My favorite part of this summer has been teaching my 5 and 2-year-old nieces how to start their own lemonade stand and run a business of their own. The youngest is too young to really understand yet, but the cute factor of having her there far outweighs a few spilled glasses of lemonade. Both girls learned how to create signs, advertise, make lemonade, interact with customers, and handle money (kinda… we are still working on teaching them counting and currency).
Let’s discuss what you need to get started, the keys to success, and how to write a business plan that will help you create a business you can be proud of!
What You Need to Get Started
There are many things to think about when starting your first business or starting a lemonade stand for the first time! If you are crafty and creative, you can start a business with $100 or less and start earning money as soon as you’ve built your stand, made your treats, made up some advertising flyers or social media posts in local groups, and secured the proper permits from your local government.
- Location, location, location. Choose a location with a lot of traffic, especially pedestrian foot traffic and where adults are likely to carry cash or loose change. My nieces live up the mountain on a highway with no foot traffic, so we set up shop at my house in the city with a lot of foot traffic. Ideal locations would be near a public pool, supermarket, or a local sporting event. Consider whether you need a special license or permit before setting up your stand.
- Marketing and advertising your business. Let your imagination run wild and spread the word about when you will be selling lemonade, and any other fun treats you’ll be adding to your menu! We made fun flyers and hung them on the community boards at local churches and businesses in the area near my house; then we knocked on doors to introduce ourselves and our business to my neighbors.
- Offer more than lemonade. We chose to create a menu that included sweet treats like cookies, cupcakes, and lollipops, which the girls loved to help me make in the kitchen. I wrote the menu and prices on a dry-erase board so we could change the prices as needed because grocery costs have changed so frequently this summer.
- Strategize the right price. If you develop a great recipe for lemonade and treats that are high quality and taste great, don’t be afraid to charge higher prices than competitors. Part of the strategy of determining your prices should be how much your supplies cost (including your licenses and permits). We decided to price our lemonade at $1 per cup, but the sweet treats are priced higher.
- Give some of your earnings to worthy charities. Learning about giving to charity as a kid is the greatest gift my own parents taught me. It taught me compassion, and we are teaching that gift to my nieces now.
- Learning customer service. This part has been the most fun for us but has also caused a few dropped cookies and cupcakes. The girls are learning to be friendly and polite to customers while taking orders, handling money, handing out treats and drinks, and returning change. For now, the oldest takes orders and returns change, while the youngest gives out treats with a huge smile.
- Set goals and communicate with your team. Before starting your lemonade stand, you should sit down with your team and set goals. How many cups of lemonade do you want to sell? How often will you sell from your stand? What charity do you want to support, and how will you communicate that to your customers? What do you plan to do with the money that you earn?
- Find ways to have fun! We have had so much fun finding new recipes to try, meeting new friends, making advertising materials, giving gifts to charity, and spending our earnings on some fun toys. One of the blessings of starting a business is having fun in the process. It’s a level of freedom that business owners very much enjoy.
How to Make It Your Own
Many kids start lemonade stands in the summer as a way of earning some money, so finding creative ways to add your own flair will help you stand out from the crowd. Add curb appeal to your stand by using fun colors, signs, streamers, and nice dispensers for your drinks and treats. We used green, pink, and white for our stand and built it using pallets and leftover stains in the woodshed from home improvement projects we did last summer.
The girls and I created branded flyers that we passed out to neighbors and hung on community billboards. I added some tasteful photos to local yard sale groups and let the community know that we would be using part of our sales to buy backpacks and school supplies for kids living in the local domestic violence and homeless shelters.
Writing Out Your Business Plan
Every business should be properly planned out, regardless of the type of business or industry in which you work. Many kids fail to plan out their lemonade stand and are not as successful as they could have been or make many mistakes that could have been avoided.
Down Redbud Drive has a printable business plan that will allow you to brainstorm and come up with ideas while learning how to plan out your business. If you don’t like the first business plan, that’s ok! This is a printable version that can be downloaded and printed as many times as you’d like.
Let’s discuss the steps of a business plan:
- Business name and menu: Give your venture a proper name by brainstorming 5-10 possible names that are fun and memorable. We ended up naming our stand “Giggle Girls” because my nieces are the most giggly sweethearts in the entire world. For our menu, we chose items that we could make easily and affordably based on their ages. The cupcakes were challenging for the 2-year-old to pass out effectively, so we made some that were larger than usual so she could hold them easier.
- Recipes and cost breakdown. Why write out your recipes? Consistency of your brand. If you are setting up your lemonade stand for more than one day, your repeat customers will want to taste the same quality of product every time or you risk losing those repeat customers. Writing out your recipes will help you buy your supplies and track how much you’ve used so you can figure out your overall profit after subtracting expenses. To find out the cost breakdown, write down how much supplies like cups, straws, plates, and napkins cost.
- Set your prices for goods. How many glasses of lemonade can you get from each pitcher and what is the cost of making each pitcher? How many cookies or cupcakes are you able to make with each batch and how much does it cost to make them? This may require a trip to the grocery store to figure out how much your goods will cost, but it’s worth the trip!
- Profit and goals. After you research how much it’ll cost to make your treats and what you can price them at to sell, you will be able to figure out how much is “left over” and this is called profit. Your profit will be money you’ve earned and can now spend, save, or give to charity. Use the profit estimate to set goals for how much money you want to earn and what that money will be spent on. My nieces wanted to be able to take a trip to the beach out in Cape Cod because we live in New York, which is a pretty landlocked state, but love visiting the beach. We determined that it would cost about $500 to take a weekend trip to the beach, so that was our goal.
Now You’re Ready to Go
You have chosen the perfect location, gotten permits, written your business plan, created advertising materials, gathered supplies, made your stand your own, determined how much to charge, and set realistic goals for how much money you want to make from your business. It’s up to you now to get everything set up and start making sales.
Starting your own business will teach you so much about saving, spending, giving to charity, customer service, setting goals, consistency, creating something that is your own, how to make money, making good decisions, and so many other skills that will help you in every area of your life. Once you’ve set up your stand and started making sales, keep track of your lessons learned so you can refer back to them and improve your business.
Want more ideas to earn money? Check out our guide on business ideas for kids too!