“When life gives you lemons, you don’t make lemonade. You use the seeds to plant a whole orchard – an entire franchise! Or you could just stay on the Destiny Bus and drink lemonade someone else has made, from a can.”
― Anthon St. Maarten
Let me tell you about two people who felt life gave them some lemons. One is making lemonade and the other built a lemonade stand! Which will you be?
Lolly worked all her life at one job doing everything right. She established a retirement account on her meager earnings and expected to retire at what has been called “normal retirement age” She achieved the American dream. Retirement and living the good life into the sunset. Only it didn’t work out that way. Medical bills and other unexpected expenses cut into her cash flow. She is careful with her money and she gets social security. Lolly is making the most of it. She is making her lemonade on her front porch. “It’s OK” she says. She wishes she had more but what are you going to do when you are on a fixed income. Good attitude but it’s too bad she isn’t building a lemonade stand.
Eddie is doing it differently. Eddie is 55 and has worked as a software programer for most of his life. At his age, he is a pioneer in the industry with a depth of knowledge few of us could expect to learn. Problem is no one wants to hire him. As he told me, “55 is ancient and over the hill in the software industry. Over 30 and your out. Eddie is facing reality. He also did everything right — went to college, earned a degree in a highly sought after field, was a good employee and kept current in his field. Still, reality really sucks. What is Eddie doing with his lemons? He is opening his own lemonade stand.
Eddie has way more knowledge than the rest of us when it comes to setting up websites. He knows SEO, mobile apps and all the rest of the jargon. This is a valuable commodity. People pay for this and they usually don’t know where to find someone. Now they do. They can find Eddie’s lemonade stand. By doing what he knows better than most, he can build his own website and get a following. He will have better security than the young whippersnappers getting the jobs because he isn’t going to get laid off or downsized. His lemonade stand will sustain him.
What do I mean by a lemonade stand? You’ve heard the adage “give a man a fish and he eats today, teach him how to fish and he eats forever”? This is a variation of that. We’ve all heard about making lemonade when life hands you lemons. Of course there is the variation that says find someone who was given vodka and have a party but that’s not the point here.
What I am talking about is being and ENTREPRENEUR! Gasp! Yes you. I bet you did it when you were a kid. Did you baby sit? Have a newspaper route? Sell something door to door? You were an entrepreneur. You might even have had a real lemonade stand. I know I did.
I grew up in a time, and most of you did too, I’m guessing, when the goal was a “good paying job”. You worked up “through the ranks”, and somewhere in your 60’s you were put out to pasture, ehr, retired. You got a pension and maybe a plaque. Did anyone actually get the proverbial gold watch?
Folks those days are gone. The old line companies are phasing out pensions and the new ones never had them. You are on your own buddy. The financial planners have been telling us this for years, but most of the boomers didn’t listen and now they are out there picking lemons.
So what does your lemonade stand look like? Mine? I made a huge mid life career change and went to law school in my 50’s. I pretty much believed the folks who told me no one would hire me at my age. But surprise, surprise! A well respected mid size firm in Orange County hired me. Wow, That felt good! Too bad I hated it. I won’t go into what a mind numbing experience it was but suffice to say the dress code almost did me in. Or was it the mandatory meetings on how to increase our billing? Not better work, just more billing. It was definitely time to build my own lemonade stand.
So I “hung out my shingle” as it used to be called. I had a lap top and a fax machine. I was in business. People actually paid me money for my legal skills. After a while I knew I had to find a specific focus for my practice. (We aren’t supposed to call it “specialize”) People kept coming to me with their divorce issues. Even though it was the furthest thing from my mind when I was a wide eyed new lawyer, I found that handling divorces was a pretty good lemonade stand for me. Eighteen years and thousands of cases later, I am still practicing — although it has grown to slightly more than a fax machine and a laptop.
So here is my challenge to you. Are you building your own lemonade stand? Maybe you currently have a job. You might even like it — or not. Start building that lemonade stand because you never know when the lemons might arrive.
Right now — write down three things someone might pay you for.
This is a random list that might jog your creative juices.
- Give speeches
- Bake cakes
- knit scarves
- travel the world and pick up interesting jewelry or gift items
- Write a book
- Teach people how to use Facebook
- Teach English to non native speakers
- Start your own community newspaper and sell advertising
- Design your own clothing line and sell it via kickstarter
- Sell other people’s stuff on eBay
- Ghost write blogs for other people
- Organize garages
Ok, this wasn’t a totally random list I made up. Each of those represents someone I know who is making money at their own lemonade stand doing just that thing. Good money? Some are, some are not. Depends on the effort and creativity they put into their lemonade stand. Not only are they making money, they feel good about being creative and useful. No out to pasture for them
And Lolly, the person whose story I opened with? We are still working on it. At least her eyes lit up when I gave her the suggestion. Stay tuned. I am sure there will be something fun to report about Lolly’s Lemonade Stand.
Make your list today. Get creative. I’m anxious to hear about your lemonade stand.