Why the Business Development Strategies Scarface Proposed Won’t Work

Drug dealer business development strategies like that of Scarface just don't work in real life

by Rod Dunne on March 3, 2011

in Biz Dev

It has long been customary to use business development strategy ideas from disparate industries as a way of rethinking business models and strategies. From Al Capone to the life of gangster rappers, you can find transferable skills.

In this article, I’ll take a look at a quote from the movie Scarface which defines a business development plan and innovation strategies common to drug traffickers.

I’ll show how this needs to be completely reversed in order for it to be applied to legitimate enterprises.


In realistic terms, black market economies are based on the same rules of supply and demand as bona-fide industry. In the movie Scarface, the principal character spelled out his business development strategies by stating that first you get the money, then you get the power and then you get the women.

To put this quote in more politically-correct and business-like terms of reference: his strategic business plan is stating that you first need to get financial funding/investment (i.e. the money), then you will gain the market share (i.e. the power) and then you will attract employees to your firm.

The simple fact is: this sort of business development strategy only applies to fictional underworld stories. In the reality of modern legitimate industry, your business growth strategies need to progress in the opposite order to the movie quote.

First you get the employees,
then you get the power of market share and
then you get the monetary profits!

First you get the right employees

This is essential to small start-up companies where it is critical to get a good mix of people on board in the early phases to define the ideas/product lines which the company will attempt to implement and the strategic business plan for the years ahead. Any business proposal templates you see will always focusing on the resources required and activities it will be needing to do the key priority.

This is even more critical in establishing a small business strategy. You need employees with motivation and a broad range of skills especially when starting out.

Then, you gain market share

The business processes and business development plan defined by the first set of employees within a firm defines:

  • How products are implemented,
  • The marketing and business growth strategies that are used and
  • Whether or not their product lines successfully get introduced into the marketplace for many years after a company is instantiated.

If everything is in place, and there is a market for the product, then it is only natural for your profitable business ideas to see their market share to increase in due course.

And then you get the money

As a company starts to hit its stride, gaining market share, they gradually begin to benefit from economies of scale production, expanding their customer base, leveraging customer service quotes  & surveys in new products features/improvements and improving their sales channels locally and internationally, which all leads to increasing profits and a steady cash flow for the firm.

To play devil’s advocate (another great role by Pacino!), it could be argued that certain modern enterprises have followed business growth strategies which would seem to validate the Scarface quote. As an example, Google managed to gain a large amount of venture capital, then they gained market share of the online search industry and then they started to attract the very best software engineering employees to work for them.

However, if you step back through the years it disproves the movie quote, as you will see that business development strategies within Google were defined by some of its earliest employees and founders which defined the nature of the product lines (search algorithms and strategies), creative management techniques and a uniquely innovative business model.

As a result, they gained market share (as users saw how effective the search functionality was) and then they started gaining huge profits thanks to their innovative online advertising business model.

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Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on Product-ivity.com. This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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