There is a storm brewing across this nation. A wonderfully loud cacophony of voices which refuse to go silent - the rumble of a movement not heard since the 1950's. After having changed the world on the distant battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, returning veterans are leaving the military only to find their nation being held hostage under economic siege.As consummate students of history, we veterans understand what made America the powerhouse it once was -- entrepreneurship. Those willing to accept risks and move forward with tenacity and resolve are the ones who ultimately created a nation of growth and prosperity. Many veterans, including myself, have chosen to become entrepreneurs. To self-describe we have coined the term Vetrepreneurs.Now the rumble of Vetrepreneurs is spreading through every city and town in America. From the rural hamlet to urban centers, they are seeking each other out and creating high-impact teams; teams that know what the "bottom line" means. The Vetrepreneur is the key to success in a prosperous American future. Thankfully, the military has given us the skills, knowledge and, attitude needed to become a success.My goal as a Marine, and former infantryman is to show how other grunts can put their knowledge to good use in the modern workforce. The processes used to plan and execute a combat mission carry over to the business side of our post-military career and lives. All that's needed is some simple reinterpretation and lateral thinking.Here's how those skills apply.BAMCIS:Begin the planArrange the reconMake the reconComplete the planIssue the orderSupervise
1) Begin the Plan: Living with a Purpose
Everyone needs to find their mission in life. For Veterans pursuing entrepreneurship, this means finding a niche -- discovering a problem that they are passionate about solving. They see a need and want to fill it. Many times this is done in a "vacuum" by one person who has an idea. That one person needs to form a team to take an idea from concept to reality. Veterans have the advantage of an extensive network of highly efficient people. Veterans also understand how to work together within their strength based roles - exactly what is needed for success on the modern corporate battlefield.
2) Arrange the reconnaissance: Market Research
Figuring out what to measure is often more challenging than actually measuring it. To gain insights into the habits of a marketplace, entrepreneurs need to plan for a "Feedback Patrol." This patrol is part of the overall business planning. Talking with people in the targeted area, asking questions and, most importantly, listening to people, can give valuable insights on a first-hand basis before actively selling to the population.
How to prep for a "Feedback Patrol"If you are going to lead a patrol to the west, you don't want to talk with the guys who just patrolled to the east. You need to gather fresh intelligence from adjacent units who are working or have just got done working in the same area of operation. This isn't a new concept. For years companies have been compiling data on the individuals they wish to sell to. The difference with the veteran entrepreneur is they know how to coordinate with adjacent units. As warfighters, they have had to gather intel from other patrol leaders to paint a picture of the battlespace in as close to 'real-time' as possible. This is a routine thing in the veteran's old world. Adjacent squad leaders at the non-commissioned officer level learn how to do this from the time they enter service.This makes it easy to create an image of the targeted market using the five Ws Who, What, When, Why, and HOW. + Who wants your product or service?+ What does your target market typically seek out? (Skills? References? Services?)+ When are they more apt to purchase?+ Why does your market purchase a good or a service?+ Where is the market?+ HOW do they shop or seek out products, goods or, services. Entrepreneurs should access the network to speak with other veteran business owners to gain intel. This knowledge is invaluable when out on a "Feedback Patrol." The intelligence gathered goes into a market analysis to determine fit for the good, product or service to be offered. IF the market appears to be strong, a SWOT analysis is conducted on all the major competitors in various sized niches within the market. Once completed, the entrepreneur has a clear picture of the market fit and competition within the market they wish to attack. Now it’s time to conduct the recon.
3) Do the reconnaissance; Get Outside of the Building
Actively engage with the marketplace. Entrepreneurs must get up and speak to their target market. During the 'Arrange the Recon' phase, entrepreneurs needed to predict the 5 W's. to help organize the approach needed when engaging the target base. Using that intel, the entrepreneur creates a plan for conducting market reconnaissance. The biggest difference between traditional businesses and veteran run organizations is that veterans, are more prone to, share intel and engage within their area of operation and strength set. Whereas "traditional" business leaders tend to be more closed; to block out competition. Veterans are typically better communicators - they work well with one another while still accomplishing a different, mission. It is critical that entrepreneurs get out there and engage with one another so that each mission can be understood, refined and, supported.In a battlefield setting an example would be the Marine Corps infantry and Army Rangers.Both operate with an elite battlefield presence and strike through the violence of action. However, the respective battlefield roles are very different. Rangers are a special operation with a focused mission.The Rangers' primary mission is to engage in close combat and direct-fire battles" (http://www.army.mil/ranger/).The mission of a Marine Infantryman is to:locate, close with and, destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and repel the enemy's assault by fire and close combat." (http://www.marines.com/being-a-marine/roles-in-the-corps/ground-combat-element/infantry)By working together, these forces have a better chance at success in their separate missions. This factor for success is ingrained in veterans and works to their advantage. While traditional business leaders may be trying to stave off competition, veterans have banded together under an age-old adage, "together we stand, divided we fall."**Note** While on a "Feedback Patrol," each member of the team needs to actively be an observer just as you would on combat patrol. Remember, every patrol member is an observer; the littlest detail from private Schmeckatelly could win the war.
