Attracting Investors: Lessons from a Lemonade Stand

Isabella & Co.

My eight-year-old recently ventured into the corporate arena and set up her very first lemonade stand. This was not just any lemonade stand, and if you know Isabella you’ll agree she is not a typical eight-year-old...

A few weeks ago Isabella decided she wanted to have a lemonade stand. The first step in her strategic planning was to pick a location. “Mom, in front of our house will not work. We don’t have enough people walking by. How about in front of Patachou?” (cozy neighborhood breakfast joint). Immediately she began to talk about her venture with all the neighbors. And the buzz started. Our favorite neighbor Miss Shelly listened to Isabella dream and plan; she was soon swept into the vision by Isabella’s vulnerability and passion. She offered to make her famous chocolate chip cookies for the sale, gratis. Isabella was of course delighted; someone else was taking part in her vision. Isabella had that critical first investor.

That evening Isabella was working away at a note in her room. It was to Miss Shelly. “Thank you so much for helping with my lemonade stand. Your cookies are going to make this so special.” Isabella was already expressing gratitude even before the investment round closed. Her investor loved the deal even more as a result.

When the big day finally came Miss Shelly dropped off a huge basket full of individually wrapped cookies tied up with a ribbon. They were darling and delicious! Not only did Miss Shelly walk with us to the location Isabella picked, she had even made a few calls to neighbors about the event. Isabella had recruited a few other friends to help her at her stand, so they set up shop and the sale began.

The first customers came because they were genuinely thirsty. They had just finished a race nearby and there was no water for the runners. The lemonade stand was the perfect answer for them. Then something wonderful happened – the kiddos looked up and their corner was packed. Friends and family came and supported their endeavor. Thirst had nothing to do with it. It was because they loved these children. Word quickly spread through the market – sorry, the neighborhood – and we had Patachou customers stopping by just to see what was going on. We ran out of cookies after just an hour and exhausted our lemonade inventory shortly after.

Later that afternoon Isabella picked out the perfect gift for Miss Shelly to thank her. Again, gratitude shown for the investors. She took it over and they chatted all about the morning. Isabella came back with a huge grin. “Mom, Miss Shelly said to let her know when my next lemonade stand is so she can make more cookies.”

Isabella not only had an angel for her venture. She had cultivated an advocate.

Like Isabella, most entrepreneurs have great vision, much passion and high hopes for their dream. With a little gratitude thrown in, their angels just might contribute their cookies for multiple rounds.