What Ethical Entrepreneurs and Jobseekers Can Learn from Successful Bankrobbers

How do you get money fast when jobs or clients are scarce? Mention that challenge in any brainstorming group, and inevitably someone will joke, “rob a bank.”  Laughter will inevitably ensue, then the group will go on to same-old ideas that already haven’t worked.

But what if you could turn the outrageousness of the bankrobbing suggestion into a catalyst for absolutely ethical client-building or job-finding strategies? Here’s one set of tips you could discover with quick brainstorming questions.

Why rob a bank?  Because that’s where the big money is right now.

Why not rob a bank?  Everyone’s property, health, comfort and safety matter to you.  Your conscience and self-respect matter to you.

What does it take to rob a bank:  Audacity.  Careful planning.  Reliable sidekicks.  Not worrying about what others think.

What lessons can you take from bankrobbers to meet your financial needs in a way that’s absolutely ethical?

The first thing, of course, is to turn around the answer of why not rob a bank, and consider, “how can I support others’ property, health, comfort and/or safety so much that people will be grateful to hand me money in exchange for my goods or services?”  That’s going to take some research and careful planning.  You can do that!

Next, turn the rest of the bank-robbing strategies above into ethical ones.

1.  Go where the biggest money is. Example:  even if you need money fast because the unemployment is running out, don’t depend solely on temp agencies, like everyone else does.  Create a great spiel and sell your own temporary services at a higher price than the agency would pay you, but less than clients would pay an agency.  It may take a lot of calls, but it’s worth it.

2. Be audacious, beginning with brainstorming. Most of us censor out our best ideas way before even one good one hits consciousness. “Playing bankrobber” for a few minutes may make you feel daring enough to relax that censor.  Just for fun, get wildly creative as  you practice your spiel or draft a cover letter. Then rein in the outrageousness a bit so you can find that right mix of creative and sensible, daring and dependable.

3.  Plan carefully. Learn the habits of your target employer or market.  Know what keeps them up at night, what saves them money or time.  Research where they hang out and how they like to get information.  Network to discover someone who knows someone who has a personal connection into the market or company you want to penetrate. If your potential customers don’t read flyers or even beautifully designed bulletin board notices, don’t waste your time or money on them.

4.  Get some reliable sidekicks who can help you network, stay on track, brainstorm ideas, commiserate and celebrate. I love the Hub www.the-hub.net, a rapidly growing international network of people who love to help others create sustainable, socially responsible businesses.  If it’s not in your town yet, see what else is, or create your own.  A woman I know just created a great new group by putting an ad on Craigslist. Six committed heads who bring their laptops along to brainstorming and support sessions really are better than one.

5.  Stop worrying so much what others think. After hearing Dizzy Dean’s comment that “it ain’t bragging if it’s true,” I ignore a lot of “Patty, stop making a spectacle of yourself” voices from childhood and focus on “what does the client really want?” Then, I consider, “what can I offer this potential client?”  One of my favorite gigs came from adding a paragraph to my cover letter that began, “If this were my dream job.” It listed not just how I might meet their listed needs, but also some of their anticipated needs that came from my own meditation about what it would be like to work for the client.

6.  Finally, have fun. Again, I am absolutely opposed to anything unethical.  Yet, I love a good, non-violent caper movie, like the classic “Topkapi,” starring starring Melin Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, Robert Morley and others who cleverly seek to steal a priceless emerald-loaded dagger.  If you put even 1/10 as much daring and creativity in your search for ethical, quick money as this gang of thieves put into their jewel heist, how might you discover a new path to money, both quick and long-term?

Got any examples in your life to share?  Got a specific problem you’d like others to brainstorm for you?  The comment box below awaits you.

As always, many blessings,

Pat McHenry Sullivan