While jogging on a hot summer’s day, I saw a group of kids sitting at a meticulously built lemonade stand wearing big smiles on their faces. I noticed there were three of them. One was holding a sign and interacting with those walking or driving by, one took orders, and the other poured the lemonade – all under the distant supervision of a caring mother.
As I continued my run, I thought about how such a simple and innocent transaction, such as selling lemonade, provides invaluable business lessons that can help anyone to become a successful entrepreneur – particularly those who offer professional services.
So what are the lessons that can be learned from kids operating a lemonade stand?
Well it all depends on what kind of lemonade stand you are speaking of. The kind I’m talking about – and the type this article focuses on – is thriving lemonade stands; the ones that customers frequent, don’t mind paying extra for, and recommend to others.
If you were to operate a lemonade stand, isn’t that the kind you’d want to have?
Many service professionals (those who sell some form of assistance, skill, talent, or expertise to others) should view their operation as a lemonade stand, and their service as the lemonade.
Basically, anyone who is self-employed and renders services of any kind, on their own accord, for which they are paid by a customer or client, has a lemonade stand.
While reflecting further on that hot summer day I realized that the most significant aspects of running a thriving lemonade stand are so obvious, logical, and simplistic, that they are often overlooked when people start to “think” about starting a business.
The simplicity of a thriving lemonade stand – and the entrepreneur’s desire to have one – served as the inspiration for this article and the popular Lemonade Stand Workshops that I conduct. Both are based on my book, How to Create a Thriving Lemonade Stand: Your Blueprint For Selling More Services, which includes information on how to create a prosperous and fulfilling service-driven business, and instruction on how to:
1.) SET UP AN ATTRACTIVE LEMONADE STAND: The lemonade stand that I jogged past was not the first that I’ve seen, but it was the first that made me take note because of its meticulousness. The same holds true for service-driven entrepreneurs: How your place of business looks will cause prospective clients to either be attracted to you, or ignore you. Whether you house your operation in a physical location or only have a website, set-up your lemonade stand to have a look that’s authentic, organized, and visually appealing.
2.) MAKE THE BEST LEMONADE: How do you make your services the best? By researching and analyzing the other lemonade stands (professionals) in your area who offer lemonade (comparable services) and honestly evaluating your chances of competing against them before you set up a lemonade stand of your own.
In the end, the best lemonade stand will be determined by those that do the best job of finding a niche that fulfills the needs and desires of a particular demographic.
Also, if you don’t find (or worse, don’t acknowledge) any competition it means one of two things: One, you haven’t researched well enough; two, your services may not be viable enough to offer in your area – which is why no one else is doing it. To create a thriving lemonade stand, you will have to use all the information you can to get an edge.
3.) POSITION YOUR LEMONADE STAND: What distinguishes one lemonade stand from the other? It’s not just the lemonade; it’s what people think of, and say about it that makes the difference. In other words, how it’s perceived.
Yes, lemonade basically consists of water, sugar, and lemons; simple ingredients that are readily available to all. In order to distinguish your lemonade you will need to offer a brand of lemonade (services) that your competition doesn’t, or in a way that your competition can’t.
A quick web search on lemonade recipes reveals the following variations on a simple theme: Strawberry Lemonade; Fresh Peach Lemonade; Ginger Lemonade; Green Apple Lemonade; Hawaiian Lemonade; Kiwi Lemonade; Minty Green Tea Lemonade; Pineapple Lemonade; Pink Lemonade; Raspberry Lemonade; Tropical Lemonade; and Watermelon Lemonade.
Would your lemonade stand be able to compete with one that offers this type of variety? What do you want people to say about your lemonade stand and your lemonade? Properly positioning your lemonade stand will make it easier to rise above the competition.
4.) WIN AND RETAIN CUSTOMERS/CLIENTS: “Minty Green Tea Lemonade” is less likely to be a hit in Compton, California as it is in Santa Monica, California. The same holds true for the services you render; your market (neighborhood) will dictate the demand for the type of services you will supply most abundantly. Flavors, sizes, decorative or re-usable cups, crushed ice, shaved ice, iced cubes, whatever they want – give it to them. If you don’t, someone else will. Thriving lemonade stand owners put forth steady effort to stay in tune, and in touch with the needs and desires of their customers/clients.
5.) RUN YOUR LEMONADE STAND WITH EFFICIENCY: On that day in August while jogging, I didn’t stop to buy a glass of lemonade, but it was clear that the lemonade was in demand (partially due to the extreme heat). What was also clear was how well the kids were handling the demand; working systematically as a team. Most lemonade stand owners strive for this type of efficiency, but very few actually achieve it. Running your lemonade stand with efficiency is the key to productivity and profitability.
Whether you are a service-driven professional who has been doing business for years and you want to enhance operations and increase sales, or you want to try entrepreneurialism because you were recently laid off or fired, the information in How to Create a Thriving Lemonade Stand: Your Blueprint For Selling More Services will help you turn your lemon of a situation into refreshing lemonade.
Gian Fiero is a seasoned educator, speaker and consultant with a focus on business development and music/entertainment industry operations. His affiliations include San Francisco State University (adjunct professor); SBA (business advisor); National Association Of Record Industry Professionals (associate director San Francisco chapter); CLA (speaker); West Coast Songwriters (industry judge); and The Muse’s Muse (senior music reviewer and producer of the Muse’s Muse Awards).
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