“Mom, I need money. I’m going to start a lemonade stand.” It’s March. Not lemonade weather.
“You know why.” He taps his foot. “My junior bow. I love lemonade. It’s delicious. I’ll make lots of money.” He’s been saving for his junior bow for months. I got him one for his birthday. The lawnmower ate it a month or two later, not before the roof claimed the suction-cup arrows. Life has been a flurry of extortion and savings ever since.
“That’s great. Where will you have your lemonade stand?”
“The end of the driveway…But I’ll have to go past the line…” He knows he can’t go past the line. He changes his mind. “No!” he says. “The playground! That’s better. The playground.” I ask why. “People are thirsty at the playground.” This kid knows his market.
I ask how he’ll fund his business. “It’s not a business. It’s a lemonade stand to get money for my junior bow.”
I rephrase, “How will you start this lemonade stand to get money? You need to buy the ingredients.”
“You have money. You buy the ingredients, Mommy.” He’s identified his market and approached an investor. Should I ask for his business plan?
“You’ll have to pay me back when sell your lemonade.”
“No, Mommy. The money is for me. I’m not giving you any. I really need it.” I try to explain how investments work. He only wants to talk cash.
I remember when I was in sixth or seventh grade, I made ribbon barrettes. Mom let me do it and bought the supplies. I worked hard. I undercharged for my product. She presented me with the receipts, took the cut she’d fronted, and my business folded. A harsh lesson in entrepreneurship. It’s why I’m such a bad entrepreneur today.
I can’t let him be a bad entrepreneur when he has the fire, passion, and ideas coming out of his soul.
“I’ll invest in your business,” I say.
“It’s not a business,” he repeats. “It’s a lemonade stand so I can get money for my junior bow.” He’s impatient. How can he partner with a person who doesn’t properly understand his mission? I will not be named Chairman of this Board.
“I’ll give you money for your lemonade stand so you can work for your junior bow.”
He extends his little hand. “How much?”
“Not now. I’ll buy the ingredients when it’s time. How about ten dollars?”
“I need more than that.” Here’s a boy who’s done market research. His ingredients will most certainly cost more than ten dollars.
“How much will you charge for each glass?”
“Four dollars, a dime, and three pennies.” Seems pricy outside Manhattan.
“That’s expensive. Lemonade should be fifty cents or so.”
“It has to cost a lot. I need the money.” There’s logic. Who doesn’t need money? I want to teach him his next lesson about market equilibrium, but I skip it. His hand’s still extended for the ten I’m not going to give him.
“Can I have these pennies now?” There are pennies on the desk. We’d been using them for math practice. Never keep money in sights of a future entrepreneur.
“Yes. You use them for your career as an entrepreneur.” I hand over the pennies. I got off cheap.
“I’m not going to be a….” He can’t say “entrepreneur.” “I’m going to be a paleontologist. With a lemonade stand to get money.”
Good thought. Academics are notoriously broke paying off student loans. You’ll need that lemonade stand for more than the bow if you go that route, kid.
“So, can I have the ten dollars? I tell him to go away and see me in July. He got the pennies, that’s enough. We’ll talk friends and family round then.