I've an avid student of american history and politics. I was the student body president of two universities, worked on Capital Hill, and currently serving as the Entrepreneur in Residence for the City of Los Angeles. My love politics is matched by my passion for building businesses. And I often think our government would be much better if politicians acted more like entrepreneurs:
The Reward Is The Outcome, Not the Position – The title of “Entrepreneur” has no value unless there are deeds and accomplishments to back it up. Being a Congressman, Senator, Governor or President is not an accomplishment… accomplishing things is an accomplishment.
When You’re Done Fundraising Build Something –Fundraising is a means to an end, not the end itself. Once we’ve raised money from loyal supporters, it is our responsibility to build something of greater value. Only then do we have the right to ask for more money.
Fail Fast – Everyone is expected to fail. What matters is how we eventually accomplish great feats. Don’t dig your heels into a strategy that has no chance of success, that’s not principled… it’s petty.
Work Harder – How many elected officials work startup hours to make sure to pass legislation? We’d be a greater country if politicians worked as diligently as engineers to solve difficult problems.
Risk = Reward – Nobody remembers the obstructionist. “It’s not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man in the arena…who does actually strive to do the deeds…who spends himself in a worthy cause.” – President Theodore Roosevelt
Debt Works in Your Favor When You’re Growing – Debt can be an amazing instrument to tap when you’re scaling, and is the cheapest way to finance growth. But when you’re flat or deflating, increasing debt often becomes the noose around a fragile neck.
You Can’t Have Consumption Without Production – Builders, makers, manufactures and engineers should be overly rewarded for producing outsized value. Don’t levy or hinder production, or there will just be less for everyone to consume.
Have a Win-Win Mentality – The pie is growing. More often than not, no one has to lose for you to win. We can get everything we need by seeking a win for others.
Your Vision Must Be Clear – Nobody wants to follow leaders who don’t know where they’re going. If a 5th grader can’t clearly articulate your vision it’s too complicated or confused.
Be Decisive – I can’t remember the last time an entrepreneur got to “abstain” or be counted as “not present” from making a decision. Once you’ve decided on a course of action be clear in what you intend to accomplish and don’t waiver.
People Feed Off Positive Energy and Optimism –How often do we hear members of political parties demean their opponents vs. praise them? Entrepreneurs tend to befriend and learn from people of opposing views. Our representatives should do the same. No one will ever be inspired by pessimism.
Under-Promise and Over-Deliver – Political campaigns are farces and fairytales. Undelivered promises never improved anyone’s life. Promise us less, and over-deliver on your commitments.
Embrace Your Critics – There is something to learn from every critique. Take the opportunity to engage with your critics. You’ll be better for it, and have fewer detractors along the way.
Love What You Do – Representing thousands or millions of people is an honor and opportunity that should be cherished. Have a passion for the democratic process not disdain for its faults. It’s the best imperfect government system invented yet.
Know Your Customers – What do they need, what do they want and what do they most care about? The more in touch you are with your customer/constituent, the more you’ll be rewarded for serving them aptly.
Execution Matters More Than Ideas – We get caught up in the dogma of our positions and ideas. But any seemingly good idea, poorly executed, is worse than a half-baked idea with flawless execution.
Competition Should be Encouraged – I’ve yet to visit a gerrymandered website. We all eventually benefit from fair and fierce competition.
Winning = Solving Problems – The more problems you solve the more customers or constituents you will have. Focus on delivering achievable, practical improvements and you’ll be rewarded.
Leaders Serve Their Customers, but Shouldn’t Always Think Like Them – No one ever became a leader by acting like everybody else. We elect our officials and entrust them to make decisions on our behalf. They should be the best of us and make the hard decisions for our benefit, even when we disagree.
(and for the record Lex Luthor is a horrible role model for all Entrepreneurs & Elected Officials...)
This article originally appeared on Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/10/15/what-politicians-should-learn-from-entrepreneurs/#61a394cbaec7
Money Runs Out – There is no blank check in business. Capital is your lifeline and needs to be allocated thoughtfully and judiciously. Cash resources are limited and when they’re gone, so is your endeavor.