Let’s start with the pros:

Build an income stream: You use this income now. But it will also come in handy when you separate from service.
Flexibility: When in control of your own business, you have more options when your military career ends.
Stable job to pay your bills: Most startups don’t turn a profit for quite a while. A steady paycheck can mitigate the stress of starting a business.

Now for the cons:

Limited available time: Does your active duty service give you the time needed to build a business?
Stress: Building a business isn’t easy. Do you have the bandwidth to handle the additional stress?

What Do I Need To Do To Start A Business While In The Military

Ready to start a business while in the military? Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started.

  • Choose a business structure: You’ll need to decide how the business will interact with the IRS. The choice includes sole proprietorship, C-corp, S-Corp, Limited Liability Company (LLC), and partnership.
  • Register your business: You are protecting your interests when you register your business. You might want to file for a trademark, DBA, or domain name in some cases.
  • File for Employer Identification Number: An EIN shields your Social Security Number and allows you to open a commercial bank account, pay employees, and more.
  • Get necessary permits: Depending on your business and state, you may need to apply for a license or permit.
  • Don’t forget insurance: Your business is one step away from financial disaster without insurance.
  • Separate business and personal assets: Set up a business bank account to keep the money separate.

Tips On Running A Business While In The Army

Before you dive into business ownership, consider these tips.

  • Set aside time: When learning how to start a business while working full time, you’ll quickly realize that scheduling specific times to work on your business is critical. Otherwise, it is easy to let it fall through the cracks.
  • Stay flexible: Your business will likely evolve. Don’t stand in the way of your own success.
  • Carefully consider conflicts of interest: Don’t start a business that might be construed as a conflict of interest.
  • Build an emergency fund: If you decide to take this business full-time after separation, an emergency fund will come in handy.
  • Always put the customer first: Don’t cut costs at the customer's expense.

Not Ready For Starting A Business? Military-Friendly Employers

If you aren’t quite ready to start your own business, there are still plenty of side jobs for active military. Check out these military-friendly employers:

  • Starbucks: Love coffee? This could be a great fit.
  • Domino’s: This pizza company is open to working with military members.
  • Papa John’s: Papa John’s has a reputation for setting up veteran franchise owners for success.
  • Wal-Mart: Flexible scheduling is one perk of this job.
  • Local businesses: Ask around town for businesses ready to work with military members.
  • Gig economy: Flexible side hustles like driving for Uber or delivering groceries via Instacart could be the perfect fit for your busy schedule.

The Bottom Line

Starting a business while in the military can lead to a smooth transition into civilian life. But be prepared to make sacrifices as you build your business on top of working your full-time job. Just remember that the hard work will pay off in the long run.

About the Author

Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey

Personal Finance Writer

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys helping people make better financial decisions.

More about me