On the first season of The Apprentice, one task Donald Trump instructed his contestants to perform was to open a lemonade stand. That episode showed that it’s not as easy as it sounds, if you’re accounting for costs and trying to make money.
But on Sunday, May 1, hundreds of thousands of kids in more than 30 cities will embark on this task, traditionally the first that budding entrepreneurs are exposed to in their childhoods. It’s called Lemonade Day, an event founded four years ago in Houston by Michael Holthouse to show kids between kindergarten and 12th grade how to become entrepreneurs.
Through a series of 14 lessons—setting a goal, budgeting, cost analysis, site selection, advertising, building a stand, opening a bank account, giving back to charity, and others—they learn more than 40 skills they’ll need in real life.
Kids will learn in life that they won’t get credit just for showing up—they get rewards for showing individual initiative and pursuing goals and dreams. They have to overcome their fears and follow a path they may never have taken, but that has great rewards.
This isn’t a project for a troop, class or club. Entrepreneurs are individuals. It’s not trophy day. Students participating in Lemonade Day aren’t given anything but a workbook. They have to do the work to earn the money for themselves—just like in real life.
But it’s not just about making money, it’s giving back.
On last year’s Lemonade Day, kids sold $6.8 million worth of lemonade and gave back $2 million to charity.
But that’s not why you need to know about it and support it.
Lemonade Day helps parents see and nurture the entrepreneurial skills that their kids will be called on as adults to navigate in their increasingly complex world.
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And that’s great, but here’s why you should give a damn: American business.
It’s been devolving lately. Small business, big business, non-profit business—you name it, it’s in a tailspin.
Once, they were the ones creating a world of abundance for employees, for communities, and for America itself. Today, many are increasingly focused on: “What’s in it for me?”
That gimme attitude has created a true “lack” mentality in our culture—and, worse, it’s trickled down to our youth.
Lemonade Day became important to me while I was chatting with a contractor’s assistant who was working on my house. He said he hoped his son could grow up and get a job at the local prison: “That’s the best job he could get.” No one ever tripped this man’s entrepreneur switch—so he imagines the same fate for his kid.
In a world where safe jobs are disappearing, it will be up to the individual to make a living for themselves. If we don’t awaken that entrepreneur spirit in kids, we’re looking at generations of people who won’t be able to start anything.
I live in Greene County, New York, a rural area two hours north of Manhattan, where developing entrepreneurial spirit will make a huge difference to the future of its citizens. That’s why I’m championing the event and setting a goal of opening 500 stands on Lemonade Day.
An entrepreneurial mindset to social responsibility means teaching kids they must think on their feet and welcome others. If they spend Lemonade Day looking at their shoes because they’re shy, they’ll learn that no one will buy from them—and hopefully overcome such counterproductive traits before they become life patterns.
If we business owners could change their mindset early on, kids will learn that they can be rewarded for their minds, their creativity—indeed, their entrepreneurism.
There are so many kids out there planning to do nothing when they graduate. If Lemonade Day sparks any to go out and open businesses, we’ll have succeeded. But if we miss the chance to show youth that making money is a good thing, then we as a society have truly failed.
And those are some of the reasons you should give a damn about Lemonade Day. What reasons would you add?
Check out lemonadeday.org to find out about joining or supporting local events.
OPEN Cardmember Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor, an industry authority on customer service and sales, a professional speaker, and the author of The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business.