Girl Scouts that sell Thin Mints and Samoas aren't just competing for a spot at Girl Scout camp. They're building entrepreneurial skills, and according to female entrepreneurs, selling Girl Scout cookies laid the foundation for their success.
"Girl Scout cookie sales were my first taste of big success," said Val Nelson, a Northampton, Mass.-based career and business coach. "Despite being a very shy girl and nervous to go door-to-door, people kept buying and the numbers soared."
Nelson, who now specializes in coaching introverted entrepreneurs and businesspeople, added that selling Girl Scout cookies helped her realize that she could do whatever she set her mind to, which her mother had already told her. "Plus, I must have gained confidence in being organized and trustworthy about it. It took decades before I started my own business, but I'm sure that cookie experience helped me build confidence to set out and try something new. I'm still learning the lesson of getting help and pacing myself, but I get better at that every year," she said.
"I remember being motivated not only by the prize of the "Dude Ranch" trip, but by knowing I could be the most successful salesperson in my troop. That was my first experience into my desire to someday own and run a business of my own," said Denise Antoon, founder of Austin-based social media, PR and event planning firm The Antoon Group.
Lauren Coudrain, owner of Mandeville, La.-based advertising firm The Coudrain Group, learned important lessons from selling Girl Scout cookies that she brings into her business today. "Goals are required for success. In Girl Scouts, it was a series of items you would get as you reached milestones. I always hit my goal number of boxes; I kept selling until I was there! In business, goals require much more thought but are just as important."
"It is all in the positioning!" said Karen Macumber, CEO of Boston-based Lifeables and a serial entrepreneur. "You'd be surprised how creative you have to get with messaging to get folks to buy cookies when they are on a diet or simply don't like cookies."
All these lessons learned from selling Girl Scout cookies have helped these female entrepreneurs today and prepared them for the challenges of running their own businesses.