Hang out with entrepreneurs long enough and you notice patterns.
At StreetShares, we fund thousands of veteran-owned small businesses. I’ve noticed many successful veteran-owned small businesses are run by veterans from elite special operations units. These elite units include the Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”), Marine Corps’ MARSOC (formerly “Force Recon”), Army Rangers, and others. Units like this are selective and tough. The warriors in these units are highly trained and, as a result, they are given liberties and discretion that other military units do not have.
Special Operations units like Derek’s Marine Force Recon are defined by 4 unique characteristics:
- They work in small and elite teams in high-pressure environments
- They work outside traditional systems and paradigms
- They work in secret and silence, and
- They use nontraditional, interdisciplinary tactics
At Merica Bourbon, Derek’s strategy is to provide an award-winning bourbon product that “even a Private in the military can afford,” Derek told me. Derek has nailed the quality: Merica Bourbon won a silver medal at the Whiskies of the World Awards in 2017. That’s a big deal. Yet, true to his roots, Derek aims to also keep his bourbon affordable. But achieving high quality at an affordable price is a challenging task.
To win, Derek needs an edge. His edge is to apply three special military tactics to business ownership – tactics he learned from his time in Marine Force Recon.
Tactic #1: Conduct Structured Reconnaissance: The SALUTE Report
A key element of special operations is conducting reconnaissance.
Reconnaissance is the process of careful observation of the enemy or terrain to inform military decision-making. As a Force Recon Marine, Derek used “SALUTE Reports” as a reconnaissance tool. SALUTE is an acronym for the elements the reconnaissance team is to observe (the Size, Activity, Location, Unit, Terrain, and Equipment of the enemy). This structured reporting tool provides focus for the team conducting reconnaissance. SALUTE Reports operate as a checklist to ensure the military team does not miss any critical element of enemy activity. Finally, a SALUTE report provides an organized framework for communicating the team’s observations back to headquarters.