Tribal enterprises can be the engine of growth for many Native communities, but these are challenging times for those enterprises. For every step a Tribal enterprise moves forward, a multitude of threats rise up with each having the power to push it back. Some Tribal enterprises follow the signposts along the way that guides them and they move down the road toward sustainability. Others remain stuck, continually struggling against unforeseen obstacles. Some enterprises are mired in political battles. Some are reactively chasing every opportunity that presents itself. And some accept projects without the capacity to complete successfully.

Native businesses do not operate like non-native enterprises in the same way as Tribal governments do not function like local, state and federal government. Indian people generally see the world from a different point-of-view. Native organizations not only differ from the non-native, but they also differ from each other. Each Tribal enterprise has its own unique set of characteristics that defines them. They may have different cultures, visions, goals, resources, capabilities, and advantages.

Research, observation, and our own experience have revealed the characteristics of those Tribal enterprises that make real progress and those that stagnate financially. By understanding what works and what does not, a Tribal business can navigate the road ahead with more clarity in their decision making.