Al Capone might not have been your typical entrepreneur. After all, he was convicted of tax evasion and was actively involved in prostitution, bribery, smuggling and selling illegal booze. But just because his business wasn’t legal doesn’t mean Capone didn’t know a thing or two about running a successful operation. In fact, Capone owned more than 300 businesses, and he knew how to get things done and command respect and loyalty from his employees.
In fact, Capone’s business acumen may well have been one of his greatest assets, according to Deirdre Marie Capone, Al Capone’s grandniece, who lived in the house of her famous (and favorite) uncle. Capone, the last member of the family born with the Capone name, authored an explicit memoir that details her efforts to hide the fact that she was related to Capone and recounts her decision to eventually embrace her name and family history.
The book, “Uncle Al Capone: The Untold Story From Inside His Family” (Recap Publishing, 2011), tells many revealing facts about this iconic figure’s life, death and business dealings.
Sometimes known by the nickname “Scarface,” Al Capone worked his way up to running a criminal empire in Chicago during the Roaring Twenties. While the core of Capone’s business was illicit bootlegging during Prohibition, Capone’s overall business acumen allowed him to expand his influence throughout Chicago as a whole. During this time, Capone cultivated business interests in a range of fields, including cleaning and dyeing, while garnering the support of public officials, unions and employees’ associations.
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Capone was arrested at the age of 33 by the FBI following a seven-year run as the boss of the Chicago Outfit. While Capone was implicated in bootlegging, prostitution and murder, he was eventually charged with 22 counts of tax evasion. He was found guilty on five counts and sentenced to 11 years in federal prison.
The FBI’s investigation into Capone arose following his reluctance to appear before a federal grand jury following a subpoena in March 1929.
Capone recalls in her book what life was like as a child growing up in the Capone household and shares fond memories of the man who taught her to ride a bike, swim and play the mandolin.
Capone said she knows what the “family” was really like and what the “outfit” was all about. In her tell-all book, she shares untold details, including her claims that Ralph (Al’s older brother) and Al Capone lobbied the Nevada legislature to legalize gambling, alcohol and prostitution in that state; that they were the owners of the first upscale casino in Las Vegas way before Bugsy Siegel came to Vegas; and what really happened in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
In an exclusive interview with Business News Daily, Capone offered some business tips that could have come directly from her notorious uncle:
Despite his larger-than-life impact, Capone believed employees and businesses should be humble. Businesses should keep their word, be honest with partners, and never expect a customer’s loyalty, but work hard to earn it.
In addition to the lessons Deirdre Marie Capone shares from her uncle, there are other business lessons to be learned from the notorious entrepreneur. Businesses would do well to keep the following lessons from Al Capone’s successes and failures in mind:
The best entrepreneurs draw inspiration and lessons from everything, including historical figures like Al Capone. Thanks to Capone’s niece, we have some insight into how the man viewed life and business. And even though he may be notorious for his illicit activities, some of those business lessons he left behind may be valuable to legal small business owners as they grow their companies and aim for success.