Start-Up – The (Sugar) Highs and Lows

For months, we have gathered, sorted, stacked and organized – all in preparation for The Big Day.  The day arrived, and I’m happy to tell you that we survived our weekend community garage sale.  {Heaves a big sigh of relief}

My kids were looking forward to the big day, too.  They wanted to test their skills as budding entrepreneurs by selling lemonade and doughnuts.  My older son planned it all out – he would do the lemonade and my younger son would sell the doughnuts.

“How much will you charge?” I asked them

“25 cents each,” my older son said.

“Will that cover your expenses and give you a profit?”

He gave me a blank stare.

Yes, we had some work to do, but it’s the fun kind of work – so unlike cleaning the bathroom and mopping floors, which I detest.  (This is an obvious statement to anyone who has ever been to my house.  Since most of you have not (to my knowledge) been to my house, consider yourselves lucky to have been spared the trauma.)

My older son made a list of expenses (cost of lemonade, ice, cups, doughnuts, etc.)  He figured out the cost per doughnut, and I explained that he would have to charge more than that to make a profit.  I explained profit as the money they got to keep, so he decided to charge $1 each for a doughnut and cup of lemonade.

I wanted to stay out of their business, but I wanted them to have a little business.  “Well, $1 each would turn a nice profit.” I said.  “Would you pay that price?”

“No.  It’s too much money.”  He paused.  “How about 50 cents?”

Now, schooled in price setting and profit margin, it was time to tackle advertising.  He made a sign with their prices and even drew pictures.  I gave him one piece of advice:  don’t badger potential customers; ask once and say thank you even if they decline.  The advice I gave to my younger son?  Don’t touch the doughnuts with your fingers – use a napkin.

They learned that a start-up takes planning and money.  They experienced the kindness of strangers, as some donated but didn’t take anything.  They discovered that sometimes debt can be forgiven (and parents aren’t always mean.)

They lost money in this venture, but the learning experience was priceless.  Besides, “eating the loss” was easy when washed down with some lemonade 🙂

Boys were excited to have "losses"

Matthew 6:12 – Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors.

Philippians 2:4 – Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

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20 thoughts on “Start-Up – The (Sugar) Highs and Lows

  1. nrhatch April 1, 2012 / 4:42 PM

    Wonderful experience for them . . . glad they had a few donuts left.

    When I read your comment about cleaning bathrooms and mopping floors, I immediately settled on next year’s Wergle Flomp poem . . . The House That Janna Cleaned. 😉

    BTW: If the poem wins any $’s (a long shot, of course) . . . I’ll pay you a share of the proceeds as a commission for the use of your name. And for your inspiration!

    • nrhatch April 1, 2012 / 4:44 PM

      How’d you make out at the yard sale . . . we earned $3.17 an hour for the prep work and sales time the last time we had a yard sale. Definitely not a get rich quick scheme.

      • jannatwrites April 1, 2012 / 6:43 PM

        Oh, Nancy….I’m not even going to figure out what our hourly rate was…I’d end up polishing off a box of doughnuts and chasing it down with Vodka! I don’t drink, so I can tell you Monday would be more painful than normal! After taking the kids out to dinner, we ended up with $174. The added benefit is that we have a few big items out of our way, thus have gained a little elbow room in our house. Hubby took unsold items to Goodwill today before they could sneak back inside 😆

      • nrhatch April 1, 2012 / 7:17 PM

        I agree! The benefit of yard sales is clearing clutter and making space. Any $’s pocketed is the icing on the donut.

        • JannatWrites April 1, 2012 / 7:53 PM

          “Icing on the donut”…you’re in a roll tonight, Nancy!

    • jannatwrites April 1, 2012 / 6:38 PM

      Well, my husband bought too many, so we had about 15 doughnuts left. Ick!

      Nice poem idea, Nancy, but you would have to call it “The House That Janna Never Cleaned” to be more accurate. However, I did clean the floors today…too tired to dust now (and it just settles again anyway…)

      Being the inspiration for your poem is prize enough…having my name in the title is an honor (even if it was ripping my lack of handywoman skills!)

  2. Carl D'Agostino April 1, 2012 / 6:02 PM

    The key to successful entrepreneurship is cutting out the middle man. Carnegie was into steel but cut costs by having his own iron mine fields. Then he cut out the railroads and built his own. Something to do with horizontal and vertical integration. Or that may be a disease. Whatever. So lets start planting lemon seeds and when them trees get to bloomin – well no grocery store middle man. Are you beginning to see how this works? I do not know what kind of trees donuts on own so you will have to research that part. Best of luck to all.

    • jannatwrites April 1, 2012 / 6:46 PM

      I’ve never seen a doughnut tree, so I think we’re out of luck on that one, Carl! We’ve planted two lemon trees, both of which died (one by frost and the other one probably by being in close proximity to me; killer of all things green.)

      Although this went better than the time they tried to sell snails in California, I’m thinking they need to find another business venture.

  3. J. P. Cabit April 2, 2012 / 5:22 AM

    What a cool experience for the kids!

    • jannatwrites April 2, 2012 / 5:28 AM

      They did have fun. Thanks for reading, Seph!

  4. Debbie April 2, 2012 / 8:41 AM

    A win-win situation, Janna. The kids got a valuable lesson in entrepreneurship, you got rid of at least some of your unwanted things, and you all got to eat the leftovers! We had a yard sale a few years ago, but didn’t clear anything near what you did — you must have more generous buyers, haha!

    • jannatwrites April 2, 2012 / 10:18 PM

      We had a few large/more expensive items – that’s the only reason we ended up that well. Getting rid of stuff was nice, but I still don’t enjoy the garage sale hosting experience, Debbie 🙂

  5. pattisj April 2, 2012 / 1:05 PM

    That’s great, Janna. My niece and I stopped at a lemonade stand in the neighborhood recently…not something seen very often. The kids were so tickled, once they’d earned enough to pay off their “loan” and the rest was theirs to keep. 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 2, 2012 / 10:24 PM

      That was nice of you, Patti. I can imagine they were thrilled. My kids kept all the coins from their sales for a party they want to have in June to celebrate Arkansas’ birthday. My older son is obsessed with Arkansas, and my younger son just likes a fun party!

  6. pattyabr April 2, 2012 / 5:49 PM

    great teaching lesson 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 2, 2012 / 10:26 PM

      We all learned a little, so it was a good day, Patty!

  7. chlost April 2, 2012 / 9:04 PM

    We loved Kool-aid stands as kids. Our kids tried it and it never went anywhere. People these days are not as likely to buy such things from kids, I think. It was a good idea to have a tie-in with the sale! Another lesson! Those losses do look delicious!

    • jannatwrites April 2, 2012 / 10:31 PM

      I think you’re right, Chlost. I’ve never bought drinks from kids (though I can’t remember seeing a lemonade stand). They’ve been wanting to sell lemonade, so we figured this would work best. I think they’ve gotten it out of their system now 🙂 Thanks for stopping by tonight!

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