for a good cause
Lemonade Day helps young entrepreneurs learn the sweet side of running a small business
When life gave Michael Holthouse lemons, he made Lemonade Day.
Holthouse is an entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist and founder of the Holthouse Foundation For Kids, an organization that helps at-risk youth through experiential after-school programs. It was Holthouse’s experience with this kind of work — and a special morning spent with his 10-year-old daughter Lissa — that gave him the idea for Lemonade Day.
On a Sunday in 2007, when customers weren’t stopping at Lissa’s lemonade stand, Michael wanted to help her solve the problem. “All day long Lissa was asking questions,” Michael says, “and we were experientially discovering the answers.” Inspired by the realization that these entrepreneurial skills could be invaluable to other children, Holthouse launched Lemonade Day.
The initiative, which falls annually on the first Sunday of May, is free to join and takes place at various locations around each participating city. Through the implementation of 14 steps ranging from goal setting to budget planning, borrowing money and determining the perfect location, children form mini-business models for their ideal lemonade stand. The organization provides the child with a backpack filled with the materials they will need to start their own business.
Through the implementation of 14 steps ranging from goal setting to budget planning, borrowing money and determining the perfect location, children form mini-business models for their ideal lemonade stand.
“By setting a goal, making a plan, and by working that plan,” Holthouse says, “[kids] can achieve anything they want. Their own American Dream.”
And Holthouse should know. He’s the founder and president of Paranet, Inc., a computer network services company that boasted 1600 employees and revenues exceeding $100 million before the company sold to Sprint in 1997.
Holthouse was also named the INC. Magazine “Entrepreneur of the Year” and was the two-time winner of the “Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Company” award.
Given these figures, it’s no surprise that in its first year, Lemonade Day pulled 2,600 stands in Houston alone and has increased every year since. According to Holthouse, Lemonade Day 2012 projects over 200,000 stands with approximately 400,000 participants in 40 cities nationwide.
“The first city we went to outside of Houston,” Michael says, “was Austin.” With the help of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas and a sponsorship by Trilogy, Holthouse was able to bring Lemonade Day to Austin in 2009.
“We want every child in America, at some point, to do a lemonade stand,” Holthouse says. “We think it is such an important part of learning to be an American.”
That’s why Lemonade Day is a domestic venture — at least, thus far. By 2013, Holthouse hopes to establish Lemonade Day in 100 American cities with his sights set on at least one million stands.
“We think it is such an important part of learning to be an American.”
That’s a lot of lemonade but, moreover, that’s an even bigger opportunity to make a positive change in a child’s life.
“Because Lemonade Day is fun and experiential,” Holthouse says, “it is something that will be with this child forever.”
Michael Holthouse’s Quick Tips For Lemonade Day:
- Make sure that your child is the one doing the selling. He or she may be shy at first but, once they score their first sale, they’ll turn into a selling machine.
- Consider where all the thirsty people are but also consider that it’s tough to make a profit with joggers.
- “Everybody loves to help kids. Let them grow and make mistakes.”