When Warren Buffett was about 7 years old, he checked a book called One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000 out of the library. He says it changed his life.
Keep that start in mind as we share the story of a 9-year-old Canadian Girl Scout (actually, they call them Girl Guides in Canada). Because she managed to sell an entire stock of Girl Scout cookies in 45 minutes recently, in a way that displays Buffett's key advice to entrepreneurs.
Reporter Emily Fitzpatrick from the CBC found the girl, named Elina Childs, as she towed her wagon full of cookies down a line of people waiting to buy newly legal Canadian marijuana, at a store called Nova Cannabis.
The nine-year-old Girl Guide and her father ... sold all 30 boxes in less than 45 minutes, earning $120 for Girl Guides.
"It amazed me how quickly they went," said her dad, Seann Childs. "Even people in cars driving on the avenue there would stop and roll down their window and ask for cookies."
Which brings us back to Buffett. His best advice for entrepreneurs? (It differs from his top advice from investors, of course.)
"If there's one thing to remember: Delight your customer," Buffett told interviewer Dina Habib Powell at a Goldman Sachs event in 2016.
Regardless of whether Elina Childs actually knows about Buffett, his advice describes exactly what she did here. She found an audience that would be delighted by her product, rather than trying to force it onto other people.
Consider the more traditional methods lots of parents encourage their daughters to use to sell Girl Scout cookies, and how this compares.
- Sell them door to door? Super inefficient. Who knows who's even home?
- Stand outside a shopping center? Maybe, if you're allowed to. But you're probably trying to sell cookies to people on their way to or from a big store with a much bigger selection. Plus you're competing with other girl scouts.
- Bug your parents' coworkers? This is a common strategy. I'm not sure how much it's about delighting customers though, as opposed to pressuring them.
Instead, the 9-year-old Childs and her dad took the cookies to an audience that they could be sure would be delighted by the idea of buying cookies.
Now, as some people on the Internet have pointed out, this isn't a 100 percent original strategy. I wrote about it myself when a Colorado girl made headlines for selling Girl Scout cookies to people buying marijuana.
(One thing that I haven't understood, not having a lot of experience with this myself: Don't you get the munchies after using marijuana, not before?)
Regardless, even if it's been done before, it's a smart way to find people who love your product: and a brilliant execution of Warren Buffett's best advice.