4) Complete the Plan; Key Leaders, Key Concepts
Compile the business plan after arranging and doing the recon. Include the market analysis, and SWOT analysis. All the financial intelligence gathered is included (in the appendix) and sited throughout the plan. The team has gone out to engage the actual target population on a "Feedback Patrol." Now the executive summary can be completed, highlighting the significant points throughout the overall plan. It is daunting to think of sitting down and writing a business plan. Entrepreneurs have a way of tackling the largest tasks and breaking them down incrementally. Such is the case when planning operations. The 'Five Paragraph Order,' used for planning military operations, is a vital tool to the veteran entering entrepreneurship. It provides only pertinent information in a detailed and concise way.While writing the plan, each team member prepares for the next evolution. They all, understand their role within the team but they may not have a clear understanding of what the overall mission is going to be; only their team’s capabilities and the needs of the targeted population.Now the entrepreneur has to round out the plan and gather feedback from others, including outside of the team to trusted advisers. Those veterans who have gone before are standing ready to help with this area of the planning process. The veteran network is huge - DO NOT hesitate to call upon one another for supporting arms.Some of the best resources for veterans aspiring to become entrepreneurs is EBV; Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities and Bunker Labs. The EBV course is an intensive program developed to train veterans in a fast-paced environment. Bunker Labs provides a place for veteran business leaders to work side-by-side while developing and growing their businesses. They each provide the tools and network needed to succeed as an entrepreneur.
5) Issue the order; clear, concise, to the point
This is where veterans have yet another advantage, in how they communicate. By nature, they clearly and concisely convey their message in thoughtful and deliberate manner. Veterans identify themselves, their team and, their mission, along with the vision; they then commit wholly and unnervingly to the action which will make that plan a reality.The same goes in entrepreneurship. Every team member needs to understand the business plan and the operating agreement as set by the team. Developing an operating and business plan takes conscious and consistent effort - it is not stumbled upon. It is an agreed upon arrangement which, requires mindful and deliberate discussion about how the venture will grow and succeed; and how you will split up if a “business divorce” does occur. This mature mentality ensures everyone has a 'warm and fuzzy feeling' before stepping outside of the wire on an actual work basis; in this case, an example would be a trade show event is taking place or a sales call needs to be made. During a business plan pitch, the entrepreneur provides the audience with all the elements of the business and the supporting evidence to back up the assumptions made through the financial statements and pro forma. The pitch needs to be a well laid out op order for how you envision things are going to run.**Note: It is important to acknowledge that any corporate task or otherwise can be met with this proven combat approach. The processes used to plan and execute a combat mission carry over to the business side of the house. All that's needed is some simple interpretation.**
6) Supervise; Small Unit Leadership Wins Wars
The military trains personnel to manage their team with a mission-first mentality. Managing people requires young leaders to better understand the individuals with which they are working. In learning how to follow and work as a team, they learn how to lead the overall team. Members of infantry units, especially Marines, cross train in multiple jobs in case they need to pick up another's role in the fight. Radio operators need to know how to work a squad automatic weapon just as much as grunts need to know how to work a radio and call for support. Each needs to have a base level of proficiency to work off of, and training never stops.Young veterans are an excellent skilled workforce that knows how to get the job done efficiently and on schedule. Many veterans entering entrepreneurship are turning to their former team members and constructing new collaborative efforts. Their high impact teams are actively looking to collaborate and coordinate with one another to accomplish a unified mission of rebuilding this wonderful nation of ours. Supervising these teams means providing its members with all of the tools they need to succeed, then empowering them to achieve greatness in the face of adversity. Something the average veteran is used to.The use of tools, processes and military combat training is what kept us alive while down range on patrol. Those same processes come in handy when hooking and jabbing in the business world. Get a plan, get with your brothers and sisters, and commit to changing the world once more.