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The 2016 election season is in full force, as candidates are touring the country to sell their brand and image to the American people. Campaigns are run like businesses, so candidates are essentially the leaders of their respective companies. But, what kind of entrepreneurs would these politicians actually be? Let’s take a look at the major players and match their personality traits with those of small business owners.
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Donald Trump: Assertive and Arrogant Antiques Dealer
We all know that Trump is a successful businessman, but what if he had to start over? What kind of entrepreneur would he be in the modern economy? The brash Trump would be the kind of leader who commands a room immediately, a perfect asset for a salesman. Specifically, he would go into a niche market like antiques or ancient artifacts and cater to higher-end consumers.
His off-the-cuff remarks and overconfident demeanor may be off-putting for some, but he could surround himself with like-minded individuals who really buy into his message. His employees would like his commitment to profit, and he would attract top talent because of his approach. This type of hiring would give him a team of salespeople who wouldn’t take no for an answer, which would further expand his business. He’s also traveled in high-society circles for quite some time, so he would be able to pitch his antiques as the “best” and would be great at finding the price points that really bring in the best potential investors. Trump would host great gallery showings, promote his brand spectacularly, and probably swallow up the competition.
Why he would succeed: Trump is a force, a larger-than-life person. This helps in business because people follow this type of personality until the end. He is also a known quantity in the market, and his brand carries a lot of weight. Publicity and marketing aren’t a problem, as he always is in the spotlight. Business owners should aim to have such a recognizable brand/image, and his methods in this regard should be emulated. Confidence goes a long way, especially in a sales-oriented industry, and he’s the king of confidence. Believing in your brand is essential, and he has this down to a science.
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Hillary Clinton: Opportunistic and Pragmatic Head of Female Education Startup
Similar to the junior senator from Florida, the former activist and First Lady of the United States has trained eye on glory and has meticulously planned her path to the White House. Hillary Clinton would be an entrepreneur that starts off with a benevolent slant but later becomes practical and profit-driven. She has years of corporate experience, but would be looking to start her own company that helps to educate young women around the world. Once she would see the support for this venture and the market for such a company, she would turn the startup into a larger corporation.
Hillary would enlist the support of a number of high-profile corporate leaders, and use this backing to establish the company as a leader within the space. Then, seemingly overnight, she would seek more financing and grow the startup into a sizable corporation. Hillary would start off as a philanthropic capitalist, accomplishing a lot of good within this space, and then become someone who couldn’t take her eyes off of glory and the bottom line. While she would remain principled, her ability to shift positions and take new stances would allow for success. Her employees would be along for the ride, riding the idealism train and serving as passionate workers and supporters. Regardless of the motivation, however, her drive and tenacity would accomplish her personal goals and that of her idealistic supporters.
Why she would succeed: Finding a market in which people are truly passionate is sometimes a godsend for businesses. However, you can’t get carried away with the message – you’re running a business after all! Hillary started as a passionate supporter of issues and then turned into a pragmatic leader. She cares about the end goal much more than the means of getting there, which is a valuable business lesson. Yes, you want to be principled, but being malleable and adjusting to the market is also important, and sometimes more important if you’re in a quickly moving industry. Pragmatism is the name of the game for small businesses – you want to be simple in your goals and use the easiest avenues to reach them.
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Ted Cruz: The Loner Who Runs a Successful IT Consultancy
The cocky intellectual and Ivy League darling (he graduated cum laude from Princeton with a BA and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School) has garnered support from voters of all walks of life. Ted Cruz’s meteoric rise has attracted criticism from both sides of the aisle, but his supporters are as staunch as any in the race. He has lampooned people within his party just as regularly as his opponents, which makes him the perfect lone wolf consultant. Sure, he would require only a couple of employees to perform some menial tasks, but he would be doing most of the brain-related work. His go-it-alone, “I’m smarter than you” mentality is perfect for the world of IT consultancy.
Sure, he would rub people the wrong way, but his guidance is going to help them save money and time. Independent consultancy is a great line of work for someone who despises collaboration and delegation. Cruz would establish a great customer base solely because of referrals and his excellent work. People aren’t going to hire him because they want to establish a relationship with him, they simply want someone to come in and do the job effectively. His credentials and work ethic will precede him, and customers will applaud his timely and no-BS style of working. Entrepreneurs don’t always have to be personable and charismatic, as some clients and customers just want a product or service without any frills. Cruz would simply deliver on his promise and leave, and his work would speak for itself.
Why he would succeed: Some people are better off alone. Taking the solo route may have its obstacles, but you have much more of an impact on your future success or failure if you take this approach. Highly driven and uber-intelligent people may operate better in this capacity. Cruz has made it far in life by being the best at what he does by outthinking and working the competition, as have many successful businesspeople. Sometimes friends and coworkers can only slow you down – removing distractions and focusing solely on a goal is the best recipe for success for the lone-wolf entrepreneur. Maybe you don’t have time for others, or simply don’t care to make relationships, but as long as your work is outstanding and your performance exemplary, everyone else doesn’t matter.
