Business Lessons From Navy SEALs

The Navy SEALs are a tough bunch of guys, who have been getting things done for the United States for a long time now.  As a Adam Kidan Navy SEALSEAL, planning a mission in special operations can take anywhere from five minutes to five days, and decision-making criteria spans a broad scope of considerations, ranging from the terrain, the situation with the enemy, the timeline set and the personnel being used.  Does this sound familiar to entrepreneurs?  I recently came across an article that talks about a 10-step approach, based off of the Navy SEAL method, to consider when entering a new market.

1. Set the intent: The intent is the purpose for which your company exists, and the difference that you imagine your product or service will make for the customer and what it will yield for you.  What makes intent different from mission or vision is that it implies being more open to change; this adaptability will be what makes your endeavor fail or succeed.

2. Assess the target: Whether you’re going into a new market, improving an existing product or crashing a party, you should build a complete understanding of the environment to help you comprehend the boundaries that constrict your potential, such as taxes, regulations, informal networks and egos.

3. Identify the objectives: These are the milestones you want to achieve to help you pursue (and realize) your intent.  Even though intent is more abstract, objectives offer direct feedback about your progress.

4. Size up the competition: When you enter your competition’s territory, you need to be ready for whatever gets thrown at you.  This means identifying and unlikely courses of action that the competition could take once they know about your presence.  If you can build a mental picture of what such courses of action could look like, it can help you reduce your team’s response time, so that they can win.

5. Evaluate the terrain: Navigating distribution, suppliers and vendors can be both tricky and costly if you can’t strategically identify the most effective way to get there and what’s best for your customers, brand and employees.

6. Determine your team: Now that you have an objective, competition and means-of-delivery identified, you need to find the right talent to help you achieve your mission.  You might want to solicit like-minded teammates, but recruiting people with diverse backgrounds will offer diverse discoveries to greater generate idea flow.

7. Maximize your resources: Even though more resources offer up greater support, capital and supplies are rarely available for startups due to cost.  You need to work with what’s at your disposal and look to acquiring more.  Resources come in various shapes and sizes, so identify the resources unique to you and leverage them towards your value proposition.

8. Plan and rehearse: The plan, as the saying goes, is nothing, but planning is everything.  Nonetheless, even with an intricately laid-out plan, the time for decisions will eventually come, so give yourself a timeline for when a decision must be made on a topic to avoid sinking into the blackhole of “analysis paralysis”.

9. Execute: The only real way to learn and improve is to apply your theory to practice.

10. Share lessons learned: After-action reports are a highly effective way to improving team learning, so compare the intended outcome with the actual results achieved to shine new light on both the known and unknown factors of the project.  With an after-action report, however, it’s essential to look at it with a proactive lens, as opposed to a retrospective one.