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Can a “good-hearted” entrepreneur succeed in business?

People argue over whether an entrepreneur with a sense of fairness, a desire for collegiality, a want to share the profits can succeed in the long run within a business world full of lions and tigers that eat timid entrepreneurs for lunch.

Does a “good heart” diminish the chances of success?

First, let’s separate the “good heart” from the issue of whether an entrepreneur is driven to succeed.  A sense of values that allows for sharing and fairness is not at odds with a ‘type A’ entrepreneur driven for success.

What is important is that stakeholders (people working for and with the entrepreneur) accept the entrepreneur for his or her good intentions, sense of fairness and willingness to listen.

Stories of the selfish entrepreneur

I have had numerous experiences during my business career where business people I dealt with took advantage of the moment selfishly because they could, not because they should.  I recall an executive who kept a large deposit but canceled a contract, refusing to negotiate, because the next payment due was a few days late.  Or another who sued over a gray area issue, refusing to listen or negotiate.  (He lost the suit and paid both sides’ fees.)

My unscientific conclusion

And I have come to conclude that “good guys” (men and women) do finish first.  There is no scientific proof, no metric to measure the full meaning of “good.” and no special acknowledgement from any “good-watching” organization.  Even without these, I am sure of this.

[Email readers, continue here…]  Surely the ruthless more often win in the short run.  But early successes, built upon the broken backs of adversaries, are rarely followed by long- term wins for the tyrant or for the tyrant’s company.

Be of good heart.  You will enjoy your entrepreneurial or managerial ride much more, and your stakeholders will follow you through the flames as well as cheer your successes.

  • Dave
    Thank you , I have had to remind people not to confuse kindness with weakness . We have run a business for 20 years with having our staff’s well being in the forefront. It has cost us more money to do that, but I can only imagine what it would have cost us if we didn’t .

  • Oh, Dave, I love this one!

    It gives me great comfort that my conscientious protection of my investors, being kind / appreciating those around me and giving ruthless people the benefit of the doubt will help me win in the long run!

    You are such an inspiration on so many levels and I am so honored to have your advice!

  • Eric Solis

    Great article Dave and an important conversation. I agree!

  • Hey Dave … another great post!! I 100% support your thesis. And there is some writing to support the notion that a “good heart” is not only the right thing but that ‘givers’ in Adam Grant’s book Give and Take do actually do end up better off than ‘takers’… onwards… ❤️ 🙂

  • Yannis Moati

    Thank you Dave for writing on this subject, which is often subject of my thoughts.
    I wish to be fair and kind. yet, most ppl tell you to be otherwise, and take advantage of ppl when the opportunity arises. Instead, it is always stronger than me to ask a person I am dealing with if she/he is happy with the outcome of a deal.
    Thank you dearly for reassuring me that I am not crazy nor stupid.

  • Peter Preovolos

    I am not sure I agree with you characterization of Entrepreneur. I think it is important to be “Fair”, Kind and Loving which requires being respected without that you can’t be anything worth a damn.

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