The motto of the United Kingdom’s Special Air Service (SAS), probably one of the world’s best Special Operations Forces (SOF) is, “Who Dares Wins.” The history of the UK SAS, founded during World War II, is one of daring and victory across the globe.
The UK SAS are the leaders in hostage rescue, desert warfare, and jungle fighting to name only a few areas of their vast military specialties. It is easy to see how a highly trained group of commandos can view risk and risk taking seemingly with ease, but how can businesses take more risk and still succeed?
The concept to take more business risk is a counter intuitive principle to most organizations. There is a risk management industry as well as a risk management department, whose sole task is to understand, plan and mitigate risk across the entire business enterprise. So, how can taking more risk be good for business? Yet, when Apple created the iPod and iTunes, they took a great amount of business risk by launching a new device and entering an entirely new distribution channel for music. What allowed Apple to be so successful was built upon their internal strengths of great technology, simple design principles and a strong customer focus. The introduction of the Apple iPod is a SOF-like adoption of the daring to win principles that SOF teams employ.
Before military SOF teams under take high-risk operations, they slow the enthusiasm for a mission by conducting an emotionally detached, honest and intelligence driven assessment of the mission. The SOF team fully explores the mission objectives and determines if they have the training, resources and skills to accomplish the mission. One of the truly unique attributes of SOF mission planning is that personnel safety is one of the preeminent principles of a successful operation. Why? Because for SOF, highly skilled, dedicated and experienced operators are the resource in shortest supply. You can get more helicopters, weapons and ammunition easily. Getting skilled crews to fly the helicopters and operate the weapons? That can truly take years. Finally, SOF mission planning lets intelligence and open discussion guide the final decision for a mission. If the intelligence does not provide the detail to achieve the outcome, then the mission is rarely approved.
Military SOF like the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret), the U.S. Navy SEALS, the Air Force Para-Jumpers, and the U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance view and approach risk in two distinct segments: internal risk and external risk. Internal risk, how the organization trains and operates to complete its missions, is an area, just as in business, where there is an extensive risk mitigation process.
Individuals are put through an extensive selection and training process to ensure they meet the unit standards. Military operations are extensively rehearsed to ensure their success on the battlefield. New technology is tested extensively without the rigorous of combat to make sure it performs. Finally, potentially dangerous activities such as parachuting and underwater operations have rigorous standard operating procedures to ensure they are conducted as safely as possible.
In SOF, extensive internal risk mitigation procedures allow greater external risk for daring operations. SOF units are employed for high-risk external operations, such as hostage rescue, but their internal risk mitigation practices of training, planning, intelligence operations and contingency plans actually make them less risky in execution.
Examples of risky SOF operations for high reward include the raid on Osama Bin Laden and the use of Army Special Forces as the first military forces to invade Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. All of these operations contained very high external risk that was mitigated by the personnel, training, planning and intelligence analysis that eventually made the operation’s successful. High risk and high reward operations is where military SOF creates the greatest impact to a successful military campaign. By using strong internal risk mitigation and risk management principles, it allows greater success for externally risky operations where SOF has the greatest impact.
The internal and external risk frameworks apply equally well to business. The internal risk mitigation measures that most businesses have today fall into the categories of quality programs, personnel training, safety enforcement, manufacturing excellence, strong cost controls and rigorous accounting standards. These create organizations that can sustain and adapt to more risk. Externally, a business with strong internal risk mitigation measures can look for greater opportunities that appear risky, but that their internal risk controls actually mitigate much of the true risk to the enterprise.
To help businesses undertake greater risk to win, these three SOF risk techniques that can be applied to business in a simple and straightforward fashion.
