As a former Navy SEAL, I am often blown away at how much of my military training and experience translates perfectly into the business world. I remind people all the time that I lack a fancy MBA or business degree and often find myself falling back on the lessons learned during my nine years as a SEAL to continue the trajectory and growth of my business, Bottle Breacher. Members of the special operations community pride ourselves in doing more with less and being very disruptive, and we cherish our ability to quickly adapt and move with lightning speed. Here are a few tried-and-true concepts that we rely on to crush our enemies on the battlefield and why you should consider adopting them in your business.
Keep it simple.
In many action movies, it is very common to see commandos executing dangerous and very complex missions that incorporate very difficult skill sets that all must go exactly according to plan. Though these high-speed action plots are entertaining, the truth of the matter is that they are not realistic or effective at all. In special operations, we often utilize the acronym KISS: Keep it simple stupid. The more difficult and intricate any plan becomes the more risk it takes on and the higher the chance of major catastrophe or overall mission failure increases.
I’ve noticed a direct correlation in the private sector. As a leader, if you routinely default to keeping your strategies and plans simple then it will be much easier for your team to not only remember the overall objective on a daily basis but to also have the flexibility to problem solve when unforeseen issues and problems arise. They will thank you for it, and on your way to mission success you will probably avoid a lot of chaos and confusion along the way.
For those out there that watched my wife and I go into the Shark Tank, crush our pitch and then successfully secure a deal with Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary, you might have picked up on this key strategy. I told the cameras following our deal that we went into the tank seeking two sharks. I learned over many years in special operations how important redundancy is. We have a saying in the SEAL teams: One is none, two is one. This mentality is focused entirely on being prepared and expecting the unexpected. As special operators, we never went on an operation with one gun, one GPS, one set of night vision goggles or one map of the target. We always had a backup for everything; we knew that things would break or malfunction. We always had multiple insertion and extraction routes to and from the target because we had learned through experience that things do not always go as planned and often you must switch to an alternative method or route to continue the mission.
How does this apply to entrepreneurs, you may be asking? You must always be thinking about building redundancies or backups into every part of your business. You must constantly ask yourself, what do I do if this key person quits or gets ill? What is the plan if this vendor goes out of business? What happens if this company hosting my website is not able to handle a huge spike in traffic due to a national television promotion? You get the idea. Don’t get caught off guard, and never become complacent. Constantly think about worst case scenarios and how you are going to be ready to deal with them and move on.
Stay on the offensive.
I do believe that I saved the best for last. If you want to run your business like a special operator you must always stay on the offensive. You must take the fight to your competition. Before my deployments, I would remind my loved ones that though I was going to be doing some very dangerous work in some very dangerous places that the risk wasn’t as great as they assumed. What they did not understand was that because I was a SEAL and we were usually on the offensive, choosing when and where we fought, that we were actually a lot safer than many soldiers and marines overseas that were fulfilling defensive type roles.
You all have heard the saying the best defense is a good offense. There is a lot of truth to this logic. Entrepreneurs who spend most of their time watching the industry leaders and then reacting to their moves and trying to replicate them in a superior manner are way behind the power curve. I tell my staff all the time that the reason we move at the speed we do is because I want to stay four to five steps ahead of the competition. I want them reacting to us!
We have all heard that business is war. If you believe this then take some of these lessons learned from the battlefield and find ways to work them into your operations. I guarantee you that you will not regret it. You might actually find yourself reading military field manuals to see what other combat strategies you can employ next.