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Memphis Daily News
Swimming, Snow Cones and Entrepreneurship
June 15, 2015
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

A neighbor started giving swim lessons several days a week during the summer. Obviously, she is good at what she does. Her lessons bring daily traffic to a quiet side street that usually experiences mild traffic only twice a day – in the morning and evening.

It’s a pretty quiet street otherwise. I’m all for entrepreneurship, and it is good for children to learn to swim. It’s a needed service. She recognized a need and filled it, and, in addition, supplemented her teacher’s salary. Sounds like a win-win.

A few days ago, when I rode past the “swim house,” as I’ve dubbed it, I noticed a snow cone stand two doors down. A little girl, about 8 years old, had set up shop in her driveway. How enterprising of her to capture this newly found market of parents and their children, walking from their cars on a hot June day headed for swim lessons.

I am always ready to support newly minted entrepreneurs, so I stopped by her stand and purchased a snow cone for $1. There was only one flavor, blue. It had no specific taste, but the color was attractive and the ice cold. Since I appeared to be the only customer that day, I thought that perhaps more choices, or a homemade chocolate chip cookie, would increase traffic flow to her stand. But I just smiled and congratulated her on her new business.

If location is everything in opening a business, then this young business owner was spot on. The next day as I rode by her stand, I was pleasantly surprised to see about eight moms with their children, who had just finished their swim lessons, lined up to purchase the blue ice. Never underestimate the persuasive power of children when marketing your product.

Since this new business was as seasonal as the swim lessons, sustainability did not seem to be an issue to be considered. And obviously, the price point generated pure profit. It was a great short-term summer job and a lesson for life in the world of a business owner.

So what makes the difference between someone looking for a job and someone creating that job? It’s one factor: entrepreneurship. According to Wikipedia, “Entrepreneurship is the process of starting a business, a startup company or other organization. The entrepreneur develops a business plan, acquires the human and other required resources, and is fully responsible for its success or failure.”

It also requires risk-taking, a “can do” spirit and a lot of hard work. This growing culture of entrepreneurship is good for business, and a key factor is creating a thriving economy. The lessons learned of resourcefulness and channeling creative energy into ideas for business ventures can be taught and learned. It is a competitive edge in a global economy.

Perhaps next summer there will be another snow cone stand opening on the street, one that offers a variety of flavors and a cookie. Now that has the makings of another valuable lesson, competition.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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