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Donna Barker

Stepping into the business world

“Free lemonade! Free lemonade! Come get your free lemonade ...only 55 cents.”

There’s something wrong with the above statement, but my 5-year-old granddaughter Brynnan was having trouble wrapping her mind around the discrepancy as she tried to attract customers to her lemonade stand with her “Free lemonade, only 55 cents” call.

To make matters even worse, the sign on her cardboard lemonade stand was clearly marked that everything was 25 cents.

But Brynnan, if not necessarily highly-developed in business skills just yet, is definitely the optimist.

We were visiting Brynnan and her family in Salt Lake City a couple weeks ago when Brynnan decided she needed to earn some money. She sat on the couch, thinking of her options. She could ask her folks for some money. She could do some extra chores. She could go into business for herself, which seemed like the most fun at the time.

After all, it was a sunny, warm day in Utah, and lemonade stand businesses are run outside. Also, Brynnan had a little experience in the lemonade stand business, since her friend, Chloe, had operated one a couple weeks prior. Brynnan was pretty sure her folks would help her with any start-up costs. Her grandparents were there to serve as her assistants, and customers, if needed.

So all of sudden, Brynnan and her grandmother were in the lemonade stand business.

As we gathered the essentials for her lemonade stand, Brynnan decided she also wanted to offer cookies to her customers. Unfortunately, we had only one homemade cookie in the house.

I suggested we write “cookie,” not “cookies,” on our homemade advertising sign, sort of a first-come, first-serve kind of solution.

But, as boss, Brynnan decided the better way to solve the cookie problem was to simply break the one cookie into three pieces. That way we could legitimately say “cookies” in the plural on our sign, which is what we did.

After one cookie got sold, thanks to Grandpa, Brynnan broke the remaining two pieces in half again, so we now had four very small cookies to sell.

We worked the neighborhood for a couple hours before Brynnan closed her business for the day, vowing to open again the next afternoon. After all, business people do learn to persevere.

But after two days, Brynnan decided she might not be ready for an extended time in business.

Looking back, Brynnan did pretty well in her first business adventure, earning almost $11, thanks to generous neighbors who stopped by, and in large part, to her Grandpa who didn’t mind spending 25 cents for some lemonade and another 25 cents for a petite cookie.

For me, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a few hours with my granddaughter. We were outside in the sunshine with the Utah mountains in the background. We were relaxed and enjoying each other’s company. I was seeing the business world through a 5 year old’s eyes — the thrill of customers and the agony of a slow day.

As Brynnan’s mostly silent partner, I was there to reinforce some important business and people skills for Brynnan — to remember to say “thank you” to customers and to be gracious in word and deed to motorists who did not stop.

As she closed up her business on that second day and counted her money with her folks, Brynnan agreed some of that money would go into her savings; some she would give to someone in need; and the rest she could use when she went shopping with her mom.

Running a business, if only for a few hours, can bring long-lasting rewards and memories.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker at dbarker@bcrnews.com.