By Renetta Perry
There’s nothing perhaps more refreshing than riding around New Orleans on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May, seeing brightly decorated lemonade stands with young, smiling faces serving up glasses of sweetness and success. Louisiana Lemonade Day, now in its ninth year, has successfully created a template from which our youth can develop advanced entrepreneurial skills, backed and supported by the expertise of two of Louisiana’s most successful businessmen, John Georges (CEO of Georges Enterprises) and Todd Graves (Founder, CEO, Fry Cook & Cashier of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers). John and Todd both respectively operated lemonade stands as kids, giving them their first taste of business operation.
Far beyond making a glass of delicious lemonade, Lemonade Day empowers youth and their families to take ownership of their dreams and encourages them to become productive members of society – the business leaders, social advocates, volunteers and forward thinking citizens of tomorrow.
Giving Youth The Tools For Success
Though Lemonade Day may seem trivial in its presentation, prior to taking the stage on their stands, young entrepreneurs are given an Entrepreneur Workbook that teaches them the 15 lessons of Lemonade Day including creating budgets, setting profit-making goals, serving customers, repaying investors, and giving back to the community. Along the way, they acquire skills in goal-setting, problem solving, and gaining self-esteem, all which are critical components for future success. They keep all the money they make and are encouraged to spend some, save some and share some.
In addition, young entrepreneurs become versed in financial literacy, economics, college and career readiness, life skills and personal development. There is also the reassurance that comes with the support of the community. Lemonade Day is as much about community and engagement as it is about supporting young entrepreneurs. On Lemonade Day, the community is encouraged to get out there and buy glasses of lemonade and get to know the young entrepreneurs in their communities. There’s also plenty to do in the months and weeks leading up to Lemonade Day. Mentoring youth, serving as a guest speaker in schools, donating funds, sponsoring stands in front of businesses, helping stuff backpacks or any number of volunteer activities.
National Lemonade Day
With the ethic in mind that America was built on the back of small businesses and entrepreneurs taking risks and believing they could realize their dreams if they worked hard, took responsibility and acted as good stewards of their resources, entrepreneur Michael Holthouse created National Lemonade Day. Today’s youth shared the optimism of the American business ethic, but lacked the life skills, mentorship and real-world experience necessary to be successful. In 2007, Holthouse had a vision to empower today’s youth to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs through helping them start, own and operate their very own business…a lemonade stand. Lemonade Day is a strategic lesson-based program that walks youth from a dream to a business plan while teaching them the same principles required to start any company. Since its launch in 2007 in Houston, Texas, Lemonade Day has grown from serving 2,700 kids in one city to 1 million children across North America. Lemonade Day sparks the spirit of entrepreneurship and empowers youth to set goals, work hard, and achieve their dreams.
Holthouse, is best known in the business world as the founder and President of Paranet, Inc., a computer network services company. As an Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year and a two-time Inc. 500’s list of fastest growing companies winner, Michael grew Paranet in 6 years to 27 offices, 1600 employees and revenues in excess of $100 million and ultimately sold the company to Sprint in 1997. Since then, he has focused on philanthropy, investments and a variety of business interests. Community involvement is an enormous part of Michael’s life, and he has served on a variety of children’s and civic boards.
His family foundation, Holthouse Foundation for Kids, focuses proactively on at-risk youth. His philanthropic venture is called Prepared 4 Life (P4L) which prepares middle school youth for life through fun, proactive and experiential after-school programs infused with life skills, character education and entrepreneurship. The most treasured part of Michael’s life is spending time with his wife Lisa and their four children.
Louisiana Lemonade Day has grown to become a highly anticipated event each year and continues to impact the lives of countless families in our community. Whatever career paths participants choose, they will be left with indelible impressions of success, derived from the success of their self operated businesses. “Not every kid wants to be or will be an entrepreneur, but we need to help kids achieve something, no matter how big or small,” Charlie Hamilton, Lemonade Day National Board Chairman.
To support Louisiana Lemonade Day or to register your child to participate in upcoming events, visit their website: www.lemonadeday.org. Until then, see you at the stands!
This article originally appeared in the New Orleans Data News Weekly.