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Why Sell Lemonade?
These days, the very idea of a lemonade stand can seem somewhat dated. In a time when kids are writing and selling their own computer games, why go back to the same old thing that their parents might have done to raise money?
Running a lemonade stand can be a good way to introduce kids to business, for a number of reasons. It's fairly simple – even very young children can do their part. It's inexpensive – pretty much all you need is a card table, some paper cups, and $5 worth of ingredients. Finally, it gives kids the opportunity to spend the day working and show a profit at the end of it, and to work to figure out how to increase that profit.
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Location, Location, Location
One of the largest factors in the success of any business, of course, is getting in front of customers, and a lemonade stand is no exception. When you're coming up with lemonade stand ideas, one of the first things to consider is where your traffic will be coming from. Right in front of your house might be the most convenient place, but will you get enough foot traffic to make it worthwhile? Most of the time, maybe not, but if you set up your stand on the same day that your neighbors are having garage sales or open houses, that's going to increase the number of people walking through by quite a bit!
There's a reason that you always see girl scout cookies being sold at supermarkets – a lot of people walk through all the time. Unfortunately, you can't just decide to take your stand down to the local grocer store and start selling; you have to have permission. Brainstorm a bit: is there a place where you have (or can get) permission to sell your lemonade that will see a lot of people walking by?
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Show Me the Money
Once you've settled on a location for your lemonade stand, it's time to think about money. How much will you charge? How much lemonade do you get for the price; that is, how big will your cups be? You want to charge enough to both cover your costs and make enough profit to make the whole endeavor worth your time, but not so much that people will decide not to buy.
It's worth sitting down to work out a budget: given the amount of lemonade you're going to make, how much do you need to sell to cover your costs? Generally businesses sell items for at least twice as much as they pay, in order to cover all of the incidental costs involved with the sale.
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Lemonade and Wifi
Of course, there's nothing that says your stand has to sell just lemonade - be creative! There are a lot of lemonade stand ideas that can help bring people in. For example, you could bake and sell cookies as well; who doesn't love a warm chocolate chip cookie? The trick is to find items that work well together. Someone might stop by because the cookies smell good, for example, and then need some lemonade to wash the cookie down with.
On the other hand, if it's hot out (and it usually is if you're selling lemonade), you could offer ice cream bars as well. Just make sure they don't melt. If a number of your customers are kids, you could go through a package of popstickles very quickly..
If you (or your parents) have a cell phone with unlimited data, you could even set up a wifi hotspot and offer free Internet with a lemonade purchase. Someone who wants to check his email might decide he has time to sit down and have a drink after all..
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These days, everybody has a gimmick - it's how you get attention. Sometimes that gimmick is something simple, like low prices or excellent service. Sometimes it's a giant pink bear dancing in front of your business. Whatever it is, it needs to answer the question: why should people give you their business?
For a lemonade stand, this could be as simple as a big sign advertising lemonade, but it could also be more creative. You could use food coloring, for example, and offer "green" lemonade, or draw a graph showing how close you are to a fundraising goal (which could be simple, like "$10 in sales", or more complicated like "$92.75 for a new bike"). Again, the point is to get people interested in what you're doing, which makes them more likely to hand over their money.
Whatever you do, remember to keep track of your spending; you want to know exactly how much money you have going in and out so you know how much you made and whether you had a sufficient profit for the time investment to make it worth doing this again. Additionally, tracking your profit over multiple occasions allows you to see what works and what doesn't.
Above all, have fun!
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Source: author's own experience
Lemonade stand image by flickr user EvinDC, used under Creative Commons license