Entrepreneurship in Green

Two of my daughters were Girl Scouts when they were younger and for them, selling cookies door-to-door was a big deal. Now, they are an even bigger deal as Girl Scouts organizations around the country are applying entrepreneurial training to boost sales and raise the marketing quotient of the scouts at the same time.

It was only a few weeks ago that we marked Entrepreneuship Week USA. Much attention was devoted to encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit and what that means to our future economy.

Anyone interested in spurring this spirit with young people should read the recent article by Elizabeth Olson in the New York Times, “Girl Scout Cookies in Bulk: Annual Rite Becomes a Tool to Teach Entrepreneurial Skills.” To read the article, click here.

Even though this is the 90th year for Girl Scout cookie sales, the article shows that there is nothing stale about the tools young women are learning to market these icons of American youth. Consider these developments:

In Sacramento in January, 600 girls attended a one-day cookie college, sponsored by Merrill Lynch, to learn about creative marketing.

In Seattle, one local scout convinced a car dealer to award a box to everyone test driving a new Buick or Pontiac.

A scout in Chicago uses email to reach potential clients, growing her customer base from 700 to over 1500 now.

A Santa Barbara girl scout group developed an initiative that became the CEO in Training Program to teach entrepreneurial fundamentals. The girls learned how to set sales goals, find prospects among local businesses, make appointments, develop telephone sales scripts, make presentations and coordinate deliveries.

Members of the National Association of Women Business Owners are mentoring girl scouts in Chesapeake, Va. that is helping the girls win big orders from local companies.

These are great strides forward for the girls and for the long-term vitality of the American economy where these young people will one day take the place of today’s business leaders. Learning that entrepreneurial ism is not a theory but a working model will stay with them for a long time. Hats and berets off to the 2.7 million Girl Scouts and their leaders!