Girl Scout Cookies – The Entrepreneurial Program Gets It Right
After dinner, my wife offers a thin mint from a Girl Scout Cookie package. I notice the side panel of the package stating the five essential skills learned by girls in “the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world.” I read the skills, impressed that indeed these are the essential entrepreneurial skills, but also thinking that the succinct list obscures the complexity involved with mastering each task.
The first skill is goal setting. Certainly one must set goals – to move forward and to know when one succeeds. But how big should the goal be? Should a goal be achievable or always out of reach? How will progress toward the goal be measured? How does one create a plan to reach a goal?
Decision-making is listed as done individually and as a team. Ultimately the authority to make a decision rests with an individual, but how does one gather the necessary information, have conversations with the right people, and understand timing to make consistently good decisions? Quality decisions over time (consistently good decision making) involves understanding how to involve a group in the process (the right people in the right place at the right time). As one who is responsible and in charge, how does one maintain the humility to perceive the advice and information provided by the group decision-making process?
Money management is stated to involve creating a budget and handling money. Entrepreneurs who experience liquidity problems are often those who are unable to plan for changing circumstances and foreseeable risks. How does one plan for the long-term and yet be ready to change with circumstances, foreseen as possible or perhaps unforeseen?
Interacting with customers is stated to build confidence allowing girls to find their voice and thus develop people skills. The essential task for developing relationships with other people, and especially those with who you are doing business, is being able to articulate the values behind the goals you set. This will give your actions credibility that is often missing in an entrepreneurial activity which is often centered on the short term. The skill of communicating the values behind actions and goals earns credibility and respect. This communication is best done on a personal and intuitive basis and not as a stated manifesto. Cultivating relationships is an art form.
The final skill is business ethics, obtained by the girls learning to act ethically both in business and life. The core value of integrity – requiring awareness of express and implied rules and consistency in observing them – is an essential value involved in the setting of goals and the articulation of values to others. Entrepreneurs who plan by learning to articulate values, set goals, identify actions to reach those goals, and measure the effectiveness of those actions will also be inclined to do so within the rules and standards recognized by those in the business environment in which they work.
I think that the Girl Scout cookie entrepreneurial program gets it right – not just for girl entrepreneurs but also for the rest of us. Just one huge caveat: it is really hard to acquire these skills and harder still to maintain them.
If you need help with essential entrepreneurial skills, please review the articles in my blog, listen to my podcasts, or watch my videos. You can also call me.