Entrepreneurship can start early. One of the most popular ways to nurture a business mind in kids is to open a neighborhood lemonade stand. This can teach important lessons about hard work, responsibility and taking initiative. In fact, some enterprising kids have even used a lemonade stand to spur more ambitious business ventures.
However, each year, many of these stands get shut down by police or local health departments. Technically, opening a lemonade stand on a whim is against local ordinances and health codes. So how do you open one of these businesses without fear of being shut down? You need some careful planning and a lemonade stand permit. Here’s what you should know before opening a successful lemonade business with your kids this summer.
Get a Lemonade Stand Permit
Yes, technically you do need a vendor’s permit to sell lemonade in pretty much any community around the country. The exact regulations for a lemonade stand permit vary by location. So you’ll need to check in with your city or local government to find out what the process is and how much it costs.
Some communities also require you to get a health inspection, business license or permits for putting up signage around your community. So be sure to ask about these when getting that vendor’s permit.
Create a Business Plan
Every business requires a plan. A lemonade stand is no different. You’ll need to determine how exactly you’ll make money — what you’ll charge versus what your expenses are, how much you’ll need to sell and how you’ll go about attracting those sales to your stand. You can find sample business plan templates online and fill them out as a family to think about all the aspects of running your stand before actually getting it up and running.
Choose a Venue
Of course, the picture of a traditional lemonade stand is one that is simply set up on the sidewalk in front of your home. This can certainly work, especially if you live in an area with a lot of foot traffic or a lot of active neighbors.
However, this isn’t the only way to do it. If you want to bring in more customers, you might consider going to them. Purchase space at your local farmers’ market, flea market or community festivals. You’ll likely have access to much more traffic in these instances, though there will also probably be an extra vendor charge. However, setting up in one of these areas might actually make the lemonade stand permit process easier, as event organizers often make permits readily available to vendors.
Set Up Your Stand
The physical stand is an important part of any lemonade business. At the very least, you need something that’s sturdy enough to hold your lemonade, cups and cash register. A simple table may be good enough on a temporary basis. Just make sure to outfit it with a clean tablecloth and a nice sign.
If you want to get a little more in-depth, you can build a full stand out of wood or another sturdy material (with parental supervision of course). There are also a ton of pre-made stands available for purchase.
Stock Your Supplies
Every successful lemonade stand needs some delicious lemonade, either fresh squeezed or from a mix. You’ll also need disposable cups, ice, pitchers or dispensers and something to hold cash or payments. If you want, you might even offer some complementary items to upsell customers. Offer them a cookie or cupcake in addition to their lemonade for a discounted price.
Get Ready to Accept Payments
Most lemonade stands accept cash as a payment method. It’s easy for kids to deal with. And most people have small bills on them. However, if you want to make things extra convenient for customers, you might consider offering a credit card or mobile payment option. Card readers like Square are readily available and easy to use. They do take a small percentage of each purchase, so be sure to factor that into your business plan. But it might help you reach more people who don’t have cash on them. Just make sure there’s an adult around to handle this part of the process.
Brand Your Stand
For the most part, people don’t stop at lemonade stands just because they must have a cool, citrus-flavored beverage. They want to support a child in their entrepreneurial dreams; the lemonade is usually just a bonus. So if you really want to draw people in, decorate and brand your stand in a way that really personalizes it. “Timmy’s Lemonade Stand” with a hand-drawn photo of some lemons may be more likely to tug at the heartstrings than a simple, printed sign that reads “lemonade.”
Market Your Business
Your lemonade stand will only be successful if people know about it. To spread the word, put up signs around your neighborhood or in local business districts (provided you have the proper permits if your town requires them). You might also have your parents post about it on social media or take out an ad in a local newspaper or publication.