Small Business Minds Start at a Small Age

My first experience as an entrepreneur start with the typical lemonade stand that is a staple of American childhood. I was 7 or 8 years old at the time, setting up shop on a prime street corner in my neighborhood with a girl named Annette who lived 2 doors away. Our houses were located on a trafficked street that also led to the neighborhood pool. In the summertime, kids and parents regularly walked to the pool, passing right by the very corner we choose to host our business.

lemonade-standSummers in Texas are friggin’ hot!! Hydration and air conditioning are essential to maintain comfort and avoid passing out. One day, since we had nothing better to do, Annette and I decided to mix up batches of Crystal Light Lemonade to quench the thirst of neighbors walking or driving by. You know the routine. Give a dime or quarter, get a Dixie cup of sweet, tart, icy refreshment. Emphasis on the ice that way less actual product is being sold per drink.

We didn’t have any particularly fancy setup to our lemonade stand, not like kids these days do. Our storefront consisted of a yellow umbrella, two chairs, a small portable table, and an Igloo cooler to store our liquid gold. If we emptied a pitcher or needed more ice, Annette’s house kitchen was right there.

After years of behavioral training from my parents in manners and how to interact with other people as a young person, I knew we’d attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. My sales strategy was to engage the best hospitality skills I could muster. Every time someone walked or drove by our lemonade stand, a brown-haired girl with a ponytail and a smile only the tooth fairy could love would greet the potential customer with enthusiasm. “Hi! Would you like some ice-cold lemonade? It’s only a dime!”

Creep-o’s aside, how can anyone resist 2 cute kids on a street corner? I’d say our closure ratio was pretty darn high given the pervasive heat wave rendering us all a sweaty lot. As far as business goals go, my business partner Annette and I had only one objective for the afternoon: our friendly toils in the sun would be rewarded with ice cream. All we had to do was sell enough so that our pile of loose coins could be exchanged for frosty treats from the ice cream truck.

Needless to say, our mission was accomplished! The licks and slurps of our sweet ice creams were worth every moment of business planning, product development, storefront setup, and sweat-inducing sales efforts. “All in a hard day’s work”, as they say.

Our success at the lemonade stand was just the first of many inspirations I had in the upcoming decades to start my own business. These dreams I finally realized in April 2012 with the cooking up of Honest to Goodness Personal Chef Services based in Seattle, WA, and now with the advent of my work in the vacation chef arena.

Entrepreneurship is a tool for purposeful living. I would be remiss for not summing up this post in the spirit of the age-old lesson, “when life gives you lemons” — SQUEEZE THE HECK OUT OF THEM!! Business is hard, like unripened citrus, yet holds the promises of sweetness and Midas’ touch of gold in your life. I’m glad my small business dreams started at a small age to give me hope for the future. I do love me some ice cream.

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