If you’re a veteran, you already know the basic principles of starting up a new business.
For the last two weeks, I have been participating in the Stanford Ignite program for veterans. Through meeting with some incredible professors, entrepreneurs and business leaders, what I’ve learned has only reinforced my belief that former service members are well-suited for the business world.
Management Professor Charles Holloway, who spent time in the U.S. Navy after college, made the point most vividly during a lecture about Total Venture Design. Under this process, entrepreneurs design a product iteratively, using ongoing experimentation and adaptation to change as they see how consumers react.
Total Venture Design is a complex set of tasks that requires: 1) the ability to define and accomplish a mission; 2) focus and determination; and 3) leadership. If you’re a veteran, that should sound familiar.
As Holloway pointed out, our training and experience in the military puts us ahead of entrepreneurs who are trying to develop those same skills while also designing and launching a new business venture.
Our guest lecturer was Dan Gordon, co-founder of the Gordon Biersch brewery. He explained how he and his partner built a bustling enterprise from nothing, using an iterative process to determine the best course of action—exactly what we do in the military with every mission. One key takeaway from his lecture was that everyone makes mistakes, and the key is to bounce back from them and be resilient. That’s a lesson that every member of the military has had to learn at some point, sometimes at a great cost.
On a lighter note, I took advantage of my time here this past weekend to test out the Stanford University golf course, where Tiger Woods once played. During my playing, I realized that golf, too, is like Total Venture Design. It requires planning what you want to do, identifying what isn’t working and quickly iterating until you achieve success. I definitely have the first two down pat in my golf game, though it may be a while before I achieve the third!