Entrepreneurs And Opportunism vs Cynicism

Don’t Be An Ambulance Chaser

There is no doubt that although the majority of entrepreneurs are simply individuals who spot a gap in the market where it exists, and use their business sense to make it work for them, there are others who see an opportunity for profit everywhere, and even take an approach which morally compromises them. It is important for an entrepreneur who wishes to be taken seriously that they do not get a reputation for the latter. It may make short-term business sense to be ready to make money where others would feel morally compromised, but in the long term fewer people will want to do business with someone who has a reputation for being morally blind.

In cases of natural disaster, a high-profile death, national emergency or other such events, some people will see the chance to make money and care little about how their actions will be interpreted. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, almost the entire world was united in revulsion about the events and in sympathy for the victims and their families, as well as being strident in their insistence that such a thing should never happen again. It was also the case, however, that a few individuals saw the opportunity to play on people’s fears by spotting a sales opportunity – hiking up prices on essential living items in the knowledge that people would be reluctant to leave their homes, selling security devices which would be useless in the event of another attack to play on the very real desire for safety, and so forth.

It is desirable for an entrepreneur to be opportunistic. Seeing the chance to make money where it exists is how an entrepreneur makes a living. While there is a lot of moral relativism around – “Someone was going to get rich off this, why not me?” is a favourite defence – it is essential for a businessman to consider the matter of public relations. OK, most people will view the concept of public relations to be something of a pseudo-science. The truth of the matter is that in business, it is important. In most cases, our conscience will restrain us from doing something that the majority of people would find distasteful. It can be tempting to look at someone profiting from a tragedy and think “Well, if that ass can do it, I don’t see why I should suffer because of my conscience.” But there are very good reasons not to give in to that thinking.

When someone makes a living off preying on the fears and the sorrows of individuals or groups, they gain a reputation as an “ambulance chaser” – from the branch of law known as “personal injury”, where people are encouraged to find someone culpable for an accident and sue them regardless of genuine responsibility. Ambulance chasers are not widely respected and will find that anyone who has a genuine choice as to whom they do business with will avoid them like the plague. It may be a way of making short-term cash, but in the long run it is not really a sound business approach.

First Published: Seo 28, 2009 entrepreneurjourney.com