Today’s kids start lemonade stands with a business plan

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PBS NewsHour
By — Kavitha Cardoza
July 31, 2018

It's the American summertime symbol of entrepreneurship: the lemonade stand. It might evoke nostalgic visions, but today nonprofits are using these rites of childhood to nurture budding business skills and entrepreneurial thinking. Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza of Education Week reports.

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John Yang:

Lemonade stands evoke nostalgic visions of kids handing out paper cups in front of their houses on a hot summer day.

But now nonprofits like Lemonade Day are using these rites of childhood to try to nurture budding business skills and entrepreneurial thinking.

Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza from our partner Education Week visited Indianapolis, Indiana, a city that enthusiastically embraces national Lemonade Day.

It’s part of our weekly education segment, Making the Grade.

Flannery Partain:

Lemonade, come get it. Lemonade, ice cool.

Kavitha Cardoza:

A big smile, a loud voice and lots of colorful posters, that’s how Flannery Partain plans to attract customers. She’s just 8, but knows exactly what she wants.

Flannery Partain:

I want to be the boss.

Kavitha Cardoza:

And what better way to kick-start that ambition than though that American summertime symbol of entrepreneurship, the lemonade stand?

Actor:

Lemonade, ice cold lemonade.

Kavitha Cardoza:

Flannery’s just learned her first business concept, the importance of a catchy name.

Flannery Partain:

At first, I was like Sour Lemon, but then my dad’s like, no, no, no, no, no, no. And so he was like, how about Sweet Lemon? I’m like, yes, that could work, too.

Child:

I was thinking we could name it Lemon Squeeze?

Scott Jones:

Lemon — that is the best name I have ever heard. Lemon Squeeze, you guys like that name?

This is so important because our education system doesn’t teach that kind of thing.

Kavitha Cardoza:

That’s multimillionaire entrepreneur Scott Jones. He developed the technology we commonly use in voice-mail.

Scott Jones:

When I was a kid, I not only did the lemonade stand, because, once I had the bug of entrepreneurship, I had haunted houses, I had putt-putt courses, I would make Christmas decorations. Once you start, it keeps on going.

Kavitha Cardoza:

Jones wants kids to get bitten by that same bug, so he founded Lemonade Day in Indianapolis nine years ago. And he’s backed that effort with a million dollars that helps pay for start-up money, city permits and free workshops.

Scott Jones:

I have a tattoo. “Do.” Right? That’s what life is for me — and I have taught that to my children, the willingness to get up off the couch or away from the video game and actually do that idea.

Kavitha Cardoza:

This is selling lemonade version 2.0, because even before they have made a single sale, kids have had to go through a curriculum with an adult where they learn to make a business plan, calculate costs and learn key concepts.

Flannery Partain:

Profit.

Child:

Teamwork.

Child:

Economy.

C.J. Harris:

And if they tell you no, just say, have a nice day.

Jemma Walker:

For $3, blue raspberry lemonade.

Kavitha Cardoza:

Eleven-year-old Jemma Walker is the queen of elaborate lemonade stands. She always has a red carpet.

Jemma Walker:

We want everyone to feel like they’re VIPs when they come to the lemonade stand.

Hello. Would you like to support the lemonade stand? Well, we accept credit cards. Yes, we do.

Kavitha Cardoza:

Her brother Miller is part of her marketing plan.

Miller Walker:

My role is to help, to help get customers to come and buy some lemonade at the lemonade stand, and also to look adorable.

Kavitha Cardoza:

Her parents, Sherrean and Luke Walker, say the lemonade stand has taught Jemma life skills.

Sherrean Walker:

It’s a real-world applicability of all those skills.

Luke Walker:

They are seeing all of those connections between what you like to do and what can make you successful.

Kavitha Cardoza:

So far, 75,000 kids have participated in this free program in Indianapolis alone.

Jemma Walker:

Two, two, four, $430.08. Yes!

My best bit of business advice would probably be, have fun with it.

Kavitha Cardoza:

It’s fun, but it’s also a serious effort to develop a pipeline of future entrepreneurs.

Schools nurture kids who are academically gifted, who are athletically gifted, who are artistically gifted. You think we should encourage kids who are entrepreneurially gifted?

Scott Jones:

Absolutely.

And Lemonade Day is the perfect way to introduce these concepts of managing money, because how often in school are they being asked to learn and exercise selling skills, marketing skills, social skills, psychological skills, right? It just isn’t done that much. You learn it all, right, when you do a lemonade stand.

Kavitha Cardoza:

It also fosters a sense of community.

Ten-year-old C.J. Was the last year’s lemonade entrepreneur of Indianapolis. What’s this?

C.J. Harris:

It’s the MVPs for asthma, so it’s to help asthma, because I do have asthma.

Kavitha Cardoza:

All the kids follow the program’s spend, save and share motto.

C.J. Harris:

So, you have standard lemonade. You have blueberry lemonade.

Kavitha Cardoza:

For C.J., the customer is king. Well, most of the time.

Man:

Water is better for you than any of this stuff.

C.J. Harris:

No, lemonade is better.

Man:

No.

C.J. Harris:

No, I do not agree with you.

Kavitha Cardoza:

A Lemonade Day study found children who took part in this program were more likely to plan to start their own business and are more confident they can find lots of ways around any problem. They also believe they will invent something that will change the world.

Flannery has set her sights a little lower. She wants to buy art supplies and glitter glue. And with a steady stream of customers, including a drive-through, she’s well on her way.

For the “PBS NewsHour” and Education Week, I’m Kavitha Cardoza in Indianapolis, Indiana.

John Yang:

If you want to help your child start a lemonade stand, a financial planner gives you advice on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

Click here to watch the full report video.

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