Teach Your Kids to Take a Stand — A Lemonade Stand

Long before Beyoncé transformed it into a cultural touchpoint, lemonade was the commodity of choice for childhood business ventures. Perhaps you had a lemonade stand of your own, or maybe you just knew someone who did. Either way, the memories of ice-cold refreshment probably ride on a warm wave of nostalgia. If your enterprise was especially successful, you might even hear a faint “cha-ching” as you reminisce.

Fast forward a decade or two, and now you find yourself juggling the demands of family, friends, and career. Thanks to the latest technology, it’s easy to let your kids spend their summer vacation drifting along on a digital stream of Snapchat streaks and Fortnite marathons. With the dog days of summer approaching, you have a perfect opportunity to shake up your child’s summertime routine with a little old school entrepreneurship. It’s time to bring back the lemonade stand!

Let your kids in on the fun. When you were young, running a lemonade stand didn’t feel like a job—it felt like freedom. So, don’t worry that encouraging your children to work will somehow rob them of their summertime fun. The venture can be fun, and the lessons they learn from operating a small business can last a lifetime.

Goal setting

Believe it or not, this one comes pretty naturally to kids. If you ask them what they want to do with the money they earn, they’ll probably have at least one goal already in mind. It may be a video game, a bike, or new clothes, but whatever it is, their motivation won’t be hard to find. When they finally save up enough to buy what they want, the sense of accomplishment will be something you can build on for the rest of their life.

Entrepreneurship

Operating a lemonade stand is an excellent way to help your children learn that it costs money to create something. After all, lemons and sugar aren’t free. Understanding economic concepts like cost of goods and profit margins, will give your kids a valuable perspective with real-world applications. As they plan their drink prices, let them decide what to charge. Positive or negative, the lessons they learn from experience will help them with future budgeting.

Responsibility

Like many things in life, lemonade stands are super fun at the beginning! But after a few hours sitting in the sun or waiting out a thunderstorm, there’s a pretty good chance your little entrepreneur will want to close up shop. While it may be frustrating (for you and them), this scenario provides an excellent opportunity to teach them that you can’t just walk away when you get bored. And let’s be honest, we can all use this reminder from time to time, can’t we?

Creativity

Challenge your child to think about how to separate themselves from their competition. (Of course, this may be hypothetical competition since modern-day lemonade stands are probably few and far between). Depending upon their age, your little one may focus on colorful sign design at first. This focus is understandable, since making the sign is half the fun. But beyond that, feel free to offer creative suggestions. Could they provide a sugar-free alternative? Maybe offer an iced coffee alternative to appeal to more customers? How about spreading the word with a social media post? Should they accept payment through Venmo or PayPal, or just keep it cash only? Like a child’s imagination, the options are limitless. So is the fun!

At this point, you may feel like opening up a lemonade stand whether your kids are interested or not! Channel that excitement and energy into helping them see the fun-filled potential of the idea, and don’t be afraid to get in there and help them when they need it. The time spent together will be even more valuable than the money earned and the lessons learned.

Happy summer lemonading!

Down to Business: Grow Your Seasonal Business

family-freezed-ice-cream-bicycle-icicle-tricycles-ice-cream-cart-006-e1446849683144-632x597Let’s talk about seasonal businesses for a moment. If you take a drive south on Route 35 from Point Pleasant Beach through Seaside Heights, you’ll see in high definition the impact of a season.  In a matter of one month, the Jersey Shore will turn from an eerie ghost town into a bustling, crowded resort.  Blinking lights turn to stoplights, and you actually have to pay the parking meter – that is, if you can find a spot.  Lifeguards are on duty, you have to pay to walk on the beach, you can only surf in a roped-off, one block area and fishing is restricted to off hours – ay yi yi!

Seasons can be almost anything: there is football season, car buying season, rainy season, hockey season, dry season, holiday season, boating season, fluke season, hunting season, tax season, hurricane season, Lent is a season…we could go on and on and on.  What further complicates this idea is geography.  Different seasons begin and end on different dates all over the world.  How do you keep track, let alone run a business within a season?

