Believe it or not, one of the best how-to books written for kids who want to start a business is not a how-to book. It's a novel! The Lemonade War, by Jaqueline Davies, follows brother and sister Evan and Jessie as they compete to earn the most lemonade money in the last days of summer. It's a fun read, and we highly recommend it, even for kids without business on their minds.
For kids who do want to start a business, The Lemonade War is a great source of information. Author Jacqueline Davies begins each chapter with the definition of a business term or concept. In this series of blog posts, we'll tell you how we've used lessons from The Lemonade War in our business ventures. We'll also tell you what worked, and what didn't.
In The Lemonade War, Evan and Jessie's first major competition was attracting customers to their lemonade stands. How did they do this? They advertised!
Jessie and Evan each made posters, but Jessie's poster (below left) is much different than her brother's (below right):
Which lemonade stand would you buy from? Probably Jessie's.
Why is her poster so much better than Evan's? First, Jessie knew who her customers were: Small kids who would want lemonade on a hot summer day, and their moms, who would pay. Small kids would no
doubt prefer a poster with pretty decorations to Evan's plain one. So she made sure her poster was eye-catching. Second, she made sure her poster was professional (to attract the moms): Unlike Evan, Jessie spelled "lemonade" correctly.
When we wanted to advertise our business, we asked ourselves two questions.
1. Who are our customers?
2. What could we do to attract them?
There are many different ways to advertise.
Balloon Zoom's main customers are families with children (think birthday parties!) and businesses with young customers who would enjoy seeing our cheerful balloon decorations.
To find family customers, we decided to:
1. Hand-deliver balloon samples and business cards to neighborhood homes with kids.
2. Model our glitter tattoos, hair feathers and hair tinsel at school.
3. Wear business t-shirts to school and neighborhood events.
4. Donate products (hair tinsel, hair feathers, balloon bouquets) to our school auction.
5. Ask moms who hired us to put our business cards in their guests' goody bags.
To find business customers, we decided to hand-deliver business proposals and sample balloon sculptures to business owners. (We'll show you how to write a business proposal in another post.)
Advertising does not have to cost a lot of money. Our business cards, for example, cost only $10 on www.Vistaprint.com, and hand-delivering letters to local business owners was free. The most important thing in advertising: Be creative!