From lemonade stand to full-blown entrepreneur: How this Colorado kid got started in business

·4 min read
Quinn Davis founded QuinnHarley Calm Creations when she was 9 years old, selling rice packs that can be heated or frozen to soothe aching muscles.
Quinn Davis founded QuinnHarley Calm Creations when she was 9 years old, selling rice packs that can be heated or frozen to soothe aching muscles.

Last summer, Quinn Davis, then 9 years old, operated lemonade stands in her hometown of Aurora, Colorado. She was successful, but wound up feeling frustrated. She wanted to make more money, and she had issues with just selling lemonade. She thought there had to be a better way. Like a surprising number of kids today, Davis wanted to own her own small business.

“With a lemonade stand, during the week some people don’t buy,” said Davis. “It’s hard to get all the stuff. And a ton of people do lemonade stands.” This budding young entrepreneur didn’t realize she was actually doing a fairly sophisticated business analysis: looking at customer purchasing patterns, examining operational challenges and checking out the competition.

Afterward, she said to herself, “An easier way would be to do business online. If it’s organized like a business, I’d make more money.”

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That’s when Davis decided to launch her own business. Her product? Fabric rice packs that can be used either hot or cold to soothe aching muscles. She sews the fabric herself and sells her packs online and at crafts fairs. Her business? QuinnHarley Calm Creations, which you can now find on Instagram.

It’s not surprising Davis wanted to start a business. After all, entrepreneurs are now admired role models. Young girls like Davis have plenty of successful female startup founders to inspire them.

How parents can help

Parents can provide critical support for aspiring kid and teen entrepreneurs, just as Davis’ mom did for her. “My mom helps me market a bit. At the beginning, she was doing small parts of social media. Now she’s taught me how to post, how to comment.” Her mom has also started a Venmo account for her to separate out her own receipts.

Increasingly, young entrepreneurs can find local support for their aspirations. Davis signed up to compete for a grant from GuppyTank, which is like "SharkTank" for kids. She won, receiving not only a $500 grant, but a one-on-one mentor – Mikki – who works with her on marketing and planning a website. She’s used about half the money so far – to register for a craft fair, to get a logo.

What has Davis done with the money she’s raised so far? “I kept asking for a puppy, and my parents said if I paid a certain percent of the cost and took care of him, I could get one.” She’s raised enough so that she just got her new puppy – a French bulldog named Blue.

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Quinn's tips for other kids

After being in business for more than six months, Davis came up with her own list of advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs:

1. Keep track of your orders. "For example I use my notes app, and I use emoji’s to track if I sewed the order, packaged the order, etc.," she says.

2. Stockpile product. "Have enough items already made before you start your business or you may run out of your products fast," she advises.

3. Don’t be scared if after a few months, your business slows down. "Mine has slowed down a ton from when I started," she shared.  "Just keep posting and people will keep ordering from the new things you post."

4. Don’t just sell online. "I do craft fairs," she says. "I sell at baseball games. Me and my friend (put out) stands in our neighborhood to sell our products."

5. If you have any more ideas for your business, try and work them out and add to your business. "You don’t want your business to be boring," she adds.

6. Ask for assistance. "If you need help, ask people you think could help. My mom helps me cut fabric sometimes and more," Davis says.

7. Don't bite off more than you can chew. "Don’t plan to do so much that you can’t fulfill your orders or else no one will order from you again," she warns.

8. Show your customers you appreciate them. "I have tags, thank-you cards, and thank-you bags to add more fun to selling," she says.

9. Carve out your own workspace at home. "Have a place or room to work because it is a lot easier to have your own work space and stuff set out how you want it," she notes.

10. Add hashtags to your social media posts. "When you post, put hashtags in the comments," she advises.. "For example, if people search '#kidsbusiness,' '#kidentrepreneur,' or '#smallbusiness' in the search, your posts willcome up with yours because those hashtags were used in your posts."

Full steam ahead

“It just seemed like it would be fun to have my own business,” said Davis. And she wasn’t disappointed. She not only likes making money, but it keeps her from being bored. “I like the business, and I think it’s going to be going for a lot longer.”

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Rhonda Abrams is a small-business expert and a “Top 30 Global Guru” for startups. Her book "Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies" was named one of the 100 best business strategy books of all time. Connect with Rhonda at facebook.com/RhondaAbramsSmallBusiness; Instagram and Twitter @RhondaAbrams. Register for Rhonda’s free small business newsletter at www.RhondaAbrams.com/subscribe.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How a Colorado kid went from lemonade stand to small businesswoman