? Did they really make more money?
“Oh yes, we made more money today than ever before,” Tate said.
How much more? In two hours they made $27 more than they had made on past lemonade stand sales. In four hours, they cleared a cool $200.
I wonder what’s in store for this summer, so I called mom Laura Bailey and asked.
“I loved that lemonade stand last summer,” she says. “I did not have to give Tate any spending money for a good long time after that business success.”
Will they be doing anything new and big this summer?
“Well, the boys have talked about another Best Dressed lemonade stand but I think they may have one more expense they are not counting on,” she says. “They both need new suits!”
Oh well, that is the life of the small business owner and entrepreneur — you have to allow for the expense of growth.
If your child has an entrepreneurial spirit, the summer is the time to nurture it. First, help her figure out what she really likes to do (besides making money, that is). Maybe she loves dogs, in which case a dog walking business might be her forte. Help her think of ways to make it unique — she always walks dogs to the dog park for a run, or walks are charged by the block — and then help her create the marketing flyer to advertise her business.
You might be surprised at how diligent your child will be when shes earning her own money. And, like Laura Bailey, you may find her success means you won’t have to be your child’s ATM for a change.