Very few things represent summer more than a lemonade stand. I was reminded while visiting my niece's lemonade stand the lessons all business owners can learn from this first step into the entrepreneurial journey.
Location, Location, Location
The first thing my niece did well is she put her lemonade stand on the corner of a very busy street.
When starting your business, location is everything. If selling a physical product, you need to ensure an adequate number of physical locations and your product must be visible and easily accessible. Don't make the mistake of believing the hard part is getting a product on the shelf--it's just as difficult (and important) to get the product off the shelf and into your customer's hands.
If you are planning to sell a service, picking a city and location within that city is equally as important. When I started my research company, I placed it in the Perimeter area of Atlanta because it is central to the 5 primary business centers. This location made it easy to travel to customers and have them travel to my location. Atlanta is a good market because of the number of large companies as potential customers.
Timing is Everything
Lemonade stands are in high demand in the summer, but don't have much success in the winter.
Do some research and know your market. Learn what types of products and services sell best and when. Very few companies I work with are immune to some type of cycle--based on fiscal calendars, seasonal factors or even vacation schedules. You must time entering the market and survive the ebbs and flows that are a natural part of running a business.
Give a Sample
My niece is very quick to offer up a sample before letting her patrons know the $1.00 price tag.
You should plan to give away free samples of your products or services. Daniel Lubetzky, creator of the Kind bar, increased his sampling budget from $800 in 2008 to a massive increase in 2009 of $800,000. He credits this increase to the success that Kind is experiencing and now spends upwards of $10 million on efforts to get people to try Kind bars.
Who is Selling the Product Matters
There is no better salesperson for lemonade than my niece. She is enthusiastic about flagging cars down and hustles to get the product in her customers' hands.
Make sure your sales team is just as excited about the product being sold as you are. You need cheerleaders promoting your product or service - not someone who is just there to collect a paycheck. A sales team that understands the product and is enthusiastic about selling it yields higher sales, takes on larger markets and creates more demand. They are willing to attend networking events, promote your product via social media and their efforts will ultimately lead to the greatest success.
Always Have Something to Upsell
My niece had chocolate chip cookies available for upsell and she pushed them to everyone that bought a drink.
When growing a business, don't limit yourself to just one product or service. You may find that your initial product is the giveaway or must be discounted to gain the customer. It's in the upsell that you make the most money. This is especially true in the restaurant space. A burger joint makes very little on the burger. Their profit is found in the milkshakes and fries added to the order.
The hardest part is getting your customer in the door; increase your profit by adding on to their sale. What else can you offer?
Some of the most important lessons in sales can be learned from the simplicity of a lemonade stand.