Bank Robber or ATM Operator?

Bank RobberA Fortune 500 CEO once told me that I was a Bank Robber. Initially, I was offended. However, once he explained what he meant, I was flattered.

A Bank Robber is someone who craves the thrill of the chase. They love planning the heist and experiencing the adrenaline rush that goes along with taking down a bank. They relish the role of the underdog, with the odds are stacked against them. Yet they are able to persevere and accomplish something that few people ever achieve. In addition, Bank Robbers love the seemingly unlimited possibilities of each heist, as they can never be sure how much money each job will net them.

If you haven’t already subscribed yet, subscribe now for
free weekly Infochachkie articles!

There is a certain thrill in the expectation that the next heist could be the big one. Sometimes that expectation is the most exciting aspect of the robbery – OK, maybe getting shot at as you leave the bank is a bit more exciting, but most bank robbers optimistically assume that they will make a clean escape.

An ATM Operator sees life very differently. They like the comfort of knowing that every two weeks, they can walk up to an ATM and extract a specified amount of money. It is never more or less than what they expect. Every year, if they figuratively “wait in line” like a good ATM customer, then the amount they can withdraw will increase slightly, in line with inflation.

Entrepreneurs on The Fringe are law-abiding Bank Robbers. They enjoy the hours spent plotting and scheming and pulling together the best team to accomplish the heist. The outcome might be jail time (i.e., failure and bankruptcy), or it might be a haul so big that they never have to rob another bank again. Even though the time spent planning the heist is fraught with risk, uncertainty, and more than a bit of anxiety, it is highly preferable to an entrepreneur, as opposed to spending those same hours waiting in line at an ATM.

When recruiting the initial employees into your adVenture, you must weed out the ATM Operators from the Bank Robbers. In addition to the characteristics noted below, you may also want to consult “Finding an Entrepreneurial Gem in the Slag Heap of Big Dumb Company” and “Are You an Entrepreneur”.

Spotting Bank Robbers Without Ski Masks
A Bank Robber will ask questions that are focused on your products, customers, and the potential size of your adVenture’s overall opportunity. They will want to know about the banks you plan to hit, and how much money might be up for grabs. Conversely, the ATM Operator will ask questions centered on the Company’s financial condition, current investors, and potential future investors. They will seek an understanding of the amount of money that is currently in the ATM, who is going to refill it, and how often will this be done.

Entrepreneurs will revel in the small size of your startup. The more bootleg and funky the office space, the better. The fewer people participating in the heist, the more significant they will view their role. They will appreciate that fewer hands in the till when the loot is distributed means a bigger share for everyone. ATM Operators will eye your office space suspiciously and ask questions such as, “When do you plan to relocate?”

Bank Robbers will focus on the role they can play to ensure the team’s success. They will excitedly ask to drive the getaway car or to be the gunman. Conversely, ATM Operators will maintain a reserved countenance and ask about your benefit plans and whether or not you have a 401k Plan. Their intent is to determine what they can get out of the gig other than a biweekly ATM withdrawal.

Bank Robbers want to be assured that the venture is very risky, because they know the size of the potential upside is directly correlated to the risk undertaken. The more security a bank has, the harder it will be to crack, and the more money there is likely to be in the vaults. ATM Operators want to know what you will do to mitigate their personal risk, and they may ask for severance packages, acceleration of their vesting, etc. If something goes wrong, they want to know that they cut to the front of the line and empty the ATM before moving onto their next position.

Thus, when you are hiring your initial adVenture employees, be sure to determine if their preference is a ski mask or pantyhose, because they will need to get used to breathing through a Bank Robber’s mask for years to come. Once your Company is sold and you split up the take from the heist, they can take off their mask, go to Vegas and blow the loot. If the adVenture was personally rewarding for them, they will likely reconvene with you and begin planning which bank to take down next.

— Get hands-on advice from your Uncle Saul, Subscribe Today.

Copyright © 2007-9 by J. Meredith Publishing. All rights reserved.

Get real world advice from John Greathouse, Subscribe Today.