Three Risk Principles Special Operations Forces Employ to Win:
Principle 1 for Internal Risk Mitigation – Train Well Beyond Your Comfort Zone. SOF training is incredibly physically and mentally demanding. The goal of all SOF combat training is to make it as indistinguishable from combat as possible so people are as well prepared as possible to succeed when they enter combat. The SOF training starts with identifying and recruiting great people and then testing them under a rigorous selection process to ensure they succeed in training. Once the best have been recruited and selected, then a series of training events bring them to the level of a honed and skilled SOF operator. Finally, personnel retention practices go hand-in-hand with training to ensure highly trained SOF personnel do not leave.
Principle 2 for External Risk Success – Identify, Anticipate and React Early to Events Critical to Your Competitors Success. In both business and the military, the classic question of “what will my competitor do” confronts both organizations at all times. In the military, intelligence and operational leaders create a “most likely” enemy operational plan of what they believe the enemy will do and then identify several critical and identifiable junctures in the estimated enemy plan. Identify these critical “action” points in a competitor’s plan then creates your own “action” points. When you see your competitor acting or about to act, you can implement a strategy to counter or mitigate your competitor’s success. For example, if you expect a competitor to open a new restaurant location, you may examine your pricing, a frequent customer card, a menu redesign or certain special menu items in the same geographic location. When your competitor’s new restaurant is about to open, you then can launch the new menu, pricing and specials to mitigate effectively your competitor’s new location opening. This is a fantastic way to stay not just one, but three or more steps ahead of the competition.
Principle 3 for External Risk Success – Create Contingency Plans to Solidify and Exploit Your Success. Few businesses create plans and operational extensions to fully exploit their success. One of the worst failures a business can have is to have a very successful product launch or a new service and then not be able to effectively expand or maintain the high levels of service that brought them the initial success. SOF teams have multiple, highly elaborate contingency plans for all parts of a special operations mission from infiltration to completing the mission objective to exfiltration from the mission area back to base. It is entirely possible to have a successful mission without exercising a contingency plan.
During the final days of World War II, a U.S. Army Ranger Battalion, a skilled behind-the-lines commando force, was tasked to find and rescue prisoners of war (POW) held in a Japanese camp. American commanders feared that the POW’s would be moved or killed before conventional American forces reached the POW’s. The Rangers conducted rapid mission planning and then set out immediately to rescue the POW’s. When the Rangers successfully seized the camp, they discovered far more POW’s that had to be moved to safety. The Rangers had created some basic contingencies and through prior coordination with friendly Philippine guerilla fighters, used ox carts to move the POW’s to safety. Contingency plans saved the day for the Ranger’s.
Being as successful as possible in risky situations is an absolute must for military SOF and business organizations alike. How successful you are in a risky situation depends directly on how well you have trained and led your organization to mitigate internal risk so you can exploit external risk into success and long-term opportunity. Business needs to use the success they have created by have a strong internal risk mitigation strategy to identify and seize external opportunities to grow their company and grow their customer satisfaction.
Original Article by Chad STORLIE (Oct 18, 2014) on www.agprofessional.com
The startup culture is full of people who want to, and try to, but just can’t get their business off the ground. Why is this the case? Much of the reason has to do with the fact that many entrepreneurs don’t know how to take their business from point A to B. Point A is that brilliant idea in the mind of the entrepreneur. B is that subsequent, hoped-for state where the business is secure, established and making money.
“In between” is tough.
In terms of strategies, one of the best ways to build your business is to take that idea in your head to market as soon as possible. Because delays kill. Speed saves. Here are ten tips on how you can launch your startup faster.
In my experience, it’s more important to start than to start right. Think about it. If you don’t start your business, nothing will happen. Whatever it is that’s keeping you from launching is the very thing you either need to ignore or tackle head-on. So . . .
There is nothing standing in the way of your starting your business except yourself. Do the first thing that needs to be done.
There are some entrepreneurs who know exactly what they want to sell. There are other entrepreneurs who have no idea what they’re going to sell. They just want to sell something. Here’s my advice: Sell anything.
