Home-made Cookies & Lemonade: Great Lesson in Small Business for Homeschoolers
Not long ago my daughter pointed at something in a sales flyer and let me know she REALLY wanted to have it. Her birthday and Christmas are still quite a way off, so I suggested she try to earn the money with a “Home-made Cookies and Lemonade” stand here in the wonderful city of Philadelphia. Our two-day adventure ended up being a great lesson in small business for her and her brother. Here are a few things they learned:
1. You need help to make a small business work. My husband and I talked to my daughter and helped her understand she was going to need a little help from me, and she was also going to need a child helper. (She chose her little brother.) She needed my help with the investment money and the cooking. She needed her brother’s help with the poster-making, the advertising, and just to be around and give her a break when she needed it.
2. You need to put out money in order to make money. (And if you don’t have money you have to take out a loan.) My daughter didn’t have any money of her own, so my husband and I bought her the supplies she needed: lemonade drink mix, plastic cups, eggs, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, butter, shortening, etc. The expectation was that she would pay us back from the sales she made before she did anything else with her income.
3. Making a business work takes hours of preparation. My daughter and I spent several hours making several dozen chocolate chip cookies.
4. Advertising and good service is essential. My children spent a lot of time creating bright posters that they could wear advertising their cookies and lemonade. They also waved and smiled at potential customers, and remembered to be polite, saying “please” and “thankyou”.
5. Location is key. We had a long conversation trying to decide where would be the best place to set up the stand. We finally decided on the bottom of the block, because there is a traffic light there. We thought customers might want to buy the cookies while waiting at the red light.
6. Timing is important. We decided that the best time to set up the stand would probably be after 3pm when the kids would be coming home from school and many adults would be getting off of work.
7. You need to anticipate problems. We chatted about where they would keep the money they earned while they were selling, and what they should do if someone tried to steal it. We also decided that I would stop by their stand every so often and collect cash, so that if anyone did steal their money, they wouldn’t get all of it.
8. Math skills are necessary. The kids realized that they would sometimes need to give customers back change. Mathematics became real and practical.
9. A good product sells itself. Fortunately, the cookies were a hit! Home-made, right-from-the-oven cookies are a bit of a novelty. Many customers tried a few, and then came back and bought more.
10. Pay off your debts, tithe, and divide the profits. My kids had to pay us back for the money we put out for their supplies. ($20) Next we reminded them that they needed to give God some of their “first fruits”. Finally, they were able to divide the profit.
Bonus Lesson: People can be so generous! Many customers gave the children more than what they were charging for the cookies and lemonade. They told them to keep the change. One customer gave them $20 and didn’t even take any cookies. We were blown away and so blessed by the generosity of others!
So, how did they do? My kids did great! I was so proud of them! After paying back Mom and Dad, they made $28 the first day and $46 the second day! They gave more than 10% to the Lord, and then still had plenty left to spend. Not long after, I took them shopping. My daughter bought herself a portable CD player, and my son bought a Lego Transformer set. (extremely cool!)
The cookie and lemonade stand was a wonderful lesson for the kids: in homeschool, business, and life!
Copyright October 2nd, 2011 by Gwen Fredette