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Bernie Sanders: Wholesome and Zany Organic Fair Trade Coffee Shop Owner
Donald Trump’s populist counterpart isn’t a business-savvy billionaire, but a large segment of the population is buying what he is selling. Bernie Sanders would be the easy-going entrepreneur, relying on the message behind his product rather than the actual product or business model. His business would start small, operate in a niche market, and then flourish once people began to seek alternatives to the established product narratives.
Even after it catches on, his coffee won’t appeal to everyone, but he has been pushing the organic model forever. This consistency is often rewarded in the business world, and brand loyalists would contribute significantly to his revenues. Sanders would be one of the entrepreneurs who aligns his company with his values – this strategy doesn’t always work, but people appreciate consistency. His employees would be especially loyal, and would likely accept less money because they enjoy working for a company that shares their values. Also, his brand may be more of a regional hit, as certain parts of the country would be wary of such products.
Why he would succeed: People like someone who is genuine and has a backbone. Sometimes the credibility of the person who delivers a message is more important than the actual message. The same can be said for a business – you don’t want to be resistant to change, however – as having an ethical foundation will serve you in a positive manner. Sanders has generated a devoted following because he is consistent, and certain businesses have flourished because of this model. Putting out a consistent product and backing it with genuine rhetoric will appeal to people. Maybe price points aren’t your forte, but the quality of your offering, coupled with your upfront message, could be enough to generate a loyal customer base.
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Marco Rubio: Smooth and Calculated Used Car Dealership Owner
The young, upstart senator from Florida has cashed in his rags to riches story and gained momentum thanks to his well-polished image and his unique ability to articulate a thoughtful and resonating message. Marco Rubio would be an entrepreneur that used his energy and quick wit to be successful. He may lack the experience of other used car dealers, but his energy and his ambition would drive (forgive the pun) his business to prominence. He would play nice with the right people, establish important industry relationships, and outwork his competition.
The used car industry can be cutthroat, but Rubio would ally himself with the right established players until he saw an opportunity to pounce. This type of tactic may not win a lot of long-term friends, but it often leads to success. His employees would embody this same type of win-at-all, Machiavellian type of approach, and sales at his dealerships would skyrocket. Some customers may be turned off by his merciless and intense business model, but the value of what he would sell would negate any moral stances against his company. Substance and just the right amount of well-disguised sleaze would be the dual catapults that Rubio would use to reach the top of the market.
Why he would succeed: Substance matters to consumers, but the presentation of the product or service is often more important than what is being sold. Rubio is a consummate salesman, as he packages his message in a way that appeals to people of all levels of intelligence, income, and background. Sometimes you can impress customers with intelligence without turning people off. Demonstrating the value of your product or service in a way that reaches blue- and white-collar audiences is difficult, but not impossible. Be blunt and describe the characteristics and what differentiates you from your competition. Position yourself as the new player on the market, but emphasize that you have a unique approach that’s far better than the old, established industry players.
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Jeb Bush: Stubborn and Soft-Spoken Convenience Store Owner
Being in a presidential family probably isn’t easy, but it sure prepares you for the campaign trail. Jeb Bush has been at the bottom of the polls for the entire election campaign, but this may leave him poised for eventual success once the dust clears. This is his approach: take the slow and steady route by pushing a safe and generally accepted position and hoping that it eventually gains traction. He would buy a low-risk, low-upside business and take a consistent and long-term approach to making it a viable and profitable enterprise. Bush is smart enough to adhere to this strategy without changing course, and this commitment will pay off in the long run as other, similar ventures make blunders or try to expand too rapidly.
Convenience stores aren’t the easiest operations to run, with such low margins and requiring such long hours, but the tortoise mentality is a much better fit than a hare mentality. Patience is the name of the game, and if you make small, incremental improvements, your potential for success is much greater than that for a complete overhaul. His employees would be efficient but fickle, as it’s hard to generate a lot of enthusiasm for this type of business model. But, stability and a sound business plan may be enough for this to succeed. This brand will be on that people come back to after exploring other options, and Bush is hoping that enough of these other choices falter before it’s too late. Entrepreneurs don’t always have to take significant risks, especially if they have a tried and true message on which to fall back.
Why he would succeed: Remaining true to your message, regardless of its initial popularity, is something that people tend to respect. Sure, it’s not overly exciting or adventurous, but it may be enough to win out in the end. Long-term thinking is a necessity for any entrepreneur, and many people lose sight of the far-off goal because of some enticing opportunity that suddenly presents itself. Being able to ignore people who can’t take the long-term view is difficult, especially if you are surrounded by competitors who are making noise and trying to make their mark. Bush is an establishment type, and this type of entrepreneur is often successful in less-risky ventures. You don’t have to ignore your creative impulses or limit your yearning for future growth, but this type of business requires some discipline with regard to the foundation and initial expansion phases.
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Martin O’Malley: Went Bankrupt
His business failed due to a lack of effective marketing, poor name recognition, and his desire to compete with two powerful brands.