What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From The Mafia

Preston Waters

The idea of the Mafia comes with a very powerful and intimidating connotation. In case you forgot, the Mafia is what actually ran this country and most of the world back in the 70’s and even throughout the early 90s.

At times when the government had little or no power because society refused to obey their rules, it was the Mafia that seized this opportunity to take control of several different cities across the US, reaping all the benefits of the hard work and consumerism of their citizens.

Despite their reputation for criminal activities, the Mafia always maintains a solid structure and a strong code of conduct that not only insures a constant influx of cash, but also prevents their business from failing the test of time. It’s those factors that have led their operations to expand and ultimately thrive beyond expectations.

At the end of the day, a spade is a spade and a businessman is a businessman. These organizations were businesses and the people inside of them were businessmen just trying to make a living that was far more exciting and rewarding than the average pedestrian lifestyle at the time.

You can even go as far as calling their leaders entrepreneurs because they found ways to make money in an unconventional and self-reliant manner.

The amount of lessons that we can learn from the Mafia are far and wide, as we are all working for the same goals: money, power, respect We as entrepreneurs are always utilizing different aspects of their business tactics each day.

We spend days figuring out how we can access new markets and build global brands. By studying the Mafia, there is much we can learn to create more opportunities to do this more effectively than any college professor could imagine.

Here is a top 8 list of things entrepreneurs can learn from the Mafia:

1. Fu*k you pay me

The Mafia knew that the business world would eventually turn into what it is now: almost completely void of credit and full of distrust and back-stabbing within businesses of all sorts.

If you think someone you don’t really know is going to pay you back when they promised you, you’ve got another thing coming.

Whether it be a vendor or a client or someone you have contracted for any possible service, the Mafia showed us that it is fear that makes people pay their dues and play by the rules you have put in place.

As a business, especially a new business, you always need to make sure you live by the “fu*k you, pay me” mantra because if you don’t show that you will punish those who treat your deadlines lightly, you will be run out of cash and immediately overpowered by your rivals.

You will encounter many people you do business with that hate paying on time or in full. Don’t let these idiots give you grey hair.

“You a gangster now. You can’t learn it at school… you can’t have a late start.” Carlito (Carlito’s Way)

2. The loyalty

When a new member joined a Mafia family (which was called “being made”) they had to make an oath that says, ”Should I betray my friends, may I burn in hell.” This is what forced everyone in the business to rely on each other and make the trust and success of their co-workers as their number one priority.

All the members worked equally hard because they all maintained the same respect for the boss.

As an entrepreneur, you must realize that your team is your backbone and their loyalty to you as well as your loyalty to your vision is what will bring you success in addition to a family environment rich with trust and companionship. Make the oath to persist and stick by it.

3. Rock the boat

“Non si fa nessunna frittata senza rompere le ouva,” which translates to “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” Those that are willing to stir things up to get ahead are those that make a name for themselves in this world.

These are the people that work hard and understand that opportunities are taken, not given. They make bold decisions, take action and break a shitload of eggs in the process.

This is what the leaders of the Mafias all over the world did every day. They went outside of their comfort zone to rock the boat and create a rift in a certain business. Their ambition drove them to screw up the lives of others to make a better life for themselves. Sure, they were addicted to power, but aren’t we all?

“In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.”-Tony Montana (Scarface)

4. The payroll

The Mafia has lawyers, statesmen, police officers and other high-powered authorities on their ”payroll”. They pay people that are sure to protect their business and give them opportunities to expand very well.

Everyone’s pocket was always full of cash as long as they used their authority to consistently help out the family they were aligned with.

The same should go for your business in terms of paying your sales agents, brokers, employees and anyone else you need to bribe to gain access to different markets.

Pay your brokers and sales agents a good commission instead of the standard one in order to keep them working their hardest for you.

Keep your workers motivated by showing them the rewards that hard work will get them. The Mafia understood this strategy and that is how they kept all their men in order.

“I treat my men good, but not too good, or I’m not needed. I give just enough so that they need me, but they don’t hate me,”-Sonny (A Bronx Tale)

5. The 5 families

The Mafia is usually made up of 5 families that do business together. They collaborate to back each other up when their individual strengths are needed, because they all share a common goal that can only be reached if every family is operating successfully.

This illustrates the importance of strategic partnerships and joint ventures.

I always say ”Your market is made out of 7 continents” and those markets can only be accessed through effective alliances and feudalistic deals.

6. Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.

You may remember the advice that Jimmy Conway gave to a young Henry Hill in the Scorsese classic “Goodfellas.” It worked for the Mafia for hundreds of years and it still helps out many businesses to this day. Gossip and office politics are petty and unproductive.

Mind your business, don’t talk out of turn and remain loyal to your friends and co-workers.

We had another saying growing up that said “even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut!” When in question or under pressure, shut the hell up and don’t ever put your friends or business in danger.

7. Reputation is everything.

Anyone who you do business with will judge you based on your commitment to your deeds. A favorite proverb states that “a good name is better than riches.” As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to decide what you stand for, and let your actions speak for themselves.

Guard your reputation like gold. The Mafia always made sure their enemies and friends got the impression that their family was a no-nonsense group of people.

8. Live by the code of conduct.

Last but not least, you must always have a code of conduct as an entrepreneur. The Mafia lived by the importance of money, power, respect.

They had a strict hierarchy where much of the respect was given to the boss and the ones below had to earn their respect with hard work and dedication.

As an entrepreneur, you must set your own code of conduct for your business and have everyone buy into it. You must show the value of your code because it reflects your ability to lead and your team’s ability to produce.

“Mickey Mantle? That’s what you’re upset about? Mantle makes $100,000 a year. How much does your father make? If your dad ever can’t pay the rent and needs money, go ask Mickey Mantle. See what happens. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you. Why care about him?”-Sonny (A Bronx Tale)

Preston Waters


No Comments