by Michael Bowen
Develop a seed capital financing program; test focus groups; establish quality control procedures and a staffing schedule." These are just four of the 38 hyperlinked "Helpful Tips" specifically on running a lemonade stand offered to 8-year-old entrepreneurs at TeachingKidsBusiness.com.
Restart with a reality check.
1. Cover your ears, gentlemen, for the summertime squealing of little girls is about to begin. "Can we do a lemonade stand, Daddy? Can we?" (Question to be repeated 53 times, shrilly.)
2. Produce signs. Be sure that lettering noticeably slants downward to the right. Letters must be scrunched together at right margin. Color elaborately. Add doodads.
3. Discover there are no means of erecting signs. Where are the wooden stakes? Much tossing-about of debris in garage during torrent of language not suitable for tender ones' ears. Wooden stakes found. Rubber mallets secured, utilized, on-target with exposed thumbs. More unseemly language.
4. Signs posted. Exploratory stroll to middle of avenue. Lettering not visible from more than 9 feet away and then only if you squint.
5. Repeat entire sign-creation and -posting process. Melted ice has created watery product. Replenish pitcher. Lemonade sure to sell now.
6. Watch cars go past doing 43 in a 25 mph zone.
7. Three hours later. Amber has forgotten her sunblock. We have sold four glasses of lemonade. One customer, after her initial sip, stopped smiling: Amber had either forgotten to add sugar or else substituted sunblock in its place. We have decided to reexamine the issue of quality control.
9. Back in the kitchen now. Squeeze lemons, pick out seeds, pour water, measure sugar, add ice.
10. Squeeze lemons, pick out seeds, pour water, measure sugar, add ice.
11. Squeeze lemons... catch glimpse of daughter's hand as she grasps the next pitcher. Shout (but in a supportive way), "Don't drop it!"
12. Sounds of glass shattering. Dogs yelping. Long silence. Whirring sound as forearms flash and fingers extend: "She did it." A pool of yellowish liquid forms on the front porch. Dogs lap it up.
13. 6:30 pm, still 93 degrees. Seven hours of delightful parent-child bonding. Total collection: 78 cents and some chipped Pokemon thing. We have not kept our profit margin high. But apparently we did have fun: "Tiffany, she has all these seashells, and, like -- do you think we could sell 'em? Tomorrow, Dad? Pleaaase?"
Publication date: 06/10/04