Lemonade Day seeks 17,000 future tycoons

Louisiana will welcome an estimated 17,000 new small businesses on May 3.

Sure, they may only be in business for one day, but some believe that may be enough to energize the state’s future.

That Saturday marks the fourth annual Lemonade Day Louisiana, a day where sidewalks across Louisiana will be inundated with budding young entrepreneurs hawking their wares at homemade lemonade stands.

Some of the top names in Louisiana’s business community were on hand to show their support at the official statewide kickoff Tuesday at Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans.

For many, it brought back fond memories. In fact, both John Georges, CEO of Georges Enterprises and publisher and CEO of The Advocate, and Todd Graves, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers in Baton Rouge, had their first forays into the business world running lemonade stands.

Georges and Graves were responsible for bringing the national Lemonade Day program to Louisiana in 2010. Last year was the first year the progam expanded statewide.

More than 13,000 children participated.

To date Lemonade Day Louisiana 2014 has garnered the support of more than 26 corporate sponsors and 100 community partners.

Unlike the spur-of-the-moment lemonade stands of yesteryear, kids get to work long before the stands are assembled by completing an educational component.

Most young kids would have a hard time saying the phrase “capital equipment and consumables,” much less be able to tell you what they mean, but this will change after they work through the Lemonade Day materials.

Each child who registers — registration is free and now open online at www.louisiana.lemonadeday.org — will be given a backpack with an entrepreneur workbook, marketing tips and a caring adult guide.

The workbook introduces a wide range of concepts, from supply and demand and return on investment, to practical tips on how to set their stand apart from the crowd.

The budding entrepreneurs are also taught to “spend a little, save a little, share a little,” with encouragement to donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity.

“These things are just not taught to our kids in school, like music and art is,” said Dana Hansel, statewide director of Lemonade Day Louisiana 2014.

Among the speakers at the kickoff event were Lemonade Day Louisiana supporters Ashton Ryan, president and CEO of First NBC; Richard Zuschlag, chairman and CEO of Acadian Companies; Layne McDaniel, president and CEO of Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge Foundation; and Charles Rice, president and CEO of Entergy New Orleans.

Rice shared a story of an encounter with a young Lemonade Day participant he had last year that he’ll never forget.

“A young guy came up to me and introduced himself. He was probably about 8 years old, and he asked me for my card,” Rice laughed. “So I gave the young man my card and he read it — ‘President and CEO,’ he said. Then he looked up and said, ‘I’m going to be you one day.’

“And then he asked me to lunch.”