The most successful entrepreneurs are able to support two alternating seasons, but can you?  For example, a man runs a successful parasailing business on the Jersey Shore from May-August, but Puerto Rico’s tourism season runs from October-March, so the parasailing operator sets up shop down in the Caribbean – while old man winter has the northeast in a deep freeze.  Similarly, the landscaper from March-October equips his trucks with snow removal gear for November-February, it’s a win-win.  The key is finding balance to turn the off season into a busy season.

These ideal, perfectly balanced business models are very difficult to find, especially for a new entrepreneur.  If you are a new business starting out, or even an existing seasonal business searching for balance, First Financial is here to help!  Our Business Accounts do not have a minimum balance or monthly fees, so when you are carrying thinner balances during the slower months, you won’t have to pay for it.  You can spend less time worrying about bank fees and more time searching for that winter gig to compliment your seasonal summer business! Let us help you expand and get your off-season business plan in tact – contact Matthew Brazinski at mbrazinski@firstffcu.com or call 732-312-1421, or contact Lisa Weltner at lweltner@firstffcu.com or call 732-312-1426 today.

Down to Business: Remember Way Back When…

business man hand use mobile phone streaming virtual business ne

Remember way back when, what life was like before the advent of the Smartphone just 20 short years ago? Do you remember waking up to the voices on an alarm clock radio? You just knew that today was going to be a good day when that song happened to be playing when you woke up!  Speaking of clocks, do you remember when people actually forgot to manually turn their clocks back and arrived an hour late?! Getting lost was both fun and a great excuse for being late, is it even possible to get lost in 2015?

I could go on and on, and I will!  Dating is so easy now, you can just Google your date and find out where they live, where they work, who their friends are, if they’ve been arrested, if they owe anyone money, plus no one can lie about their age anymore!  Remember when researching a topic meant reading chapters of books or encyclopedias written by legitimate experts who had spent most of their life devoted to that subject? Now we have comments, blogs (can you even cite those??) and news articles that we see on the internet – because obviously if you see it on the internet it must be true.

The mobile phone has had quite an impact on the business world as well.  Consider the near extinction of camera stores, watch manufacturers, movie rentals, record stores, print media, and book stores to name a few.  Travel agencies are the new pay phones and the USPS is the new UPS.

You can earn a master’s degree, find a job, work that job, grocery shop, even get married, and raise virtual children right from your couch.  In 2015 thanks to your mobile phone, you can conceivably live your entire life without ever seeing the light of day.  The mobile internet certainly has changed the world as we know it!

In the Business Development department at First Financial Federal Credit Union, we use mobile internet banking to make doing business with us extremely easy.  We are literally a call, click, or text message away – providing personalized attention to each and every business member.  To help save time and money, we offer the latest in mobile technologies, and we have no monthly maintenance fees.  Getting started with a business account at First Financial is also extremely easy. If you are thinking of starting a business or are tired of the fees on your existing business account, contact Matthew Brazinski at mbrazinski@firstffcu.com or call 732-312-1421, or contact Lisa Weltner at lweltner@firstffcu.com or call 732-312-1426 today.

 

Down to Business: Trending Businesses – Do you have or plan to start one of these?

ice_cream_cone_strawberry“After crossfit I’m going to uber to fro yo, do you want anything?”

Just a few years ago this statement would have made absolutely no sense, but thanks to several fast-track trending business ideas, vocabulary is born!  Let’s briefly examine some of the pros and cons of today’s top trending businesses.

Boutique gyms/CrossFit is the new craze in the fitness world.  The smaller setting combined with intense group workout, adds a social aspect to the traditional gym setting.  On the business side, start-up costs are minimal.  The average CrossFit franchise takes less than $50,000 to open and is usually profitable within the first year.  The CrossFit name is licensed to 7,000 gyms for an annual fee of $3,000!  Don’t quit your day job just yet; medical research surrounding the intense alternative workout craze is infant at best, and many new studies reveal that these workouts may not be as beneficial to your body as you think.

