Last year, a 9-year-old boy from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, set up a lemonade stand and got lots of customers. “They all took a sip of lemonade and either gave a thumbs-up or said it was really good!” he told TIME Edge. Even so, he didn’t want to share his name for this article, because he had found out that by operating a business without a permit, he’d broken a state law.
In most states, it’s illegal for kids to open a lemonade stand without first applying for a permit or license. These laws are meant to stop business owners from disregarding food-safety standards and local traffic rules. But applying for permits and licenses costs time and money.
The good news for young entrepreneurs is that in recent years, several states, including Texas and Iowa, have made it easier for kids to run lemonade stands. And more lawmakers are getting on board.
Passing a Bill
Pennsylvania is now supporting lemonade sales by kids. John Hershey is a state representative there. In February, he introduced a bill nicknamed Free the Lemonade Stand, which exempts kids from having to get a permit or license before starting most small, short-term businesses.
Hershey got the idea for the bill after reading about a family in Montgomery County, Maryland, that was threatened with a $500 fine for allowing kids to run a lemonade stand. Hershey didn’t want that to happen in his state. He says running a lemonade stand is an “opportunity that young kids should have.”
On June 30, Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania’s governor, signed Hershey’s bill into law.
Reaping the Rewards
There are many reasons for a kid to start a small business. These include raising money for charity and keeping busy during long summer days. Some kids simply want to pick up extra cash. Victoria Hanson, 11, is a former TIME Edge Kid Reporter. She lives in Chadds Ford Township, Pennsylvania. Victoria supports the new law in her state. “Children are not old enough to apply for jobs,” she says. “Selling lemonade is an easy way for kids to make money.”
Hershey says that kids who run a business learn valuable skills, such as marketing and bookkeeping. “The American dream is to want to build something for yourself,” he says. And this new lemonade-stand law “helps kids do that at an early age.”