Active Duty or Retired Military (Or Dependents) Owning a Business

Military training and experience, in general, does little to equip you for operating a business. Military training at many levels does prepare you to work for a business where the profit and loss (P&L) responsibilities reside with others. The reasons military training doesn't train you about P&L is because there is no profit or loss in military accounting, there are budgets and expenditures. All military management is about expenses, there is no responsibility in the military to make a profit, actually there is no concept that might relate to income outside of government appropriations to increase or decrease funds for the budgets the military puts forth to congress.

This is true for all forms of government employment, responsibilities are for managing expenditures compared to budgets. Moreover the goal is to make sure every budgeted dollar is spent so the next year's budget will be the same or more. In business the objective is to minimize expenditures whenever possible so that the profits of the business will be greater. So, military and government training are counter-productive in business when the discussion is on reducing expenditures.

However, when a military person retires s/he quickly discovers the need for expense management. Personal income drops to 50% - 75% of active duty pay and government housing is no longer an option. So, cost controls and expense management become essential for survival. Therefore, it would be a good idea for all active duty personnel or their dependents learn how to own and operate a business prior to retirement - easier said than done. Active duty personnel are always on the move from one duty station to another duty station so operating a "brick and mortar" business is difficult if not impossible.

Military and government employees need to find a business that has these three characteristics:

1. Mobility - the business can travel without loss of continuity

2. No Inventory - there is no volume of anything to be lugged around the country or world

3. Services Provided - the suppliers service the customers not the military person

Mobility is the watchword of business today. All employees and owners use the Internet to coordinate activities. Smart businesses are the ones that have figured out how to move all processes online so access is global using browser technology. This is the type of business military personnel and/or their dependents need to get involved with.

Inventory has two problems: First, dragging around boxes of stuff is just that, a drag and the goods can become obsolete overnight. Second, inventory ties up cash that is better spent developing a business. Dragging around goods that can only be converted to cash through sales that may or may not be competitive of convenient, is yesterday's marketplace strategy. Today the goal is to sell off someone else's wagon, let them drag the goods around and tie up their cash.

Once you learn how to sell off someone else's wagon the next step is to make sure that they provide the support to the customers so you don't have to. Let the supplier ship and service then you don't need to get in the middle of any issues anyone has with a product or service. You don't need to learn about the details of products and services and how they are delivered.


Tracy Emerick is a serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of marketing and sales experience. He has helped many people succeed in business using basic approaches. Tracy retired but was brought back to business due to the drop in his nest egg. At 60+ he is a congenial consultant and amiable advisor seeking the success of others through his efforts. One of his businesses may still be found at, a business that brought success to many businesses, big and small. Tracy has also...

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