When life gives you lemonade

Originally published August 2007 in the Dickinson County News

I have a personal rule to never pass a lemonade stand without buying a cup of lemonade.

I would have even probably gone out of my way to help out the money hungry competitors on Donald Trump’s new reality show “The Apprentice,” where the first challenge in getting a high-paying Wall Street job was to set up a lemonade stand in downtown New York.

The show brought a laugh as I watched a flock of grown people trying to make some dough on lemonade.

I also smiled at watching what other people do when life gives them lemonade.

Personally, I just can’t pass up a lemonade stand.

You might guess that young entrepreneurs in the Iowa Great Lakes area have already made quite a bit of money off me.

You might also assume that I’ve made a few sour faces in my ventures.

But I’m happy to buy sour lemonade – it’s all about a deeper cause.

You can always tell the true young entrepreneurs by the taste of their lemonade. Sure, most of these youngsters have made their own signs, set up a booth and solicited the help of some reluctant adult to help them with the lemonade preparations. You see, making lemonade is a tricky science – lemonade often turns out too sweet or too sour or too strong or not strong enough. Even adults seasoned in the art of lemonade making have messed it up a few times in their lives.

So, how do you tell a true young entrepreneur just by the taste of their lemonade? It’s missing the taste of adult help. Sometimes you can taste that the sugar has been left out.

Sometimes, the lemonade is so weak that you almost think you’re drinking water. And sometimes, you get a cup of lemonade that contains almost a cup of sugar in itself.

Technically, it’s bad lemonade. But to me, it’s the best lemonade there is. I once visited a “Lemnaid” stand three times for some over-sugared lemonade. Those sweet little kids were thrilled.

Now don’t get all upset if you’re one of those parents who helps their kids make the lemonade. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea for parents to help. If I were a parent, I might be a little nervous about letting a couple five year olds loose in my kitchen.

I’m only pointing out that I find it admirable to run into a child that has taken the initiative to put together a stand and make the lemonade on their own. I value that entrepreneurial spirit, and I patronize those with that spirit as often as possible.

Of course, it’s not just the youngsters with lemonade. It’s admirable to find recent college graduates opening their own businesses. And it’s just as wonderful to see a middle-aged man making his dream of owning a business come true.

In this area, there is such a wealth of entrepreneurial spirit. It’s obvious just by looking at the number of new businesses each summer. We keep expanding our marketplace, and that can only be credited to our area entrepreneurs.

I’d venture to say that some of these grown-up Lakes Area go-getters were once sitting along a busy street themselves, with a sign that read “Lemnaid.”

They probably had quite a few sour-faced customers too.

Those brave customers fed their entrepreneurial spirit.

And it’s that spirit that makes an area taste so good.