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Evil Genius: 6 Business Tips You Can Learn from a Girl Scout

Evil Genius: 6 Business Tips You Can Learn from a Girl Scout

    They are mad, evil geniuses I tell you!

    Every year I watch the sale of Girl Scout cookies with amazement. These sweet, innocent and friendly girls all become masters of marketing, sales and business through the months of January and February. And you know what? I happily buy Girl Scout cookies every year. I open my wallet for them, and admittedly it is because I buy through my personal “connection” (aka: dealer) of these addictive cookies. One would think they are pushing drugs with how people talk about the cookies, but that is all part of their genius plan!

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    Here is the truth: the cookies aren’t special. We all enjoy home baked cookies more than we do mass-produced cookies, but at the same time, I definitely will crave and even horde the cookies. No one better touch my thin mints! Why do I do this every year? Because, I buy more than the cookie. I buy the “sizzle with the steak”, and watching the geniuses work, I have learned a lot about business. Here are six business techniques I’ve learned from the delightfully, ingenious Girl Scouts.

    1. Sell The Idea – The Sizzle

    My father always says when it comes to sales, “sell the sizzle not the steak”. The idea is rather common. Sales is about selling the story, the image and everything around the product, not the product itself. I personally like the saying, “ride the brand”. Brand your sales with an image and then ride it. Apple computers have done very well, as people crave to be part of the Apple computer family. They want the image and the community that comes with Apple, and all someone has to do to join this select group of people is purchase an Apple product. The same idea is used in personal branding.

    When it comes to Girl Scouts, the sweet girls are part of the Girl Scout cookie idea. It is their fundraiser. It is an organization that teaches girls so much, from knitting to car mechanics. By buying Girl Scout cookies we are helping an organization that helps people in our own town and community succeed. So to play off one of my favorite movie lines – Girl Scout cookies are made with real Girl Scouts, as we are buying into the image with the cookie.

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    2. Back Up The Product – The Steak

    Call me old fashioned, but I feel a product needs to be quality, as quality backs up the sizzle. If Apple computers were junk, people wouldn’t want the image of being an Apple fan. True, one may be able to find comparable products for cheaper, but their products are still good products. The idea is that their brand demands a high price, while their product backs up the brand. Girl Scout cookies are good. They may not be my grandmother’s cookies, but they are still good. They are also slightly unique in the style / taste, which makes them stand out from other cookies. Thus, they are able to make a good steak to back up that sizzle. As manufacturers, product managers and business people, we need to make sure our products can back up the brand that goes with them. For me, it is a matter of taking pride in what I do, and I firmly believe the manufacturing company for the Girl Scout cookie takes pride in what they do.

    3. Motivate Your Sales Force

    Did you know there are bonuses for troops that meet sales levels? The girls know they are paying for trips and activities with every sale. Troop leaders are really good at motivating Girl Scouts each year to sell the cookies. Additionally, many troop leaders will teach the girls how to sell. They are great at doing it, and above all they are passionate about doing it.

    4. Order In Advance

    Starting in January in my area, Girl Scouts are asking for orders for their cookies. When it comes to business, this same idea directs part of our sales. By getting advanced orders, we know how much to manufacture. That commitment is great for any business, and why I encourage businesses to find a revenue stream that encourages pre-ordering.

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    5. Keep Product On Hand

    Even with the orders, most troops purchase additional cookies. These will then go on sale outside businesses or are taken with them when they drop off the pre-orders. Why? There are always, always those last minute purchases. There are always people who decide they actually want more than what they first ordered, and you need to fulfill that order. Every industry is slightly different, but learn how much product to have on hand.

    6. Timing is Everything

    I believe Girl Scout cookies are the bane of most New Year’s resolutions. Why? About 20-30 days is when people who are on a diet start craving sweets. Even if you are not on a diet, 20-30 days after the holiday is another time to crave sweets, and guess who comes along? Those, sweet innocent, mad geniuses with the perfect fix to your craving. They are there when the timing is right, and they don’t worry about it for the rest of the year. This not only creates an exclusiveness of needing the product then and there, but it fulfills a desire that is going to be there. Not only do they have their timing down, they have mastered that buy it now or loose it mentality. Two timing essentials at one moment!

    Conclusion

    The girls in my community are geniuses in business, and I think many Girl Scouts carry these sales techniques as they grow up. As someone who was never a Girl Scout, but had a lot of friends who were/are, I know these techniques can help anyone out.

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    So the next time you go out and buy your Girl Scout cookie “fix”, take note of the seller’s genius. I know I will be when little Rachel (my “dealer”) calls to get my order.

    (Photo credit: Mint Filled Chocoalte Patties via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 18, 2018

    10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

    10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

    When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

    Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

    People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

    These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

    1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

    Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

    To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

    Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

    When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

    Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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    2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

    Things go wrong when you run your own business.

    Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

    Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

    Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

    Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

    If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

    3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

    Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

    As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

    Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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    After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

    Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

    He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

    4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

    No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

    It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

    You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

    Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

    An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

    5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

    You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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    As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

    Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

    Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

    You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

    6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

    In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

    Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

    • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
    • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
    • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

    By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

    7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

    Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

    As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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    8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

    No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

    Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

    9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

    Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

    If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

    10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

    Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

    Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

    If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

    The Bottom Line

    Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

    Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

    Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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