Every Grampa worth his salt has purchased more than a few cups of homemade lemonade from a Gramkid's roadside stand.
It's a mercy mission, right? Almost a pity purchase. The lemonade is either too weak or too sweet. The homemade sign is cute, after a fashion-- but if you're worth your salt as a good grampa--you want a good end, so you go out door to door advertising and cajoling the neighbors to come and participate in the favorite kid money maker of hot summer days.
Always in the back of your head is the hope that ones so young will learn good business lessons.
Most of 'em try it once. They learn HOT and HARD WORK and STICKY. They learn begign' for more money to buy lots more more drink powder, sugar and cups. They learn how hard it is to get passing traffic to stop and give them good money for their questionable product. They learn discouragement, and so often, they give up, go home and never do it again. You're lucky if they wash up after and get all the gear back where it's supposed to be in the kitchen.
Tim, my walkin' buddy and I had done our 8,000+ steps this morning and were in the home stretch when we came upon a hard workin' tween--a little blondie struggling with a folding table, a bulging backpack and a great big empty pitcher holding a couple stacks of paper cups. Tim thought maybe junior masseuse--but the pitcher told the story. It was about 1:30 PM and we were witnessin' the end of what likely was a failed lemonade stand. The other girl down the street must have been in charge of the hand lettered sign--cuz our little friend was packin' everything else.
She overheard me correct Tim and properly identify the popular tween enterprise of the summer, and she nodded between gasps for breath, toting her heavy load.
Our mutual boss, Vernon Thompson gave us a monograph about a young lemonade stander who parlayed a varied product line and incredible data base with outstanding customer service into considerable stock holdings in IBM.and a little chain of stands--each one cuter than the last. Only the best of Big Business ever learns the lessons of the humble little successful lemonade stand--and gets employees to produce the results the best of young stand owners learn by trial and error.
I honestly don't know about my diligent little girl buddy on the street this morning, but she likely found out that big bucks only come after a lot more work than she or her little partner were willing to do at the age of 9.
So I gave her an idea. Her perspiring young brain likely didn't pick up on it, but here's what I told her:
The Sucker Patrol of the Princess Pagoda (about her same age) are profiting year 'round from a Bread Subscription business and splitting the take between their college funds and some modest spending money.
Their talented baker mom and canny MBA Bond Trader Dad helped get them started...and it's been just clickin' along like a little income producing machine for almost a year now. Compound interest on this little moneymaker will teach them some pretty good business skills and pay for their college!
I even divulged the simple business plan as we ambled by: Help your mom bake 20 loaves of aromatic white ,full grain bread-- you know the kind you can't get at the store or any nearby bakery. Buy the loaves for fifty cents each and sell them on a weekly subscription for $2.00 each. That's a $40 gross and a raw net of $30 minus the cost of bags and delivery gas etc.
The internal business muscles that the Bread Subscription enterprise develops runs rings around the once-or- twice-a-summer bound-to-be-discouraging lemonade business.
To illustrate the real world lessons they're learning: James, 7, delivered two fresh baked aromatic tasty loaves to my Samoan friend Ta's home. The second loaf was a mistake. Ta had only bought one. Ta and his Jayne were hosting a bunch of , well, freeloading Samoan friends that were there in the middle of the day when James delivered the bread. They fell on the first loaf--and there was nothing but crumbs and an empty paper bag when Ta got home from work. About that same time, the 7 year old bread subscription entrepeneur dropped by with his Dad in the van to correct his earlier mistake.
Ta told me, "All at once I saw the empty bread bag, the happy well fed smiles on my friends faces..and James gently demanding the other loaf. I offered to buy it from him, but the young businessman was surpizingly tough."
"Nope, " the seven year old told me flatly. "It's already been sold on subscription to someone else. Sorry, Ta, but I gotta have it back! I cried a little inside knowing that this Wednesday I would NOT be enjoying fresh baked subscription bread that has been delivered to my door for months and months"
You can't buy that kind of integrity training in one so young. It only comes in the hands-on doing, of kind, far thinking clever parents teaching correct principles and letting their budding young businessmen and women govern themselves.
My little exhausted lemonade broker cocked one eyebrow...and thanked me (she thought) and kept lugging her lemonade stand gear up the hill. Sweat dripped off her forehead. She blew away a stray blond strand of hair that had dripped into her face. As we passed, I imagined her she wondering if there was a better way to earn bigger bucks with bread instead! JWC