Erin Klem  | May 6, 2014

When Life Hands You Lemons: Childhood Classic Makes Kids into Entrepreneurs

Take one cute kid, add a lemonade stand, and sprinkle in some charity, and you’ve got the recipe for a successful business.  At least, that’s what 9-year-old Mikaila Ulmer discovered when she started her lemonade business five years ago. (Yes, you read that correctly, Mikaila was only 4 years old at the time.)

BeeSweet Lemonade was born when this wunderkind came across a lemonade recipe in her 88-year-old grandmother’s cookbook. Mikaila took the recipe and added her own touch to create the mint-, honey-, and flaxseed-infused liquid that brought every other lemonade stand to its knees.

Why stop there?  Ever the entrepreneur, Mikalia bottled her lemonade and sold it to her local Whole Foods.  When she’s not making her product –or catching up on her 4th grade reading assignments –Mikalia can be found harvesting honey or campaigning to save the American Honey Bee.  You know—typical kids’ stuff.

Mikalia is just one of the growing number of children who will be celebrated on May 4 during Lemonade Day.  Started in Houston, TX in 2007, Lemonade Day has grown into a national phenomenon with over 200,000 students participating in 33 cities across the globe.

The concept of Lemonade Day is pretty simple:  Children throughout the country attend hands on entrepreneurial and life skills training side-by-side with caring adults and mentors.  Then, one day each year, they put into practice the entrepreneurial skills they’ve learned by operating their own lemonade stand.

“This is not some text book activity where [students] sit and fill out a work book.” Lemonade Day Founder Michael Holthouse said in a recent interview with the NFIB. “It’s about setting goals; making a plan…students go out and borrow $20 from someone they know.  They negotiate terms, talk about what happens if they default on the loan.”

Sounds like a pretty serious business, but Michael assures everyone that the kids love it:

“We give kids experiential activities and teach them goal setting, making plans and they walk away with a fistful of money – What better reinforcement?”

What better reinforcement, indeed. So this Lemonade Day, be sure to raise a glass of that childhood classic, and toast the next generation of business owners.