Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Entrepreneurial spirit in the form of selling lemonade

As a child, growing up in Southern California, summer had a different meaning than it does for me now while living in Logan. I now see it as a heavenly two- or three-month period. Accustomed to heat and all-around wonderful weather, it meant a break from school and a chance to make a little spending money for some coveted bubble gum balls and basketball cards. When the temperature would get very hot in summer, as it always did, I was granted the opportunity to exercise my entrepreneurial spirit selling lemonade.

Rob Goates
Armed with a small card table and a folding chair, I enlisted the help of my little brother, Jon, to become my “business partner,” in which we would evenly split the earnings after doing our share of work. We first found our supplier; in this case it was my mom. With our lemonade powder, water, sugar and ice, we were ready to begin. (Or so we thought; we also found that there is a science to making lemonade, and we learned that the hard way)

After choosing the location at the corner at the end of our subdivision, we began to wait. And wait. And wait. My mother came out and was nice enough to buy one from us, allowing us some momentary joy; however, it was short lived, as it soon became apparent that our location wasn’t great. Nevertheless, we couldn’t move - that was the stipulation of our investor, i.e. my mom, and we were stuck there. So the waiting continued.

As the sun continued to beat down, we decided to try our hand at advertising our immovable location to bring in more customers. This, we found, was also not as easy as we thought. My mom, again to the rescue of her seemingly helpless sons, taught us the principle of using vibrant colors and big, bold lettering to catch the attention of those driving past. And, much to our surprise, it worked okay. Bringing in two or three more customers gave us renewed vigor and strength to continue on in our endeavor. We wanted more.

We hollered and yelled our little lungs off, hoping to attract any attention at all given that the sun was fading fast and we had not a moment to lose. We knew that once it started to cool down we didn’t have a prayer. Then, when we had sat back in our chair (we shared one), resigned to call it our day’s work and making what seemed small, it happened.

“Hello? Are you still selling lemonade?” it was a middle-aged woman, in a minivan, with six children buckled into their seats.

“Yes, ma’am, we sure are,” our eyes lit up.

“I’d like seven.”

Seven? Seven! Wahoo! We leapt to action and served them up quick, collecting to us what seemed a fortune, full of gratitude for that nice woman who took pity on two haggard-looking little boys, exhausted from a day of yelling.

I learned many valuable life lessons that summer day. I’m reminded of it often during times like these when heat returns and kids come out on the streets to continue the age-old practice of making a buck or two selling lemonade.

Rob Goates


  1. You grew up in Southern California and didn't use real lemons!?

  2. Haha! Good point but it was the off-season for citrus fruit, as they're mostly a winter and early spring harvest. A sad trick nature plays, I know, wish we had real lemons available..