One myth perpetrated by the GOP in 2016 was that Donald Trump was a successful businessman and thus would make a good President. That reasoning gives rise to various questions: can governments be run like businesses, is Trump successful, and are entrepreneurs a different breed of cat.
Let’s take these issues in turn. While governments do need to be managed successfully, with an eye to economics and financial stability, they are indeed very different than a for-profit organization. A business is in fact driven by that profit motive, and all other decisions are secondary. A business leader must only be concerned with the wishes of a few owners or stockholders and the pressures of the market in which they choose to compete.
A government must be driven by a service to its citizens – their health, happiness, safety and welfare. A U. S. President must deal with the diverse needs of 320 million citizens, and lead wisely in a complex and sophisticated universe with both domestic and foreign pressures.
Secondly, there is considerable proof that Trump is not a successful businessman using good judgment and sound business principles, but as an aggressor, a junk-yard dog in the often cut-throat world of commercial real estate development. There have been persistent rumors of shady deals, questionable alliances, money-laundering and similar, but what can be proven is concern enough – a history of bankruptcies, lawsuits, unpaid subcontractors and lenders, and failed developments.
This brings us to our third question – whether an entrepreneur, any entrepreneur, could successfully lead a country as complex as the United States and safely guide it in a modern world, this morass, this Gordian knot of laws, economics, politics, science, technology, and human challenges of poverty, bias and violence.
In my business career, I served entrepreneurs, internally as a corporate officer, externally as a management consultant, and entrepreneurs are a very different breed of cat. Their minds work in erratic and often genius-fashion but their ability to interpret their ideas into reliable, consistent, practical solutions and systems is generally missing.
Often an entrepreneur can be successful in a small arena, just by the power of their personality. They may cut corners, burn out their staff, alienate business associates, and still succeed for a time. As their organization gets larger, the stakes are higher, the errors more costly, and failure a constant threat. As they move into the larger business universe, wise entrepreneurs learn to temper their judgment, hire the expertise of others, allow them to establish processes and systems that ensure appropriate decisions and operations. Some entrepreneurs never make this transition.
All governments rely on knowledgeable, lawful, consistent thought and action – as do most of the critical areas of our lives. If we needed a brain surgeon, we would hire the most educated and reputable doctor with demonstrable skills and experience in our area of medicine. We would not hire an entrepreneur. Neither do we need an entrepreneur (successful or failed) running our country.
— Jonnie Martin