Kids’ Lemonade Stand Summer Project
How Our Kids Learned Valuable Lessons from a Lemonade Stand
When I accepted a full time, work at home job I knew it would be a wonderful change to my home life. I was now able walk the kids to the bus each morning, and pick them up each day. I found myself hearing all about my kids’ day over snack-time, and was able to seamlessly “leave” work and be home without rush hour traffic. What I didn’t anticipate was a summer home with my kids.
There were ups and down this summer. I am so happy we had more ups than downs though. One of my biggest goals this summer was to get the kids involved in something besides TV, tablets, and video games. I really wanted the kids to learn, to grow, and to develop. My hope was they would learn something new about themselves, grow in their mind, body and spirit, and develop a passion for something… anything.
Out of all the planning, the one project that taught them the most was born from a passing comment. We were visiting the dog park with our two dogs and foster puppy when someone mentioned they had nothing to drink. The pet owner was upset they had to cut their trip early because they didn’t bring water with them. It was a hot day and he made the comment, “why don’t you have a lemonade stand here?”
As soon as the comment left his mouth, the light bulb turned on. Why DON’T we have a lemonade stand at the dog park? It’s summer, it hot, and there are usually 20+ people at the dog park at one time. I asked the kids if they were interested in building a stand, and their summer project was born.
I wanted to balance a learning experience as well as a fun time that lasted through the project. I didn’t want them to burn out half way and get bored. In order to keep this balance, I made sure we hit the ground running and set a date in the near future. From the time the idea was born until the actual event day was only 3 weeks. It was a crunch, but we did get it all in, and the kids were excited the whole time.
Building a Business:
The lemonade stand planning started as soon as we got home from the park. I started by challenging the kids to build a business plan. I wanted them to think about what the business was, who the customer would be, and why they were doing it. It’s one thing to have an idea, it takes understanding who, what, when, and where to turn that idea into a business.
Business Plan: A lemonade stand that brings refreshments to not only people, but to man’s best friend too. We’ll serve fresh lemonade, homemade human cookies and homemade dog cookies. A portion of our proceeds and donations will go to A.D.O.P.T Pet Rescue where we adopted our Beagle, Jack.
After the business plan and concept was built, it was time to name the business. The kids needed to add their dog friendly concept into the name to make it relevant to the plan. They came up with, The “Dog-Gone-It” Lemonade Stand. It’s a cute name, adds in the dog friendly vibe, and it’s catchy.
I also wanted to teach the kids some “Golden Rules” about business and how to treat your customers. I asked the kids to come up with 10 customer service guidelines for their business. My hope would be the kids could use these guidelines in everyday life, not just in the business setting. We have good kids who are very respectful. I wanted them to understand being respectful to teachers and friends is different than a business setting with paying customers.
One curveball that was thrown our way was that the city has protected the dog park and they do not allow vendors to sell there. I know, most of you are rolling your eyes saying, “It’s a kids’ lemonade stand…” Believe me, I did the same thing. However, this is part of the learning experience. Sometimes you get told no, and you need to work through it.
I was able to get a phone number for the director of Parks and Recreation and discuss the summer project and our goals. I let the director know the time and effort the kids have put into the business plan, and asked for her to reconsider. Luckily, she was willing to look over the business plans and the kids’ ideas. After a couple days of waiting, we received an email that she approved their lemonade stand at the park! She only approved them for one day, and a 4-hour block of time. However, she approved them and complimented their hard work.
Putting Plans in Motion:
After our approval, it was time to put our plans in place. We’ve never made homemade dog cookies before, our dogs like Milk-Bones perfectly fine LOL. However, the kids were very adamant they wanted homemade treats. So, I asked them to find a couple recipes, and we narrowed it down to two types of dog cookies. Also, they planned to make chocolate chip cookies and brownies for the human goodies.
Since we only go to the park once or twice a week, we weren’t sure of the crowd we would be serving. So, we made a plan to scope out the park at different times, and to get an idea of how many people and dogs we would need to plan for. We determined we might see up to 100 people in a 4-hour time frame.
Lastly, we needed to take our recipes and our number of potential customers, and determine our costs and margins. The kids went through the grocery store with the list of ingredients to find out how much money they would need. They then took that amount and divided that by the number of servings, this gave them their potential profit.
Now, this was my favorite! I went to college for advertising, and have been working in a marketing job for roughly 10 years. I helped the kids come up with an age-appropriate marketing plan that they could execute themselves. We made flyers, which were handed out to neighbors and dog owners at the park. We made a Facebook event and asked friends and family to share on their pages, and we made sure to tag the city. This exposed us to people we knew, dog park visitors, as well as people in and around the city.
We asked customers how they heard about us and most stated Facebook, either the event or their friends who were talking about it.
Now that the plans were in place, the approval came through, and the kids marketed the business, it was time for the lemonade stand! To continue the learning experiences, the kids helped make all the dog treats and cookies. They didn’t load cookies into the oven, but they did help mix, roll/cut, and package all 300 dog cookies and 150 human cookies.
The kids set up the stand, and ran the stand all day. It was a little slow at first, but with the help of social media, friends started showing up in no time.
I am happy to say the kids were still smiling after a long day. They were able to make $100 from the stand (after paying off the start up costs), and raised $20 in donations for A.D.O.P.T Pet Rescue. As promised they matched the donations with their own profit, and donated $40 total.
I am so proud of Lane, Audrey, and Asher. They started with a plan and saw it through. They were able to learn so much from this experience. When I asked each child what they learned I heard things like; how to make cookies, business is tough, how to count money, and most importantly that people loved their lemonade!