By Princess Jones

The Girl Scouts has been around for a hundred plus years and hosts nearly three million girls. The organization teaches girls about community outreach, self esteem, and friendship, among other values. And over the years, the Girl Scouts has established itself as a force to be reckoned with as it takes over the cookie market once a year. There’s a lot your small business can learn from these little tough cookies.

Cultivate a Signature Product

What are the Girl Scouts known for? Cookies, of course. Even though some troops also sell candy and nuts in the cookie off season, cookies remain their core product.

What’s your business’ core product? What is it known for? Many times, we make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people but that’s actually a good way to lose market share. If you focus on making a signature product or service and making it the best it can possibly be, you’re more likely to be successful with that than if you try to do too many things at once.

Leverage Personal Relationships

I’m a big fan of Girl Scouts’ cookies and most people know it. So when cookie season starts every year lots of people reach out to me. But I have cookie connection — my stepdaughter. I spend my entire cookie budget with her because we have a personal relationship. In fact, most Girl Scout cookies are sold through relationships or second tier relationships.

Your small business can do the same thing. Not every one of your contacts will have a need for your product or service, but many of them will. And some of them will be willing to spread the word to their networks, too. Business is built on relationships so don’t be afraid to put yours to work.

Uniforms Are Branding

The Girl Scout uniform is iconic. It’s instantly recognizable and just as linked to the brand as their logo. But it’s actually more useful than a recognizable logo because the girls wear the uniform and act as walking billboards.

As a small business owner, you can use uniforms to make your branding stand out. That doesn’t mean you have to put yourself or your employees in a whole polyester get-up with a sash. Just put some effort into making it a cohesive experience that your customer can recognize.

Let’s say you run a pie shop. You may not want your employees to be in full uniforms every day but you can use something as simple as a retro home-style apron to brand your workers. You could have all of the workers in your retail stores wear them and even put them on your delivery people. As long as you’re consistent with it, your customer will come to associate those aprons with your brand.

Image credit: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar