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Thursday, July 28, 2016

4 Entrepreneurship lessons learned by selling Girl Scout cookies

Learn to never give up and communicate effectively at an early age!

This is the season of buying Girl Scout cookies.  Think of the process of going door-to-door or standing outside buildings and selling those cookies.  It makes one wonder how many rejections and negative comments these young people hear on a regular basis.  It is hard for some potential customers to show enthusiasm toward the effort and be supportive, while others smile and pull out their wallet and buy. 


The process of selling is hard and requires some measure of skill.  Closing the deal is an art for some while others find the process difficult.  Excellent marketing of products helps.  In the case of the Girl Scout cookies, it is hard to imagine any product where door-to-door sales take place with greater market awareness.  They tend to rank up there with Coke and Pepsi!  Do you know anyone that has never heard of Girl Scout cookies?


Scouting has been a way for young people to grow and lean many things.  Business is one of those skills.  In fact, marketing, selling, and accepting rejection is part of the selling of the cookies.  The cookies sold are primarily to raise funds, but learning experiences are a significant benefit for these young women. 


Skills always grow as young women even as they age.  Hillary Clinton was a Girl Scout!  She became a prominent political figure having been a Presidential Candidate and now former Secretary of State.   She has experienced the negative effects in the public arena and weathered the storms.  In certain circles, she is one of the most likely to be the next President of the United States and first woman to hold that office.  The adversity of not receiving the nomination in the past did not hold her back and likely emboldened her in the challenge of being a Secretary in the Obama Administration.  Maybe those skills learned selling cookies grew over the years: i.e., she did not give up when faced with adversity!


Sometimes early age experiences provide skills that enable people to excel in the entrepreneurial world. 


1.      Never give up:  In a previous discussion, I wrote that “Entrepreneurs rarely throw in the towel.” This topic addressed the facts that entrepreneurs must possess a “stick-to-it” attitude to help them become successful.  It is hard to sell cookies when being turned down frequently.  The learning experience of staying with the task and accepting that some people do not what you have is great leaning experience.


2.      You can rebuild: I have written and discussed in talk shows that “You can rebuild after business failure and devastation.” Girl scouts learn this lesson by being excessively turned down or by selling the fewest boxes.  It is FAILURE followed by finding a new path to success that teaches one to never give up and seek a way to get a job done.  They learn that there is always next year and that striving to do better is the objective. This is a fantastic lesson to learn at such a young age.


3.      Networking and communication:  These two traits go hand in hand and they are extremely important to the entrepreneur.  The ability to communicate in clear concise messages along with meeting  new people is a staple of most successful entrepreneurs.


4.      Selling and closing:   Finally, the art of presenting a product and getting the customer to buy it is basic to all business.  This skill set fits with obtaining new jobs, running for office, or building a business.  One of the key products marketed in each of these is the entrepreneur’s ability to run the organization.  Makes you wonder if Hillary Clinton got some of her skills by selling cookies when she was younger!


 Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon