Quench Your Thirst and Launch a New Generation of Small-Business Owners

Author: Dan Danner, NFIB President and CEO Date: April 29, 2014

Want to make an important private equity investment? Then hand over a few coins to that neighborhood kid who is peddling lemonade down the street. That small gesture could ignite the spirit of free enterprise in one of tomorrow’s leading entrepreneurs.

As a small-business owner, you can fully appreciate the enthusiasm these youth have for creating an enterprise that rewards their labor. And the coins they accept with pride could assure their first steps on the path to the American Dream.

Our nation desperately needs new entrepreneurs and they need your support and guidance. One way to lend a hand is to take the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation’s “Lemonade Pledge” and commit to purchase a glass of lemonade from a budding entrepreneur this spring or summer. With this simple task, you can foster the traditional idea that many successful entrepreneurs first discovered their calling at a young age through a simple yet empowering enterprise such as a lemonade stand.

Today is both an exciting and yet somewhat uncertain time in the lives of a new generation of Americans. Generation Z, for example—those born in the late 1990s—has never lived in a world without the Internet. They’re often dismissed as a bunch of thumb-tappers whose main focus in life is to respond to the next smart-phone text.

But this generation, writes workplace expert Dan Schawbel in a recent Entrepreneur magazine article, “is poised to become the most entrepreneurial generation we’ve ever seen.” Research conducted by his company, Millennial Branding and, found that nearly three-quarters of high school students and about two-thirds of college students have desires to launch their own business.

Judging from the 2014 winners of the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards—all high school seniors who received between $1,000 and $15,000 educational scholarships for their entrepreneurial accomplishments—the entrepreneurial bug has already bitten Gen Zers. The top five recipients have launched small businesses in industries ranging from publishing and farming to equipment rental, jewelry design and photography.

Designed to raise awareness among youth about the critical role private enterprise and entrepreneurship plays in growing the nation’s economy, Young Entrepreneur Foundation has awarded more than 2,500 scholarships exceeding a total of $2.5 million to graduating high school seniors who use the funds to attend universities, colleges, community colleges or career institutes of their choice.

Similarly, the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation’s “Lemonade Pledge” is a great way to shape an America that reflects the entrepreneurial values of small business. When you pledge to buy that glass of lemonade from a youth in your community, you’re not just quenching your thirst but also whetting the appetite of future generations of small-business owners and contributing greatly to the expansion of America’s economy.

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About the Author

Dan Danner, NFIB President and CEO

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