Lemonade Stands, Lawn Mowers and Entrepreneurship
How it all began
I know that Lemonade Stands, Lawn Mowers and Entrepreneurship is somewhat of an odd topic but trust me, it all relates together. Recently, I was reflecting as to how did I get this entrepreneur spirit. It didn’t take me long to pin point the exact moment when I was introduced to the concept of “creating your own check”. Something very simple but we just don’t see it too much these days.
It was the summer of 1981 and I had a good friend that stayed across the street from us named Tyrone. We hung real tight and would get into the typical “boy stuff” as any pre-teen would. He also had a younger sister named Joanna that in later years I would think that somehow this story would plant a small seed as well. As it goes, one day myself and Tyrone wanted to buy something (I can’t remember what it was) but we didn’t have the money. My mother somehow overheard the conversation and came up with an idea………Sell some lemonade. It made sense because at the time, our neighborhood was full of kids. On the next street over, we had a candy lady, a doughnut lady and in the summer time; the ice cream truck. All of which made plenty of money from us because that what kids did at the time…..spend money. So the aspect of selling lemonade and candy (added later) was a no brainer to us. We just had to get what we needed together. We had tables and chairs but we needed lemonade, sugar, candy, ice and anything else we needed to pull this off. So with my mother’s help, we went down to the corner store (a Black owned corner store which later gave me my first official “job”) and purchased everything that we needed. The next day we set up our “stand”, had our sale and it was a success. Well, except for the some of the candy that we lost due to it melting because it was summertime LOL!!!
My father taught me how to skillfully use the lawn mower, weed eater and the clippers so by the time I was 14 years old, I had a full fledged lawn care business. Not only did he teach me how to use the equipment, he also taught me how to repair them as well. Up until this day, I’ve never had to take any equipment to get repaired whenever they would get broken because I was taught how to fix them. When I was 15 years old, I got my first commercial account from a business that wanted me to upkeep their property. It was from that experience where I gained the knowledge of invoices, investment and profits. From there, I created my first contract where I would get paid year round to be retained as that business’s lawn care provider.
I share all that for this reason when I talk about Lemonade Stands, Lawn Mowers and Entrepreneurship. As parents, we can plant the seeds of entrepreneurship early by just encouraging our children to produce income from their own hands. It helps shape the mindset of self sufficiency and reduces the expectancy of somebody else’s system to rescue them. If it’s nothing but a conversation from time to time, it still plants a seed of an idea of endless possibilities. From that simple lemonade stand, it help foster an idea in me that I can create my own check even if I didn’t have a job. We are a creative people and we have to bring that spirit back to our individual mindsets and families because the impacts are not just in that moment but generational.
The last year that I’ve ever worked for someone was in 2004. Has the last 12 years been easy as an entrepreneur? Absolutely not. Has it been worth it? You better believe it! My wife and I have children that have watched us produce for ourselves and as a result they have started doing the same thing in their own ways. As they mature in their journeys and have children, they will pass the same knowledge to them. We also need to remember that people pay attention to us even when we think no-one is looking. Remember Tyrone’s little sister Joanna? Well today, some 35 years later; she’s the owner of a successful day care. I can’t help but question if what she saw her older brother and friend do with a lemonade stand on that summer day in 1981 help plant a small seed in her mind to be an entrepreneur as well :). I will forever be thankful for Lemonade Stands, Lawn Mowers and Entrepreneurship.