If you can find a taxi across town it will most likely run you $27 plus tip.  An Uber driver can pick you up on your schedule for $20 – tip included.  This sounds like a great idea right? Well … maybe not. Ask yourself, does the driver have insurance? Does his/her insurance cover using a personal vehicle as a commercial taxi? Has he/she passed a criminal background check or drug test?  Has he/she completed a driving skills assessment?  These are just some of the requirements that registered taxi drivers are required to pass before picking you up, making that extra $7 and 10 minutes not sound so bad!taxi

Self serve frozen yogurt shops with very creative names are seemingly opening on every corner lately too.  Health conscious consumers are attracted to the portion control and healthier yogurt options,  add in dozens of popular flavors and even more toppings – and you have a successful trend.  Market research has not yet found any major flaws in this industry.  Heavy market saturation has forced a few stores out of business, but overall sales are trending VERY well!  Before starting that franchise however, be sure to check out the past 40 years of market trends in the industry.  There was a frozen yogurt boom in the 80’s that fell hard in the mid 90’s spearheaded by TCBY, and who could forget Humfreeze Yogart?!

Each of these industries born or reborn in the last 10 years, may not make it another 10 – so if you are an entrepreneur, always err on the side of caution and really do your research.

If you are looking for stable help to grow and sustain your business, look no further than First Financial Federal Credit Union.  We have been helping businesses grow since 1936 and we plan to continue this trend by providing the best value in the industry for our business members. 

For more information about any of First Financial’s business accounts and services, contact Business Development at business@firstffcu.com, call 732.312.1421 or simply leave a comment below.

Article Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/in-the-cross-hairs-of-crossfit-local-businesses-find-niche-in-fitness-craze/2014/01/17/28e368b2-7c95-11e3-93c1-0e888170b723_story.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-simmons/why-i-dont-do-crossfit_b_5411771.html

https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/TaxiDriver.aspx

 http://smallbusiness.chron.com/potential-market-growth-frozen-yogurt-77121.html

Down to Business: Merchant Services

Merchant-Services-Product-Page-Photo

A professional on his lunch break walks down to a local eatery and enjoys a turkey club with avocado lime spread and a crisp dill pickle spear on the side. For twenty minutes out of his busy day he is calm, and he can already feel the tired 2 o’clock feeling coming on. He reaches for his credit card, swipes and in an instant his tab is settled. Let’s focus on that instant… blip… that instant when funds are transferred from consumer to merchant.

To break it down; the customer swipes his card through the terminal to pay $10.00 for his lunch. The terminal reads who the customer is and contacts the bank that issued the card. The bank at this point, must make a decision on whether or not to pay the merchant. Could the transaction be fraudulent? Are there funds available? Upon approval, the consumer’s bank sends $10.00 to the merchant’s bank, and then the bank deposits $9.80 into the merchant’s account. That $0.20 is sent back to the consumer’s bank and it is then split five times: with the issuing credit or debit card company at a predetermined rate, the issuing credit card brand (i.e. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, etc.), the processing company, then to an ISO selling the processing (if applicable), and finally, it is split for the last time if there is an independent contractor selling the processing for the ISO. We’re certainly not splitting the atom, but this is getting eerily close to nuclear fission.

At the end of each business day, all of the credits and fees are tallied by the processing company. After about 2 business days, the settlement is deposited into the merchant’s bank account. The processing fees are typically debited from the merchant’s account 3-5 days after the end of the month. Phew – that is quite the process! Why would a processing company go through all of this effort for pennies on the dollar… or sometimes fractions of a penny? Why would a business pay to have customers pay them?

Market trends and statistics provide an overwhelming answer to these questions.   According to Javelin Research, in 2011 only 27% of all in person sales were made with cash. According to the SEC in 2011 – $17,782,000,000,000.00 were spent using Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and Diners Club. When you start to take small percentages of nearly 18 trillion dollars, it becomes clear just how lucrative this business can be. For the business owner, according to Ari Shapiro of NPR, consumers purchase 40% more when they shop with a credit card vs. cash. Many interesting clinical psychological studies break down the why behind this.

So what does all of this mean for our small businesses? Well, with so many entities fighting for a slice of the dollar, the competition among merchant services providers is stiff. Given the dynamic nature of the industry, loyalty, transparency and honest hardworking member service are hard to find. Perform your due diligence and interview various clients to see just what kind of service is actually provided. A few minutes now will pay dividends later!

If you’re interesting in merchant services for your business, you’re in luck! First Financial has a new processor who provides great service and excellent rates. If you would like more information on merchant services or business products and services, contact Business Development Manager, Matthew Brazinski, at 732.312.1421 or simply leave a comment below! 

*Sources: Psychology Today, Nerd Wallet, Huffington Post, and Host Merchant Services.