What The Boy Scouts Can Teach You About Business

Gerry Morton, President & CEO EnergyFirst

If you’re anything like me, you grew up in the Boy Scouts. All those years ago, our oath was to respond to challenges with loyalty, survival, camaraderie, trust, and of course, the words of our motto: "be prepared". Fast-forward into the future, and I’m an entrepreneur who is much like that boy in the woods, navigating an ever-changing landscape of obstacles. Through the thick and thin of business politics, use these three Boy Scout survival skills to help you navigate your entrepreneurial journey.

1. Preparation

It's important to remember that success isn't attained in a day, but is built upon consecutive trials, errors and reorganizations. By preparing for not only the successes, but also the failures, you will be ahead of the game, and poised for growth. Preparation also involves a well-rounded approach and roadmap for the journey. Find a need. Develop a network. Build a team. Identify the right people. Gather tools. Identify potential obstacles. And most importantly, remember why you are doing it. When your business springs a leak (and they inevitably do), you will have the fortitude to keep treading instead of hopelessly sinking below the surface. Optimism in the face of reality will encourage to your team to keep going.

2. Forward Thinking

Entrepreneurs are forward-thinking by nature, seeing possibilities in the barren desert of ideas. Implementing the scout ideal, you should never take things at face value. Instead of focusing only on the immediate, look several steps ahead. Otherwise, you might find yourself unintentionally walking off a cliff to your business' demise, and taking your entire team with you.

3. Integrity

Every good Scout needs a compass to navigate. I've found the Boy Scout Law to be my entreprenur’s equivalent to that compass — a personal mission statement to guide me as I proceed in business and life. In case you need a refresher, here are the key traits of the law:

· Trustworthiness
· Loyalty · Helpfulness
· Friendliness
· Courteousness
· Kindness
· Obedience
· Cheerfulness
· Thriftiness
· Bravery
· Cleanliness
· Reverence

The elements of this law are the magnetic forces that can keep a business facing north despite the bumps in the road. To this day, I’m constantly finding myself using these traits to keep my business on the right track — even when the majority of my fellow entrepreneurs seem to be going the opposite direction.

The Scouts have been turning out leaders for more than 100 years. By seeing the startup world as another trek through the woods, you can make sense of what can seem like a barrage of unending obstacles. Maintaining integrity in a cutthroat world has never been easy, but when push comes to shove, companies and leaders of character are the ones who survive. We did it then, and we can do it now.