At age ten, I was completely broke.
Two girls came to live in our home that year. They came with a mom and two brothers, but I thought about them less. My parents welcomed their family into ours.
Springtime broke into the Estes Valley, creating unlimited opportunities for pinecone and spear grass wars. I tried to express my affection for the new ladies by throwing a handful of needles into their backs. They were far from twitter pated.
Running away from my advances, they turned my brother’s and my eyes towards something far greater than sharp thistles and sap between our fingers. I agreed, anything to spend more time with them. They called it, “Entrepreneurship”. I called it, “Lemonade”.
This is a guest post by Jonathan Romig. Jonathan graduated from Colorado State University in May 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He worked for a year in Washington DC where he examined banks and traveled the country. This fall he will begin seminary at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and is hoping to become a pastor to young adults after graduation. He is currently working on his book project and website: Awkward Christianity.
I Heart Lemonade
A bypass runs alongside our home where cars speed by 10 miles over the limit. Our street cuts through, stretching up a much quieter section of roadway. Taking the time to select the best location, we pleaded with our parents to let us open shop on the fast road, all to no avail. So we opened shop on the quiet street.
The girls took a ride with their mom to the grocery store and brought back cups, tiny cups. I thought it was silly; tiny cups wouldn’t make anybody rich. You couldn’t drink anything from them. We could only sell them for 50-cents, and nobody would stop for tiny 50-cent lemonade.
I was wrong. The girls danced ballet in the middle of the street. The passing drivers had to slow. I understood. I would have stopped.
The first customer told us our product and location were good, but our cups were tiny. The next told us the same. We made $12.25 that afternoon, enough to reimburse the girls’ mom and go back and buy bigger cups.
Our everlasting summer was slain by money. The time had come to earn as many greenbacks as the passing tourists would give us. Our parents realized the more successful our business was, the more preoccupied and entertained we were. Moving us down to the highway they told us to not run in front of any cars.
“Stay off the asphalt,” my mom said before leaving to return to the house.
“Try the ballet thing again,” I whispered to the girls, wondering if I should push them out into the road.
We peddled for hours, selling our pink and yellow lemonade with bagels and stale cookies to any tourist that would stop. We were soon each making $65 a day. We were rich and the tourists, truckers, and neighbors knew us.
Three months later the family left, breaking our partnership, and my heart. The girls moved on, leaving Nathanael and me shaken, but confident our superior salesmanship could sell anything—girls or no girls.
We soon found out nobody stopped for two boys on the side of the street no matter how savvy their business skills. Thinking outside of the box, I got Nathanael to build a wooden box for me. I looked professional with “Lemonade Stand” painted across the front. No response.
We tried a different approach, dressing up in red-white-and-blue for the Fourth of July. Mom and some passing cowgirls thought we were cute. We were ashamed.
What I learned…
I left my illustrious career as a lemonade stand entrepreneur to work in the corporate world at a tourist shop downtown. The pay and hours were steady, but the sun was gone and my money was only my money after taxes and more taxes.
Three lessons to learn:
- Starting a business takes teamwork and enthusiasm.
- Location, location, location.
- Creation, success, and failure are all an option, but regret is not.
Remember, starting a business may take our time, energy, and money, but we’ll take its memories. That’s what I learned from lemonade stand entrepreneurship.
Photo by: Rocket Ship