Many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs aren’t selling anything new. They are selling it different or better:
Entrepreneurs aren’t always innovators. You can take someone else’s product and sell it. Richard Branson, after all, launched Virgin Airlines in desperation. He was headed to the Virgin Islands for an, um, romantic interlude. But his flight was cancelled. So, he chartered a private flight, despite his lack of money to pay for it. Here’s how he described what happened next:
I picked up a small blackboard, wrote “Virgin Airlines. $29” on it and went over to the group of people who had been on the flight that was cancelled. I sold tickets for the rest of the seats on the plane, used their money to pay for the chartered plane and we all went to the Virgin Islands that night.
Got the message? Go ahead and sell something. Anything.
When you start a business, you will most definitely not have all the answers. For example, you’ll need to get incorporated, but how? S-Corp, C-Corp or LLC?
To get these answers, ask a competent attorney. The attorney will provide advice — say it’s to start an S-Corp. But, then what? Ask the attorney to do it for you. Instantly, you will have gained an expert who is implementing his/her own advice for your money. Payment? You can reward the attorney with stocks or deferred payment.
When an issue arises, and you don’t have the answer, find someone who does. Then, when this expert gives you advice — whether business best practice, manufacturing locations, logo design, accounting, whatever — ask that person to do it.
Your business needs more help, knowledge and professional skills than you have time for. Get people to work for you.
If you want to find the best and most affordable talent, you may not find it next door. Be willing to hire remote workers to get great work done.
Becoming an employer carries with it a lot of baggage. It may, in fact, form such a barrier that it slows down the process of your startup. Besides, few people will be willing to take the plunge to become the employee of a tenuous startup.
Instead of hiring employees, hire on a contract basis. The point is, you need to find a way to get the talent to provide their services. Don’t let the specific arrangement get in the way of getting stuff done.
I couldn’t have founded my businesses without my cofounder Hiten Shah. For me, starting a business took more than just hard work and passion. It took the inspiration and skills of a cofounder. VCs are more likely to invest in a startup that has a founding team, not a founding individual. Even having three cofounders isn’t too many, assuming you have a clear decision-making hierarchy.
Cofounders can provide the skills you lack, and take you further than you ever expected you’d go.
One of the reasons why Steve Jobs was able to grow Apple into one of the world’s most innovative and valuable brands was because he pushed people. Here’s how he described his management approach.
My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better. My job is to pull things together from different parts of the company and clear the ways and get the resources for the key projects. And to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better, coming up with more aggressive visions of how it could be.
Sure, Jobs could be aggressive and unkind, but he could also draw out from people better than they thought their best could ever be. You can find the same qualities in a cofounder, a partner, a friend, a mentor or an employee. More importantly, you can provide the same level of expectation for your own team members. As Jobs said, “By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things.”
Creative Bloq has this gem of advice regarding startups: “Don’t necessarily worry about where an income will come from. A good product/service will always find a way to make money.”
This is true. A myopic focus on money can pull your business off track. Whether it’s funding, capital, business loans or the perfect pricing model, back off and let things evolve. Growth doesn’t equal funding. Growth means hacking, straining, selling and doing things other than asking for money.
Marketing is one of the best things that you can do for your business. When you market your product or service, you are getting it in front of the people who will actually buy it. Marketing is not a waste of time. It’s one of the best early investments that you can make in your business.
A startup does not exist in the entrepreneur’s mind alone. A startup exists in the landscape of customers and potential customers.
If there will be people buying or using your product, you need to learn all you can about these people, from these people and for these people. Your business will live or die based on their receptivity to the product or service.
The sooner you learn about your customers, the faster you’ll be able to pivot and serve them better.
Starting fast doesn’t mean that you should force scaling. Scaling is something that happens carefully, in a measured cadence.
Starting fast means that you leverage all possible resources to focus on one thing — getting started. Getting started is the main thing. Once your business is up and running, anything else is possible.
A startup is a race. The faster you are, the more likely you are to win big.
Neil PATEL’s article published on Entrepreneur.com website