If you're a lady of a certain age, you most likely lived and breathed The Baby-Sitters Club when you were growing up. Author Ann M. Martin dreamed up a group of likable, determined, and industrious friends who all happened to love babysitting. We enjoyed reading about the girls' literal adventures in babysitting - how they would troubleshoot as disasters arose, how they juggled the needs of kids at different ages, and how they ran an independent business without the help of any adults.
Yet while we were loving the babysitting stories and tales of friendship, we were also absorbing actual information about entrepreneurship. Here was a group of young women who consistently held meetings, delegated roles, traded tips to improve their work skills, and - quite literally - ran a business together.
In a profile on Ann M. Martin, The New Yorker points out, "For many of us, The Baby-Sitters Club offered an early glimpse into the world of ambitious working women. Granted, they were middle-schoolers, but they were girl bosses, role models long before pop culture gave us Olivia Pope, Liz Lemon, or Leslie Knope."
So what did the "girl bosses" of today learn from these ambitious teens and tweens? Keep scrolling for some of the greatest business tips gleaned from our beloved BSC.
1. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Remember the first book in the series, Kristy's Great Idea? In it, we're introduced to the concept for the BSC which Kristy cooked up as a way to help her single mom (and others like her) reach a bunch of qualified babysitters at once (rather than calling various households, trying to find one babysitter who's available). Kristy identified a particular demographic and invented a service that would meet its specific needs.
2. Delegate roles based on skills and talents.
Kristy - like all boss ladies - was wise enough to acknowledge that she wasn't 100 percent excellent at every single task in the business. It saves time and headaches to divide the work by assigning roles to people based on their skills and interests, and thus: Kristy was president, Claudia was vice president, Stacey was treasurer, and Mary Anne was secretary. The girls took their roles seriously and the Baby-Sitters Club ran like a well-oiled machine because of it.
3. Advertising is key - and word of mouth is the best form of advertising.
In a world before social media and mommy blogs, the BSC relied heavily on referrals for their business. They also used fliers and newspaper ads, but their best form of marketing was word of mouth - a domino effect of one set of satisfied parents recommending the BSC to their friends with kids, who recommended them to more friends, and so forth. The girls kept the BSC's reputation pristine so that this free advertising would keep working for them.
4. Keep careful records.
It's not like the BSC was ever going to be audited, but if it were, the girls would have had nothing to be concerned about. Stacey meticulously kept track of finances by collecting dues at meetings and managing costs (buying snacks, refreshing the Kid Kit supplies, splurging on the occasional pizza party). Meanwhile, Mary Anne was responsible for the record book, maintaining babysitting schedules, along with keeping detailed information about clients (their contact information, hourly rates, kids' allergies, etc.). The success of the Baby-Sitters Club, as a business, was in large part due to the organizational skills of the members.
5. Establish rules to maintain order and hold people accountable.
Mixing business with friendship can be a delicate dance, but the girls of the BSC somehow managed to be responsible and dutiful while remaining friendly and relaxed with each other. Still, as a boss, Kristy was a stickler for punctuality, and there were consequences to being late too frequently. She displayed a nice-but-firm leadership style that any real-life adult boss would be wise to emulate.
6. Have a cool office with great snacks.
BSC meetings were held in Claudia's room because she had her own phone line, and her addiction to junk food meant there were always snacks available. As any office-dwelling millennial can tell you, cool snacks are absolutely key to employee satisfaction. Claudia even went so far as to offer sugar-free snacks for Stacey (who had diabetes) and Dawn (the club's resident health nut before "eating mindfully" was de rigueur).
7. Strategize a coverage plan and allow for time off.
When needed, the girls of the BSC would cover for each other, and they even had an "alternate officer" (Dawn, and later Abby) to assume the duties of members who needed to miss a meeting. Basically, they figured out PTO (well, without the "P") even as a teenage babysitting club.
8. Offer innovative tools to gain the competitive edge.
Aside from being a practical and sanity-saving tool for the babysitters, the Kid Kits (boxes of toys, coloring books, bubbles, and games for the babysitters to take with them on jobs) were a great selling point for the business. It elevated them from being merely a group of teens trying to make some extra cash to businesswomen with problem-solving skills and original ideas about entertaining their charges. If there had been any rival babysitter clubs in the area, they'd have had to up their game to compete with the BSC.