Running a lemonade stand is something that is a quintessential notation associated with childhood but many kids don’t get the opportunity to pursue such an endeavor in 2019. There are many competing demands and interests for children’s time.
Though many of those other demands are necessary and those other interests worthwhile, it seems there might still be something to be gained and learned from the seemingly simple task of running a lemonade stand or mowing neighborhood yards (these days the domain of companies run by adults). These require planning to get the supplies, effort to find locations or customers, organizing your schedule, decisionmaking regarding going solo or having a partner, and calculating how much money you really made after all was said and done.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Or do they?
You can’t throw a loquat without hitting a Grassroots student entrepreneur or someone working for one. Businesses of all kinds have been operated over the years at Grassroots Free School. A few recent ones: lollipop sales, temporary (ink/marker) tattoo drawing/application, and a detective agency.
In fact, creating and running businesses is big business at GFS. The kids are allowed to make real-life money from their businesses. Most selling is to other kids, but sometimes it is to parents and people who drive in and out of the larger Grassroots community that surrounds the school. Students selling items on school property must agree to give a specific percentage of their earnings to the school’s PowWow fund for the ability to make money on school property. This simply becomes part of their operational overhead.
Some students own and operate more than one business at a time. Some of the companies consist of only the business creator, while others have employees and promotional tracks. Some businesses are fly-by-night, lasting only long enough to fulfill the original purpose and then dissolving. Others are well-organized and long-term ventures operating for several years.
These entrepreneurial adventures allow the kids of Grassroots to learn about what interests them and to test out aspects of work related to those interests in a safe environment. Don’t like it? Close your company and move on. Like it? Keep on and maybe expand in some way.
There are other benefits the students gain from creating, operating, and closing businesses. The kids learn about working together on a project if they have other people in their company. They learn about competition in the market place, price points, and saturation of the market. Because real money can be made, if more than one kid is working the sale/business, the students have the opportunity to split any earnings so wages must be determined, after accounting for any operating costs. Some kids realize they would rather work for a friend than be in charge or would rather advertise and promote the company instead. All of the kids, whether worker or owner, will have to learn when is the best time to walk away from a job or close their company’s doors, even if it is just to go to high school. That too is an important lesson to learn because there are options even at the end of things.
But right now is the beginning. School year 2019-2020 is starting and rest assured that this year will bring a whole new crop of GFS businesses. May all their entrepreneurial dreams come true!