Military Lessons for Modern Business People

We’ve all heard the old trope, “business is war”.  But is it? And if it is, what can we learn from the military throughout history? Welcome to Part I of a multipart series (II, III, IV) on the similarities and differences between business and warfare.

From the outset, do let me say that the best and clearest difference between business and warfare is the lack of violence.  Business objectives ought always to reinforce the economy, not attempt to blow it to smithereens.

Was War Profitable?

Would it surprise you very much to learn that from the ancient world up until 1914 AD, warfare has ALWAYS been about making money? It’s true.  When farming and agriculture represented the main form of economic activity engaged in by most people, wars started to get more land.  More land meant more ability to extract surplus wealth from that land through taxes or rents.

In addition, prior to 1914, war showed a much higher ROI than investing into improving already held lands.  Plowing capital investment into land improvement maybe got a 5% or 10% ROI immediately. It was risky, given than people couldn’t predict how draining land or enriching poor soil would pan out in the end. Investing into taking those people’s land over there usually got an immediate 50% ROI at minimum IF the attack was successful. In addition, everyone could see which farms were already producing, and at what capacity.  The risk of the investment solely lay in “can we win?”

Is War Profitable Now?

In a word, no.  The rise of industrialism affected the ROI of both infrastructure investment and warfare to an unprecendented degree. In today’s world, the cost of post industrial warfare is so horrific, so terrible, that no profit is even possible from it.  Meanwhile, the ROI of infrastructure investment multipled by orders of magnitude.

After the Industrial Revolution, factories became the source of the greatest production instead of farms.  Any war fought to gain a factory probably destroys that factory.  If the military action destroys the thing that’s wanted, why didn’t everyone just stay home and build the factory on their own land in the first place?

In our modern world, the only reason to go to war is to protect from extreme losses. The cost of post industrial warfare is so horrific and long lasting, fighting one is stupid and silly when we could have just built perfectly functional businesses at home and made more wealth for everyone.

That being said, the same structure used to run an army can also work well for how to run a business.

What Can We Learn From The Military?

In our modern context, military history through the ages offers a wealth of lessons for entrepreneurs.  We’ll discuss differences between strategy, operations, and tactics.  We’ll take these from their original settings to discuss how they shift when discussing business.  We’ll also talk about the necessity of good communications, a subset of both operations and tactics.

When an entrepreneur understands their goals, obstacles, assets, and detriments well enough, plans practically create themselves.  When small businesses comprehend themselves and the competition, strong and weak points jump out in sharp relief.

Military history holds a wealth of wisdom for entrepreneurs today.  It’ll be fun getting into it!

Ready For A Top Notch VoIP Business System?

Looking for the best equipment for your campaign?

Here at NoContractVoIP, we create custom business phone systems offering a full suite of hybrid and remote solutions for your telecom needs. We rely on your success and we know it.

We never lock our clients into long term contracts.  If you dislike our services or support, just tell us to cancel and we take care of it.  No early termination fees, nobody gets stuck for years on end, and we’re motivated to keep our clients thriving.

All of our tech support people live and work near our headquarters in California, and tech support always answers 24/7/365. Our billing and customer support work from the same office. When you call you get a human, not a menu.

To get the latest helpful content delivered to your inbox every month, subscribe to our newsletter here.

Featured Image Credit

Leave a Comment