running a business? 10 hot tips from a 10-year-old biz whiz

are you smarter than a 5th grader? 10 hot business tips from a 10-year-old kid. Totally cute, totally smart.

Okay, okay. So my 10 year old may not be a business expert quite yet. In fact, he’s only run a business for one day this year, hosting his own lemonade stand last week. But he did it so well ($33 in two and a half hours) and learned so much in the process, I invited Ryder to tag-team with me on this post, sharing his tips for all of us grown-ups who may sometimes forget the fundamentals of doing good business.

So, here are his 10 tips for running an awesome lemonade stand – with a little insight from his entrepreneur mama… (and p.s. if you leave a comment for him or like the post, it’d make his day I’m sure!).

lemonade stand kiddos

1. Make very good lemonade.  

“If they don’t like it,” Ryder says, “they might want their money back or tell other people that it’s gross and then they won’t buy it.” True with everything we make, right?

2. Make the price high.

I think what he means is don’t shortchange yourself. Ryder and his friend Elli priced their lemonade at 50 cents a cup. More than other neighborhood kids have charged – but customers were willing to pay it and the higher price helped them cover the costs of all the materials (cups, lemonade, new pitcher). Oftentimes, when pricing our goods, we entrepreneurs forget to consider all the costs of running a business, the quality of our products and the value of our time. What feels too high might actually be just right.

lemonade stand - little guy holding sign

3. Cuteness attracts people. 

Ha! I love this one. When Ryder and Elli’s little brothers begged to hang out at the lemonade stand, the big kids were less than pleased, worried the little guys would be annoying and distracting. But they quickly realized the opposite was true; the little ones were so enthusiastic, yelling (and never correctly pronouncing) “lemonade!!!” at passing cars, that Ryder and Elli realized they were actually an asset. And why? Because cute kids make people happy. Anytime we can do that in our work – make people happy through inspiration, creative marketing, or authentic sharing – we forge more than a business connection. We create a human connection.

4. Ask for help. 

Ryder says he wouldn’t have known how to have a lemonade stand had I not shown him the ropes when he was five. 🙂 He also appreciated a little marketing advice…like when I suggested they adjust their “buy 7, get one free” promotion, noting that not many cars will hold eight people! Asking for help doesn’t come easy for all entrepreneurs, especially after we’ve been in business for a while. Easy to convince ourselves we should know everything and common to have too much pride to be willing to show our weaknesses, right? And yet it’s often the smartest thing we can do for our own growth. Find good mentors, get good help.

principal visits lemonade stands

5. Be nice and customers will be nice back. 

These kids were all smiles, waving at cars, saying hi to people walking by. They engaged potential customers with kindness – and it worked. And a kindness role model – their amazing school principal Mr. Carpenter, who literally remembers the name of every kid (and parent!) he meets – stopped by on his bike! Now, they want to hold another lemonade stand with part of the proceeds going to their school. Nice. 

6. Give everybody something to do. 

Ahhhh, yes – the power of delegation. Ryder and Elli did a good job of giving each other and their little brothers jobs. Elli took people’s orders and collected money. Ryder poured the lemonade and counted the money (frequently). At one point, they decided Elli should leave her post to stand on the next street corner and wave cars in – and it actually worked. They made their brothers feel useful, too, with minimal micromanaging. I’ve mentored many small business leaders who were frustrated by the lack of motivation among their staff, only to realize that those employees had no job descriptions, clear boundaries or regular reviews to give them a sense of purpose. You can’t meet expectations if none have been given to you.

7. Share your money. 

I was proud of the way Ryder and Elli divided their earnings. They split their profits – but Ryder got one extra dollar for heading up the biz. And they each told their little brothers they’d purchase a toy for them as thanks for their efforts (Ryder got Tru a plane and was soooo proud to do so).

8. Teenagers are the best customers! 

Ryder has been telling everyone this and it’s true; we were amazed how many teens took the time to pull over and not only purchase lemonade, but give the kiddos hefty tips. One car of high school boys said they didn’t need any lemonade, but just wanted to contribute to the fund! When we mentioned this to our 17-year-old babysitter, she said, “Well, of course – because we all remember having our own lemonade stands not that long ago!” Ahhhhh, got it! Gathering up support from those who have stood in your shoes not so long ago is a brilliant strategy. No matter what our business is, we’re still walking in others’ footsteps and can learn from them, lean on them and then offer the same support to those that come after us. That’s good business.

9. Enjoy your own lemonade. 

Love this one, Ryder! So true. If you don’t actually like your own product or take time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, how can you expect anyone else to?

lemonade stand - ryder in shades

10. Have fun. 

Most important tip of all! No, running a business isn’t all fun. There are tons of tasks you won’t love (some that you can eventually delegate…see #6). But seeing your own vision come to life and making money from your own ideas or creations is an amazing adventure. If you’re not having fun a lot of the time, feeling purposeful and happy about your work, you know something’s up. Time to start turning lemons into lemonade – or take down your stand.

Thanks again, whiz kid, for the reminders! Now, we’re off to buy more lemonade (he’s been bit by the entrepreneurial spirit and can’t wait to host another stand – this time complete with bags of popcorn and Arnie Palmers!).