Teaching our kids to be successful entrepreneurs
When you walk into the national offices of Lemonade Day, located right here in Houston, the aesthetic of the place immediately grabs your attention. The walls, rugs, art and the front desk reception area are full of color and whimsy. All stimulate the senses — much like a child’s play room or an ice-cold glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Lemonade Day is, after all, committed to inspiring, uplifting and empowering our children, and the offices, most definitely, reflect that commitment.
Lemonade Day is an educational initiative. It started here in Houston but, in a just few years has expanded into cities across the U.S. and Canada. Its goal is to teach kids of all ages how to start, own and operate their own business: a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day — the event — takes place annually on the first Sunday in May.
In 2007, Houstonian Michael Holthouse and his wife,Lisa, founded Prepared 4 Life, a nonprofit created to empower today’s youth to become contributing members of society - through its core, asset-based experiential programs: Lemonade Day and the Lemonade Day Experience.
The idea for the organization came after a conversation Holthouse had with his daughter, Lissa. She wanted to buy — of all things — a turtle.
He told her, “When you start earning your own money, you can decide which pets you would like to have.”
Shortly afterwards, Lissa tried selling fresh lemonade from a stand in her neighborhood.
The venture wasn’t very successful, so Lissa asked her dad, “Why aren’t cars stopping?”
It was then Holthouse realized he had not taught his daughter any of the principles of business and life which had been so integral to his own success. (Holthouse owned a computer network services company and sold it to Sprint in 1997).
Little did father and daughter know at the time, the lessons taught that day would serve as the foundation for a national movement to teach kids about business plans and charitable giving!
Today, thousands of kids and their participating mentors (parents, teachers, coaches, adult friends, etc.) register for the program and receive a backpack with the materials, which include two workbooks — one for the kids and one for the mentors (who don’t need to be entrepreneurs themselves). Mentors must simply be willing to facilitate the kids’ work rather than do it for them.
Kids start by setting a goal, which may be something as simple as buying a new bike or having enough money for summer camp. Next, they must describe what they will do with their earnings and identify how much money is required to meet their goals. Then, they write a business plan, including budgeting and bringing an investor on board. They also study locations for their stand, factors that will enable them to select a site to reach a lot of thirsty people (with money). They must advertise, build their stand, purchase supplies and make sure they are following safety standards. Eventually, they are ready to set up and run the business.
After Lemonade Day each year, the kids evaluate their results. They identify what they did right, what they would do differently and repay their investors. Once the results are tabulated, the kids are encouraged to spend some (on whatever their goal was — bike, camp, etc.), save some (establish a bank account, become their own investor for a rainy day) and share some (establish a sense of philanthropy).
Julie Eberly, national president of Lemonade Day, said, “If we get this right, it will most definitely be the ‘tipping point’ for kids to discover their own American Dream.”
Eberly elaborated, “America became a world leader due to its entrepreneurial spirit. If we were following the trends of our forefathers and maintaining our world edge, the number of new small businesses in the U.S. would be around 1.5 million. As it stands today, we have fallen below 400,000.
“At Lemonade Day, we mean to change that. We are giving kids hope for a future where they actually believe in themselves and have the skills to take charge and succeed. They are not at the mercy of job creators; they can be job creators. The impact of teaching kids about entrepreneurship affects unemployment, GDP, charitable giving and so much more.”
Eberly continued, “We realize not every kid will be an entrepreneur, but we believe the lessons of entrepreneurship — curiosity, creativity, clarity of vision, effective communication, leadership acumen, taking risks and tenacity — will benefit every child.”
So do the leaders in many cities across the country.
Houston Independent School District, for example, believes the value of these lessons are so meaningful the school board has mandated all sixth, seventh and eighth graders participate in Lemonade Day. Google, too, is now on board, issuing this statement about its partnership with Lemonade Day: “We want to support organizations which have a healthy disregard for the impossible.”
Since 2007, Lemonade Day has grown from 2,700 kids in one city to over 250,000 kids in 50 cities across America and Canada.
The national office — with a staff of six — issues licenses to various cities and works with the leaders in each to bring together all the key elements. Each city works independently with their kids, but with assistance from support teams at the national level.
Lemonade Day has become so popular; it’s been expanded to reach a broader audience through a phone app, available via iTunes and the Android store. It utilizes the original 14 lessons with a new interactive video.
And now, with the help of partners like Google, Lemonade Day will bring this entrepreneurial experience to one million kids in 100 cities across America, sparking entrepreneurship and empowering youth in a way that’s never been done to scale.
Yes, it’s all very cool — as cool as an icy cold glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
Cover Story Archives
Browse through our cover story archives below and learn more about the amazing women who have graced the covers of Houston Woman Magazine:
COVER GIRLS – 2015
COVER GIRLS – 2014
Kjersti Aagaard, M.D.
Veronica Caseras Lee
Cora Sue Mach
Dr. Cheryl Peters
Penny Ann Reed
Linda Bell Robinson
Tiffany D. Thomas
COVER GIRLS – 2010
Nelda Luce Blair
Elaine Johnson, R.N.
COVER GIRLS – 2009
Jennie M. Bennett
Jacqueline Baly Chaumette
Laurie M. Glaze
Shay St. John
Rebecca Greene Udden
COVER GIRLS – 2008
COVER GIRLS – 2007
Lee Ann Elvig
Margo P. Geddie
Maria Emee Nisnisan
COVER GIRLS – 2006
Mary Bossier-Bearden, R.N.
Kristi Cullum, R.N.
Helen Currier. R.N.
Mary Grace Gray
Charleta Guillory, M.D.
Renae Schumann, R.N.
Y. Ping Sun
COVER GIRLS – 2004
Lisa Leal, M.D.