5 'Lemonade Lessons' From 10-Year-Old Entrepreneur Vivienne Harr

Think like a kid and start with your heart

Make A StandMake A Stand founder Vivienne Harr

By Richard Feloni

Last week, 10-year-old entrepreneur Vivienne Harr stole the show at the National Small Business Week kickoff event at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. Harr, founder of the charitable lemonade company Make A Stand, shared her "lemonade lessons" with the crowd of small-business owners and advocates.

Harr was only 8 when she saw photographer Lisa Kristine's image of two young Nepalese brothers carrying heavy stones down a mountain. When she learned that these boys were slaves, she immediately decided that she wanted to end child slavery. So in May of 2012, she did what many kids do, and set up a lemonade stand near her home in Fairfax, California, except the money she earned didn't go towards candy and toys. She charged "Whatever's in your heart" and gave all proceeds to charities fighting for her cause.

As word got out about her mission, Harr continued to sit at her increasingly popular lemonade stand every day, and in December, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg invited her to sell her lemonade in Times Square. By the end of the day, she had raised $101,320.

She told her parents that she wasn't going to stop until child slavery no longer existed, and they decided to help her turn her cause into a real company called Make A Stand. Five percent of profits from every professionally produced bottle of fair-trade, organic "lemon-aid" goes toward the company's foundation, which works towards Harr's goal by funding organizations like Free The Slaves and UNICEF. The company says its foundation has raised over $25,000, and UPS recently announced it would donate $1 for every bottle sold through December, up to $10,000.

In January, Harr's father Eric quit his job to dedicate himself to her goal full-time, and he's now in talks with two major grocery chains for distribution rights.

We caught up with Harr to find out how she successfully started a business and rallied people around her cause (with a little help from her parents). She shares some of her "lemonade lessons" for entrepreneurs and small-business owners below.

1. "Thinking like a kid" can help you overcome setbacks.

"Kids don't see a lot of the obstacles in the world," Harr says. She thinks that more adults could benefit from the idealistic optimism that comes with being a child. Failure has never once crossed her mind as she and her family worked to turn a lemonade stand into a real company. And her dad said it's her unwavering optimism that inspired him to leave his job and work towards realizing her vision.

2. Social media provides a great way to build trust with your customers.

Leave it a 10-year-old to harness the power of social-media marketing. Harr's successful outreach to celebrities and activists on Twitter introduced her to a national audience. She says that social media provides her and her parents with a tool to reach out to customers, and that these interactions build trust because they show that her enthusiasm for the movement is genuine. When you've personally convinced people to support your company, they become brand ambassadors.

3. If you grow too fast, you can forget why you started.

Harr wants her business to become successful, but she doesn't want to let too many people join and turn it into just another big company.

She wants to keep her team small enough so that she still has influence over the overall direction of the company. She says every owner has a responsibility to his or her company to "keep it pure."

4. Giving back is a win-win situation.

Harr doesn't expect every business owner to dedicate so much of their business to charity the way she does, but she thinks that it's a great idea to give your company some charitable aspect. There's the good you're doing, and in practical terms, "it makes more people want your product," she says.

She thinks that the charitable business model compels more people to give to charities, and since buying these products makes people feel good, sustains itself.

5. You have a shot at success if you "start with your heart."

As a final piece of advice, Harr says that the only way entrepreneurs have a chance of being successful is if they start a business because they're following their passion.

She believes so strongly in Make A Stand that she wants to make her foundation her life's work. And she thinks she'll get her first major goal completed in just a couple decades. "I plan on ending child slavery by the time I'm 30," she says, "and then I'll find another cause."

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How can we get rid of the name Bloomberg forever. The little shrimp won't go away.

May 21 2014 at 12:58 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

They are producing a product, ("professionally produced bottle of fair-trade, organic "lemon-aid") and donating 5% of the profits from the sale of the product. You get to purchase and enjoy a bottle of organic lemon aid and 5% of the profits are donated to charity. You are not directly donating to the charity. I am not sure what the profit percentage is for Newman's Own, but the concept is similar.

May 20 2014 at 11:34 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

5% is better than nothing . I wonder how much taxes she had to pay. More than 5% I bet.

May 20 2014 at 7:14 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

FIVE percent of profits going to the foundation... So where does the other NINETY-FIVE percent go? - Hummmm, seems like things have taken quite a capitalistic turn to me. If you are going to have a "charitable business" that purports to MAKE A STAND against Childhood slavary, it seems to me the lion's share of the profit should go towards that charitble cause and not "elsewhere". - "Start with your heart" and STAY WITH WHAT YOU STARTED! (And Dallas, I majored in Business Management & minored in Economicsl. - So, I know how to do the math.)

May 20 2014 at 3:03 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dhward2's comment

well lets see now, the famous sponser a child foundation , 30.00 a month 7 cents on the dollar reaches a child. make a wish foundation ,income over 12 million a year once cost and salaries are taken in,actual money to the make a wish, 09. cent of each dollar. The box of candy at the checkout in restaurants,take a piece drop in coins,for cancer research ,or for feed the hungry children, a route is purchased boxes are sold and the charity actually gets 5 percent in donations, the owner of the route sells peppermint candies in that box ,average drop in box 25 cent for a penny piece of candy . the list goes on and on.

May 20 2014 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

5%? You can bet they're all collecting nice paychecks. And to the person who says 5% is a large amount......really? I have worked for non profits....5% is nothing.

May 20 2014 at 2:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to maskedblogger's comment
Hey Jude

If you want to check out charities and what % is used for fundraising, the actual program and what the administers make, go to charitynavigator.org You'd be surprised at how many charities put 60-80% into the actual program. These are the charities to support and watch out for charities who have similar names to the ones who are truthful.

May 20 2014 at 6:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

sounds like a scam to me. There are many large corps that give back as much or more. This just looks like a marketing ploy to me.

May 20 2014 at 2:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Does the state she sold this lemonaid in require a business license? If not then what she did was illegal. Ive seen other childrens lemonaid stands be torn down because of this and if she didnt and the state requires it, why isnt this brought to light when others have been torn down because of this issue?

May 20 2014 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You liberals whining about 5% going to charity have no idea how much overhead there is when you do something like this. If you worked
for a living instead of living off the government you would understand economics!
To those of you who give to charities like the ASPCA, well, they only actually use less than 2% towards the animals and the rest is used for offices, payroll, etc. They are one of the worst. This little girl doing this and giving 5% is quite an accomplishment and I applaud her for her work and generosity!
You crying , whining liberals need to get a life and quit depending on the government to feed and cloth you !

May 20 2014 at 2:28 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to dallas's comment

She made over $100,000 in one day. Let's suppose that was profit, although it probably wasn't. She would be giving $5,000 to her cause and $95,000 in her dad's pocket. No wonder he quit his job! Did she have a permit? Did she pay taxes? Is this legit? Sounds like dad found a way to make a fortune off his kid.

May 20 2014 at 2:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Good lord people, she needed an adult to help her with her full time business. They donate 5% of the proceeds because her father still has to support their family. This way he is able to still provide an income and push the charitable business along IF he is even using the money for that. This is also 5% of the *gross revenue* not the profits. They still have tons of overhead costs to pay for as well since they have to pay for the manufacturing of the lemonade, they do pamphlets, etc.

May 20 2014 at 1:21 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to valgaavmiko's comment

No. It clearly states 5% of the profits. I went back and looked because it seemed to me that was an awfully small donation for a product created for charity.

May 20 2014 at 1:55 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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