What Your Startup Can Learn From A Lemonade Stand

Ahmaris Lemonade Stand CC Lemonade Day What Your Startup Can Learn From A Lemonade StandDuring my first visit to Brazil a friend told me the lemonade stand was the quintessential American icon. We’re natural entrepreneurs, he observed, and we start our kids on the path to small business ownership at a very early age.

I’d never thought the lemonade stand was unique or special until then moment, but cold glass of lemonade on a hot day is as refreshing for the buyer as it is educational for seller. If you go to market with something people need, they will buy it.

Somewhere between the lemonade stand and the Series A, a lot of smart entrepreneurs seem to forget what drives our economy; demand. People buy things when they need them. If you’re there to satisfy the need, you will win.

Lately it seems the desire to be a founder has overtaken the entrepreneurial imperative, as shows like Shark Tank popularize startups. Described recently as American Idol for entrepreneurs, Shark Tank obscures the fact that starting a business is about creating value by solving problems–even when they’re not sexy. You have to people in some way they can’t help themselves. Most of time it’s not glamorous, but it’s necessary.

Narrated by Bridgewater Associates founder Roy Dalio, “How The Economic Machine Works,”provides a comprehensive, high-level view of how capitalist economies function, including the effect of credit and debt cycles.

When I started watching, it seemed like a foreign language lesson in a time when so many Silicon Valley companies are driven by hype and the seductive allure of disruption. thought it was worth sharing because it this is creative storytelling at it’s finest. Animation was supervised by the remarkably talented Jonathan Jarvis.

My first thought when I began watching this video is that startups often forget we’re part of the economy. Disruption is not the same as creating value, even when it changes behavior. Disruption is being able to deliver lemonade to people on a construction site, and charge the same price as your competitors with a fixed location.

We see “the market” as customer, when it’s really each individual customer making his or her unique purchase that makes a market. Each one of these transactions is driven by a few fundamental human needs. Your startup should be no different than a lemonade stand. Customers are thirsty. Serve them a tall, cold glass with a smile.

Technology is shiny, cool and exciting. But human needs are predictable and well-known. Give people what they need and you’ll always win.

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