Business Lessons from the World’s Most Infamous Drug Dealer

In his prime, infamous Medellín cartel boss Pablo Escobar pulled in an estimated $20 million a day in revenue, easily making him one of the wealthiest drug lords in history. In 1989, Forbes named Escobar the seventh richest man in the word with a net worth of roughly $25 billion. When you have more money than you know what to do with and the feds slowly closing in, losing money to rodents is probably the least of your worries.  For the rest of us who run honest businesses, Pablo Escobar’s story provides remarkable advice. Here are some of the highlights.
According to Pablo Escobar’s brother and chief accountant Roberto Escobar, Pablo’s wealth grew at such a rate he was forced to stash mountains of cash in Colombian farming fields, warehouses, and in the walls of his cartel member’s homes. “Pablo was earning so much that each year he would write off 10% of the money because the rats would eat it in storage or it would be damaged by water or lost”.  Doing the math, Escobar lost nearly $2.1 billion a year – and it didn’t even matter.
You’re bound to run into unforeseen challenges when scaling your business. Escobar made so much money that he allegedly spent $2,500 on rubber bands a month just to keep his cash organized.   (What an inconvenient expense, right?) Growing businesses face a range of challenges. As a business grows, different problems and opportunities demand different solutions – what worked a year ago might now be not the best approach. All too often, avoidable mistakes turn what could have been a great business into one that falls to the wayside.
Surround yourself with a team that complements your strengths. Escobar began his illustrious criminal career by allegedly stealing gravestones and reselling them to smugglers. At the height of his powers, Escobar was responsible for 80 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States. As the Medellín Cartel grew, Escobar would enlist the help from other notable “colleagues” (we use that term loosely here) in the business of drug trafficking. This allowed him to concentrate more on growing his business and less on the day-to-day operations of his empire.
While we don’t advise anyone attempt to create a drug empire following Escobar’s example, Talley & Company understands the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your tax position, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee a legacy for your family, Talley & Company is uniquely equipped to provide the technical and managerial expertise to help you plan, negotiate, structure and execute upon your goals.
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