Budding Ottumwa Entrepreneurs Make Opportunity from Lemons

Budding Ottumwa Entrepreneurs Make Opportunity from Lemons Main Photo

6 Aug 2021


Experienced business owners typically look for unique ways to reach new customers, knowing their ability to sell their products will increase exponentially. Sixth-grader Joey Naumann learned first hand running his lemonade stand during the recent Ottumwa Lemonade Day.

“I offered a free cup of lemonade to a boy if he would pop a wheelie on his bike,” he said. “He did, so I gave him the free cup. But he came back later with a friend and paid for more!”

That result is one desired lesson of the national organization Lemonade Day, which has brought its entrepreneurial program to over a million youth across North America. Lemonade Day itself is a free program intended to teach youth in third- to fifth-grade how to start, own and operate a lemonade stand business. Each child receives information to teach them entrepreneurship skills like creating budgets, setting profit-making goals, serving customers, repaying investors and giving back to the community. The kids keep the funds they earn but are encouraged to spend, save and share their profits.

Kids ran about a dozen stands in the Ottumwa area for a few hours in mid-May. Joey Naumann, entering sixth-grade in Ottumwa next fall, partnered with the local South Ottumwa Savings Bank to set up his stand outside their office, with balloons they donated. Despite being a little nervous at the beginning of the stand day itself, Naumann said he really enjoyed the experience.

“There was a lot of pretty hard work before the day, with so many steps like creating a plan, setting up the stand and so on,” he said. “But seeing all the smiling faces, happy with the lemonade I gave them, was very rewarding.”

After spending $31 on supplies, his profits for the stand exceeded $70, of which he saved some, bought and donated cat food to a local shelter and bought a few packs of Pokemon cards. 

Business Genes

Lemonade standPaul Katsion is a Registered Representative & Insurance Agent with New York Life in southeast Iowa. Katsion was the Ottumwa Lemonade Day chairperson, also affectionately referred to as the “Lemon Head.” As a small business owner himself, Katsion knows the entrepreneurial spirit exists in a person regardless of age.

“Some people just have that gene to make a business out of an idea,” he said. “Lemonade Day is an excellent opportunity to identify students who could be the next entrepreneurs in Ottumwa and Wapello County.”

While the event is intended to stimulate budding entrepreneurial spirits in youth, the goal is also for the kids to understand there’s more to running a business than the hours operating the stand. Young people never forget the lessons they learn and Lemonade Day can help fan those flames, said Katsion

“The tasks of making goals and inviting people is more of an introduction to forming a business plan,” he said. “Regardless of their future level of education, they begin to understand how to bring the skills they have back to their communities.”

Future Entrepreneurs

While the event in Ottumwa was the first and only Lemonade Day in Iowa, Katsion said the national organizers do an excellent job generating the content needed to run the event.

“Any other city in Iowa interested in their own event just needs a few local folks willing to put in the time,” he said. 

Naumann said, while he would definitely participate in Lemonade Day again, he does not plan to just wait for it to come along again next year.

“Becoming a business owner in something like book publishing is now a very high priority for me,” he said. “Right after becoming an animator or army soldier!”