Let’s encourage lemonade stands, and entrepreneurs

Summer vacation brings time for childhood traditions like summer camps, family vacations, and camping in the outdoors. Another right of passage for many children is running a lemonade stand.

Learning never ends for children, no matter their environment. Operating a lemonade stand gives kids essential lessons in entrepreneurship, responsibility, the value of hard work, and unfortunately, the costs of over-regulation.

In far too many municipalities across the country, it’s actually illegal for a child to run a lemonade stand. Local governments require licenses or permits for irregular or temporary businesses run by minors. In recent years, we’ve even seen a number of stories about police officers being called to shut down 9-year old’s lemonade stands. Sometimes it’s neighborhood busybodies, sometimes it’s businesses that saw them as competition, but it’s always disappointing. It has become such a widespread occurrence that a lemonade company assembled a legal team to help children who have been threatened with fines from local governments enforcing permitting and licensing laws.

To put an end to this in Mississippi, Sen. Kevin Blackwell sponsored Senate Bill 2025, which would prohibit local governments from requiring a permit or license from a minor operating an occasional business—like a lemonade stand. The bill stresses the importance of entrepreneurship, a fair application of the law, and the learning experiences that these businesses provide children. Sixteen states have already passed a version of the lemonade stand bill.

The entrepreneurial spirit of Americans is central to our nation’s success. The willingness to take risks, to start your own company, or to sell a brand-new product is a trait as distinctly American as our pioneer spirit. Entrepreneurship offers people a path to a better life and has done so countless times in the past.

But we all benefit from entrepreneurship. It is through competition and the formation of new businesses that we continue to find new goods and services that better meet consumer needs. Some entrepreneurs create a new product through a technical or scientific breakthrough. Some discover new ways to meet consumer needs. Others create better ways of managing a business. These build over time, improving the standard of living for society.

So much of our children’s lives today are structured. But operating a lemonade stand on a warm summer day is a chance for kids to experiment and learn about entrepreneurship and running a business for themselves. The first time a thirsty passerby gives the young business owner a dollar and takes their cup of lemonade, their thank you provides an important lesson: finding ways to meet consumer needs will make both parties better off. We should remove roadblocks to encourage these life lessons at an early age to prepare the entrepreneurs of the future.

It may be a frosty January day today, but SB 2025 will help refresh us this summer and give our kids an opportunity to learn about businesses.