Girl Scouts: Pioneers in Female Entrepreneurship

Monday, March 31 2014

The Girl Scouts has made headlines twice this month. First for its #banbossy campaign and secondly for Oklahoma City scout Katie Harris's record breaking cookie sales.

20140326-fta-banbossy-girlscouts-leanin-Nesiyah-RodriguezKatie Francis (not pictured) has been all over the news for breaking the record in sales of Girl Scouts Cookies. The Oklahoma City scout sold 18,107 boxes in 7 weeks and aims to sell 20,000 by March 30th. The previous record was set in 1986 for 18,000 boxes. Katie has made headlines not only for her impressive distribution of cookies, but for what she represents in the greater discussion on female entrepreneurship.

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It turns out that the Girls Scouts teach girls more than how to tie knots and survive in the wilderness. 80% of Female Entrepreneurs in America were once girl scouts. Coincidence? Probably not.

The organization is dedicated to teaching young girls leadership and socialization skills so that they can feel comfortable taking risks and being themselves. It has recently teamed up with LeanIn.org to launch the #BANBOSSY campaign (more about that below), aimed at raising awareness of the effects words have on self-image and motivation.Confidence, risk-taking, exploration, teamwork, character, self-esteem are at the heart of what the Girl Scouts organization stands for. They are also essential for entrepreneurship.

The cookie sales represent the world's largest girl-led business. According to GirlScouts.org "the nearly $800-million cookie program aims to teach girls five essential life skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, business ethics, and people skills."

Business Lessons From a 12-year Old
Katie has learned her 5 essential life skills well. The Oklahoma City native has been breaking cookie sales records for the past 2 years. For her, selling cookies is not only fun but also about helping a good cause. In an interview with local press, Koco.com, Katie summed up her recipe for success. Not surprisingly, they are universal to good sales strategy. "There are three ingredients to the cookie sale," she said. "It takes lots of time, commitment and asking everybody I see."

Time
Rome wasn't built in a day, neither will your business be. In order to build a sustainable business you have to invest time. Katie turned every outing into a sales opportunity, and treated her sales like a real job. Take advantage of every free moment you have to get the word out and dedicate to your project. You will reap what you sow.

"When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a 'leader', yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded 'bossy.'"

Commitment
Starting a business isn't always easy. You must be prepared to sacrifice, fail as well as succeed. Katie's dedication inspired her family to collaborate on a deeper level as she learned how to coordinate efforts and establish a plan. But it was her commitment that led to her success. Katie broke the state record two years in a row; having reached that goal, she then set her sights on the national record, and she is still working on beating her own record. She wants to reach 20,000 by the end of the month.

Chutzpah (audacity, daring, and self-confidence)
20140326-fta-banbossy-girlscouts-cookies-salesThe third pillar of Katie's Cookie Sales Strategy is "asking everyone I see." She has effectively learned how to deliver her elevator pitch. Many people shy away from asking because they feel like they are begging or asking for a favor, but Katie was assertive and turned the situation into a value-creating proposition for her customers. Every time someone bought a box they were helping empower young girls, contributing to a worthy cause, eat yummy cookies and take part in a tradition.

Most importantly, Katie sees cookie selling as fun. It's meaningful to her. And this is probably the biggest take-away the organization can offers in these campaigns. If you make entrepreneurship a fun and positive experience, more girls will be encouraged to participate actively.

#BANBOSSY
Mentorship and changing the way girls see success is at the core of the Girl Scouts. This year Sheryl Sandberg's organization LeanIn has teamed up with other prominent women including Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner, Melinda Gates, Condolezza Rice, Diane Von Fürstenburg and First Lady Michelle Obama to promote the #BANBOSSY campaign. It is based on the premise that "When a little boy asserts himself, he's called a 'leader', yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded 'bossy.'" So, changing the labels we assign to assertive behavior will encourage girls to be more assertive, and by extension, reach for their dreams.

Here's what the campaign looks like:

 

 


 
Amelia is a professional People Person, dedicated to helping people communicate and realize their ideas. After various lives in her native New York City, she has spent the last 8 years in Madrid chasing sunsets and traveling when she can.

 

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