Small business lessons from a lemonade stand

From left, Isabella, 10, Brooke, 8, and Evelyn Candan, 8, stir their lemonade at their booth at the Walk to End Alzheimer's at Bridgeport Park in Valencia on Saturday, October 04, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signa

It’s never too early to start learning how to run a successful business, right? Ahmet Candan, the father of three young girls, certainly doesn’t think so.

His daughters, Isabella, 10, Evelyn, 8, and Brooke, 8, are learning mathematical concepts in school, so he thought it would be the perfect time to start teaching them some basic business theory.

“Now that they’re in fifth and third grade, they’re learning enough that I can sort of teach them how to run a business and get them to grasp the basic concepts,” Ahmet said.

Using a lemonade stand as their business model for the “class,” Ahmet began trying to get the girls to understand the basics.

Toward the end of the summer, they thought to open a real lemonade stand and contacted their neighbors, the Oakmont of Valencia senior living community, asking if they would consider partnering with the girls.

From left, Brooke, 8, Isabella, 10, and Evelyn Candan, 8, sit at their lemonade stand at Oakmont of Valencia. Courtesy

After meeting the family, Oakmont staff worked to create a flier for residents and families, but other than providing them with that and a table, the girls set to work on the rest themselves.

“We got a lot of lemonade and iced tea,” Brooke said. “I liked how we just started a business and came up with a plan … I loved doing it.”

The girls set to work running the numbers, comparing the cost of buying one brand of product versus another to keep the costs low, even going as far as to calculate the cost per unit sold.

“They worked out this whole sheet,” Ahmet said. “They were able to calculate specifically how much each cup costs and figure out what the profit margin would be per unit sold.”

Isabella said she enjoyed the hands-on experience, which is how she learns best. “I learned a lot.”

Brooke agreed, adding that it was a great experience.

“The seniors were very nice, and I loved doing it,” Evelyn added.

From left, Brooke, 8, Isabella, 10, Ahmet and Evelyn Candan, 8, sample the iced tea at their booth at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Bridgeport Park in Valencia on Saturday, October 04, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

The girls took turns doing each job, learning how to handle money and practicing to count and give change.

When the Oakmont staff suggested they donate a portion of funds to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, it seemed to fit just right.

“My dad actually passed away with Alzheimer’s last March, so that’s something near and dear to us,” Ahmet said. “That worked out great for us.”

They made more than they thought, so although they were planning to donate 25%, they increased the donation. “Since we got a little bit more money, we actually donated 50% of the proceeds to Alzheimer’s,” Isabella said.

After donating the money, the girls were left with a little spending money, which they were excited about. “Then we have to pay our dad back,” Evelyn added.

From left, Brooke, 8, Isabella, 10, Evelyn Candan, 8, with executive director at Oakmont of Valencia, Margie Veis, second from right, at their lemonade stand at Oakmont of Valencia. Courtesy

Because of the success of their first event, the girls were then invited to set up their stand at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Santa Clarita on Oct. 5.

“This became such a wonderful intergenerational event where not only did our residents get to support the girls’ efforts, but we were also able to introduce them to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” said Margie Veis, executive director of Oakmont. “Isabella, Evelyn and Brooke are very special young ladies, and we were proud to support them.”

The girls again donated half their proceeds from the walk to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, and they were so successful that they were invited to join the foundation for their next walk at the L.A. Zoo in November.

“It went pretty well actually,” Brooke said. “The people were really nice, and my favorite part was donating part of our proceeds to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”

Though the goal was to learn about business, the girls said they were able to take away much more than that.

“It was not just about business, it was about making people happy,” Isabella said. “I saw a lot of smiles on people’s faces when they were talking and interacting with us, and that just made me feel happy.”

Ahmet was happy the girls got to actually put what they learned into practice, and said he was able to see them flourish.

“At first, they were really shy, but I pushed them to speak up and try and get people to come over (to the stand),” he said. “Eventually, they opened up and they were interacting very well with others. I think they were starting to come out of their shell — it was nice to see.”

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