How To Help Your Kid Make Bank On Their Lemonade Stand, According To Experts

After going broke on diapers, daycare, and the snacks my kids can’t stop eating (until I buy a lifetime supply, and then suddenly, they do), I literally CANNOT wait for my kids to helm a lemonade stand. Whether they simply recover some of what’s owed to their poor mom or start saving to put their little tushes through college, I’m not about to let their profit margins see the red. But because I went to school for journalism, not business, I’m not much help in the latter department.

It’s why, ahead of lemonade stand season (aka Q3, as I believe corporate America would say?), I reached out to a bunch of IRL business school instructors for some tips on approaching this DIY project ~professionally~, teaching my kids a thing or two, and ultimately, making a buck. *Mom’s eyes turn to dollar signs*

14 Top Lemonade Stand Tips from Business School Instructors

1. Identify the goal.

What are you out here to accomplish besides idling away an afternoon sans screentime? Ask your kid whether they’re saving up for something special or want to rake in cash for a cause. Nothing motivates a kid to make money like setting their sights on something they really, really want to buy with that money, says Ed Brzychcy, visiting assistant professor of practice at Babson College in Wellesley, MA, where he teaches organizational behavior, strategy, and entrepreneurship.

Just make sure it’s something worth earning from the child’s perspective, Brzychcy says. (So, maybe give up your dream of padding their college funds.) “Be sure to share the [goal] with everyone who stops by,” he suggests — it’s all part of the storytelling that can help them market the crap out of an otherwise tired lemonade mix.

2. Capitalize on a good cause.

Say you’re raising the kind of kid who wants to buy new books for the library or toys for a local dog shelter. *Applause* Communicate that to potential customers, says Patti Mandel, a marketing lecturer at Ramapo College. Even saying that “part” of the proceeds go to XYZ can help attract people willing to fork over funds without even taking a glass, she wagers.

What’s more, a good cause can warrant higher pricing since people are more likely to pay more when a seller has stellar intentions.

3. Identify a unique value proposition.

For something as common as lemonade, Brzychcy says that it’s extra important for kids to communicate what sets their lemonade apart. Maybe it’s made from organic hand-squeezed lemons that are locally grown? Maybe it’s pink!

To get the creative juices flowing, ask your kid, “What can you do that would be different or interesting for your intended customers?” If y’all hit a wall, an adjective such as “ice cold” or “refreshing” can do the trick and make signage shine, Mandel says.

4. Let your kids make the decisions.

Profit margins will be slim, to say the least, if your kid kicks things off with pricy ingredients, professionally printed signage, and a spiffy umbrella to catch attention. “Let them decide what is worth spending and how much to charge,” Brzychcy suggests. (Then pray they’ll quickly come to their senses when their $20 Dixie cups don’t move.)

From calculating the cost of production per cup to how much profit is made after all expenses are considered, “this is a great fishbowl for them to learn about value, exchange, and business,” Bryzychcy says. Weighing the potential risks and rewards of each decision lets kids get a taste of the control they’ll need to hone to lead the next Fortune 500… in due time.

5. Be scrappy.

Rather than working to recover a sizable investment in glassware, a table, and signage, teach your kids to be resourceful. Say the only reusable cups you’ve got at home are from their 2019 Paw Patrol party? Get out there and brand their stand accordingly — it’s Ruff Ruff Rescue-Aid! Just look out for copyright infringements. No “Blippi’s Lemonade,” Mandel warns, since Blippi didn’t actually make the lemonade, amirite?

6. Latch onto a legit location.

Because lemonade tendered by cutie pie kiddos tends to be an easy sell, traffic is truly half the battle, says Florence Lowe, adjunct professor at the University of Texas in Dallas’ Jindal School of Management, founder of SchoolAnalytix, a data platform service for K-12 schools, and parent to a now 15-year-old son Max, who ran a “very successful” lemonade stand at age 6. She recommends setting up in front of a busy restaurant (with their permission) or beside a school’s bustling sports field to capitalize on natural foot traffic.

7. Get the word out.

While your kids might not have their own public social media accounts to inform the world about their new venture, you can help them raise awareness by posting on your feed, neighborhood Facebook groups, and group chats. Communicate when and where you’ll be open for business (and make sure the schedule is listed prominently on their stand, too, so customers can keep tabs).

8. Access the costs and benefits of partnerships.

Sometimes teaming up just makes things more fun — even if it means sharing the profits, Mandel says. Partnering up could also lead to extra exposure if the partner’s parents market the stand to their networks.

9. Stand out with signage.

Whether you use a colorful tablecloth or a bright sign with large, bold lettering, you want people to notice your stand, says Mandel. “Think of it like a billboard on a highway,” she says. “You need to get the message out really quickly.”

10. Embrace cross-selling opportunities.

Teaming up with another seller, like a friend who makes homemade jewelry, can enhance sales for both parties, says Lowe. Might jewelry shoppers find they absolutely need to quench their thirst while browsing? Sure. Might lemonade aficionados find they need some arm candy to sweeten the deal? Could happen — in which case, everyone wins.

11. Turn customers into advocates.

Free refills to customers who post a photo of the stand using a location tag? Yes, I did think of that myself! To get your kids in on the idea action, ask them, “How can you get customers to showcase your stand?”

12. Give sales gimmicks a spin.

“Buy three, get one free,” anyone? Bring your own cup for 50% off? Mandel suggests a fun angle to drive sales, so let your kids brainstorm ideas themselves, then wait and watch what works.

13. Take Venmo!

As satisfying as it is to hear coins go clunk in an analog piggy bank, people just don’t carry cash these days. Mandel recommends accepting digital forms of payment via a parent’s account. Then, you can hand over the money to your kid at the end of the day.

14. Let them count—and keep—the cash.

There’s only one way to grasp the value of a venture and decisions made, good or bad: with pursestrings in hand. Are they $10 short of their goal and can’t quite afford that skateboard? Better luck next week, same time, same place, same beverage — or scrap it all and try again. (Bake sale, anyone?!)

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