As cliché as a Norman Rockwell painting, kids have been selling lemonade on hot afternoons since suburbs were invented. While you may have thought these little stands to be cute—and maybe you’ve even bought a cup or two—have you ever stopped to think about the business lessons you could learn from a kid with a lemonade stand?
These little entrepreneurs are made of the toughest stuff in business. While other businesses are worrying about exit strategies and looking for cash from venture capitalists, the kid with the lemonade stand is already turning a profit. She is out there walking the walk, while “bigger,” more “serious” people are just talking the talk. She is making a profit, and she has a few things to teach you. Here are four lessons learned from the kid with the lemonade stand.
1. She Is Small. Even though some small businesses feel that their size puts them behind the rest of the race, a kid with a stand knows differently. She is one person (or two, as the case may be). She is the boss and the employee, and she knows that being small means she can make quick decisions, changes, and expansions. Where larger organizations might be slowed by committee decision-making, a kid with a lemonade stand has very few people to answer to. Are your decisions happening quickly or are they getting stuck in committee?
2. She Knows Good Conditions. Nearly everyone has heard the old real estate adage about “location, location, location,” but there is one thing more important than location: condition. A kid with a lemonade stand knows that nobody wants ice-cold lemonade if the temperature is below freezing. Instead, she waits until the burning heat of summer to set up shop to give the people what they want. Are you offering the right services for the current conditions?
3. She Can Innovate. Lemonade is a tasty beverage, but what if lemonade isn’t selling? Perhaps a slice of orange in the pitcher will help. A kid running a lemonade stand isn’t afraid to make changes. She knows she isn’t held back by thoughts of “that’s how we’ve always done it.” She is ready to add some sugar, slice some oranges, or even brew some iced tea. Are the services and products you are selling perfect for your market, or could they use a slice of orange?
4. She Is a Specialist. Starbucks started out selling limited flavors of coffee. Even today they specialize in coffees and items that go along well with coffee. A kid with a lemonade stand knows that she has limited resources and focuses them on selling lemonade. She doesn’t try to sell sandwiches or car stereos; she just focuses on lemonade, making it the best she can. Are you a specialist, selling the best product you can? Or are you trying to spread your limited resources too thin, trying to do too much?
One afternoon I saw a kid walking down the sidewalk with a little cart. She would go to the front door of each house and ring the bell. She would talk to the person, and something was exchanged, but I couldn’t see what. As she came closer I saw she was giving cups to some of the people. When she came to my house I realized that this brilliant little kid was selling lemonade door-to-door. She had innovated beyond the lemonade stand and had a lemonade delivery service! When I saw this, I bought her entire pitcher for $30.
Perhaps $30 is expensive for lemonade, but it is dirt-cheap for a valuable business lesson. How much is your lemonade worth?
What other small business lessons have you learned from the kid with a lemonade stand? Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.
This post is by Curt Moreno and originally appeared on the blog Line//Shape//Space, an Autodesk blog dedicated to inspiring small businesses in the architecture, design, and drafting space.
Client relationship management is essential to small-business success. Running a small business doesn’t begin and end with making one sale, which is why owners have to learn how to keep customers coming back if they want to thrive in a competitive market. Here are five tips to help improve your brand and keep customers coming back for more.
1. Tell a Story. Customers like to feel connected to a company, even if they never meet the owner and make purchases only online. If you don’t already have a section on your website explaining the history and mission of your company, start by adding a few blurbs about your business.
Don’t be afraid to add in a few personal details. Depending on the type of business you run, leave behind stiff corporate talk and opt for a casual tone. Did you first have the idea for your company when you were a freshman in college? Have you and your siblings been running a small family business for years? Let customers know.
If you don’t think you have an interesting story to tell, start by writing down why you got into business, the company values you adhere to, and why you’re passionate about the work you do. The more your clients know, the more of an emotional connection they will feel, leading to the development of customer loyalty.
2. Stay True to Your Word. When starting a small business and trying to establish a strong reputation, think of what kinds of companies you like to work with most. Chances are, the businesses you have in mind communicate effectively and deliver on their promises.
Telling clients they can expect a service to be delivered within 24 hours is great, but only when an owner can truly accommodate this request. Rather than stretching the truth to drive more business, only make promises you can keep.
When working with small businesses that offer unique services with limited resources, clients are especially understanding. However, no one likes to be lied to, so be honest, and never treat guarantees as negotiable.
3. Use Social Media Wisely. Keeping up communication with customers is easier than ever with so many social-media sites at a business owner’s disposal.
By tweeting or posting to Facebook on a regular basis, clients will be the first to know about new designs and services, and their positive experience with you will always be fresh in their minds. There’s no need to get carried away, though—sending out multiple links a day and constantly e-mailing customers often backfires and can lead to resentment.
According to a 2012 study commissioned by PitneyBowes, spamming customers can have dire effects on a business. The report found 83 percent of consumers have been annoyed by a company’s social-media practices, and that 65 percent of respondents said they would stop using a company if its social-media behavior annoyed them.
Don’t turn off customers—develop a social-media marketing strategy that’s focused on quality over quantity, and don’t go overboard with posting.
4. Personalize the Experience. No one enjoys being treated like a number, and even though in-person communication may not be the priority for many businesses, customer satisfaction is still of the utmost importance.
One way to make sure a customer is happy is to personalize their experience with your business. If a client is trying to decide between a few services, give them more than just the basic information: Ask them questions about their personal needs, and individualize the experience toward them. Customers can tell right away whether or not a salesperson or designer is really listening to them, and whether they’re getting sincere advice on making a purchase.
Treat each customer like an individual, and do your best to cater to his or her needs.
5. Take Pride in Business Practices. If a small-business owner wants to increase revenues, it’s imperative that they meet client expectations and take pride in their company. That may mean investing in website or office design, but most importantly, business owners should never sacrifice quality just to save costs.
If delivering a quality experience means investing in sophisticated building-design tools or spending more time on each individual design, then that’s what an owner has to do. It may be expensive up front, but those investments will pay off with years of loyalty from clients.
If you’re tempted to take shortcuts or send out a design knowing that something’s wrong with it, remember that sites like Yelp and Epinions exist for a reason. If you deliver a shoddy product design or ignore the needs of a customer, it would be safe to bet that there may soon be a negative review about your company living on the Internet for years to come.
Remember why you got into business in the first place, and take pride in what you’re sending out into the world. Regularly remind employees of the seriousness of quality and service, and customers are bound to work with you again.
Have you found success in bringing in repeat customers? How do you make sure every customer is getting great service? Let us know is the comments below.
This post is by Anne Bouleanu and originally appeared on the blog Line//Shape//Space, an Autodesk blog dedicated to inspiring small businesses in the architecture, design, and drafting space.
In need of a handy illustration for clients about the economic and environmental benefits of residential landscape design? Or are you interested in learning about costs associated with landscaping and the resale value it will add to your home? Or are you just curious about how much money fabulously wealthy celebrities such as Wayne Newton (aka Mr. Las Vegas) put into landscaping their estates to accommodate for peacocks and dozens of other zoo animals? Whatever the case may be, make sure to check out Line//Shape//Space’s first-ever infographic on landscape architecture.
Do you have any cool stories to share about a landscape-design project? Do you have a success or disaster story? Make sure to share it in the comments section!
This post originally appeared on Line//Shape//Space, an Autodesk blog dedicated to inspiring small businesses in the architecture, design, and drafting space.