Who Will Buy Your $75 Lemon?

I have a serious Meyer lemon habit.

It started when I moved to LA and a dear friend got me hooked with a seasonal supply from his trees. After years in snowy Chicago (where Meyers are priced like precious jewels), there was something about being able to pick a lemon off your own tree that captured me.

So my husband surprised me with a trip to the garden center and—$75 later—we went home with a tree in bud and visions of it on our balcony, bursting with fruit.

I figured we might get 10 or 20 lemons (hardly the best financial decision), but wanted the romance of growing them myself.

A year later, I reaped one—yes one—lemon.

Now, it was a beautiful lemon (see above). And it was delicious. But it did make me ask the question: was it worth $75 for the experience? The answer for me was an unequivocal yes.

But what If I was in the lemon business? Is there anyone who would buy it from me (vs. the farmers market or grocery store) not to mention pay me anywhere near my investment? Hint: the going rate for Meyers here is about $1.

How about you? Are you working on a $75 lemon or are you asking the right questions before investing your precious time and money in building business?

Sometimes you go in, knowing it’s going to be a learning experience (new practice area anyone?). You’re prepared to spend some coin and you’ll survive if you lose your investment. You had some fun, gained some valuable experience and it’s (mostly) good, like the lemon tree.

But when it deeply matters to your business, you need a vision and a plan, not a wing and a prayer. Investing hundreds of hours in writing your book makes no financial sense if you haven’t built a market for it. Spending your time giving (not selling) speeches without a clear path to producing revenue is just wasted effort, although it might make you feel productively busy.

Take it from a failed lemon farmer. Figure out a way to produce your commodity for less and pocket some profit. Or—have waaaaay more fun creating an amazing new species that has folks clamoring for grafts of your trees.

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  • A few years ago, while in Cali, I got to taste an orange picked from a neighbors tree. It was the best piece of fruit I had ever eaten. It was like eating orange juice.

    You must have been proud though of that one lemon.

  • Oh, you are so right Steve! Cali natives are used to it, but for those of us from colder climes, nothing is fresher/sweeter than the produce here…

  • As usual Rochelle, you are making us look inside ourselves. We have to be able to take the bad with the good and do something to alter our course where necessary.



  • Hi Ed–thanks for the add! Guess we’re making lemonade 🙂

  • One of the interesting things about political affairs, politics and government involves what I call “good enough”. One might lack the time to get something just right; the external deadlines might be outside one’s control. As a result you might not get to perfect; alternatively, from another viewpoint, good enough becomes the new perfect.
    For some product, you need to wait for perfect; but in many cases good enough allows you to get the product out there; at the same time, you can improve (perfect) your product while put in use.

  • Thanks for the add Corey! Politics, government and lemons–quite the combo….

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