Criminals and entrepreneurialism

Entrepreneurs and Criminals…maybe it is quite a fine line…

Sheena Leaf

I was delighted to meet the very interesting Sheena Leaf in Exeter on Friday.  That’s Sheena in the photo.  Sheena was originally a psychiatric nurse and these days is working on a project in Devon called “The Entrepreneur Inside”.  It’s a project that aims to deliver entrepreneurial education to prisoners and Sheena’s part way through a prison pilot that will connect offenders with business professionals and a regional university business school to uncover legitimate entrepreneurial potential.

This is something that’s never occurred to me before – although a cursory Google search identifies a couple of serious academic research studies comparing especially drug barons & gang lords with entrepreneurs.

I find this a fascinating idea – as it’s all to do with circumstance and life chances as well as morals.  On the flight back to Belfast on Friday evening I jotted down a few thoughts of my own about what some of the similarities are.  This is what I came up with:

·         We all like ducking & dealing – although perhaps we call that negotiation

·         We all like to make money – sometimes even just for thrills

·         Both sets lean towards being manipulative and control freaks – again we probably call that negotiation

·         We all resent being told what to do & like to be our own boss and make our own independent decisions

·         Everyone has a healthy disdain for the competition (there’s a famous story from a non-Disney theme park who used the objective “Kill Mickey” internally)

·         We all work hard to make ourselves indispensable to our customer base and we all want “addictive” products to sell

·         Both of us like spotting opportunity & backing “horses”

·         We all monitor and respond quickly to market trends

·         We both have a strikingly different risk profile than other groups of people

·         We all like to break the rules although we tend to do that by using armies of professional advisers to look for legal loopholes.

Interesting eh?  I’d welcome your thoughts on this & I wish Sheena every success with her ground breaking pilot.