For a variety of reasons, many of the military members who read this site are considering leaving the military. Many of you wonder what you’ll do for a living afterward. From personal experience, I can tell you corporate culture is mostly-rotten. There are tax advantages for corporations to hire you, but more often than not you’ll do soul-killing work and be put out to pasture as you approach 50. Most corporations have cancer. Many don’t even want to hire Americans. Wages have also stagnated for the bottom 3/5ths of wage earners for the past 30 years, so corporations are paying as little as possible (and getting it from their employees). Instead, why not try to start your own training business? This business can start as a side-gig on nights and weekends and grow to provide full-time income, or you can start full-time right-away since job search can take months. Either way, as a member of the military, you likely take for granted many skills the that preparedness-minded public will pay to learn from someone with real credibility and experience like you.
The target market
Your target market is composed of several demographics I haven’t considered, but I will describe two. The first are middle-aged guys with families and disposable income but very little time to learn new skills. They want to protect their families or provide for them with a side-hustle cottage industry in their garages and backyards or simply learn a new skill with their kids. Middle-aged guys might be up for more-physical stuff in the outdoors but they’re not spring chickens but often have money. They typically have time for training on nights after the kids go to bed or weekends. They might be willing to fly in for training, but not often. Retirees, depending on their pensions, 401(k)s and expenses (and whether they’ve divorced late in life) often have even more disposable income because their kids are gone and their mortgage is paid-off. Being retirees, they often have plenty of time to learn new skills. Retirees might be more interested in shopcraft and stuff they can do with their grandkids. A certain segment are definitely in good shape, but again they’re not spring-chickens. Again, they have a lot of time and are probably more likely to fly in for training. Both demographics are not active military members, so they need a lot of coddling, hand-holding, and frequent bathroom breaks. Not only are you trying to deliver great content, but great feelings and comraderie.
Both demographics likely have a lot of stuff they don’t know how to use or use very seldom. This stuff could be highly-useful to them if they knew how to use it better. “Stuff” could include almost anything from welding equipment to woodworking equipment to guns and ammo. You can pick training topics by surveying friends and neighbors about what stuff they’d like to use better. Also take into account your local national parks, waterways, and beaches as training venues if you don’t have a lot of land. Leverage your surroundings.
With that said, possible training topics include:
- Emergency engineering, including sanitation, hasty shelter construction, water purification, and power delivery. You probably need some land if you’re going to teach hasty construction.
- first aid – there are federal agencies that provide this but you may have much more “real world” application which is extremely valuable. This can be taught in a garage or barn or outside.
- combatives, including “Left of Bang” concepts. This is going to be paydirt in the future, trust me. Even the cops are afraid to use their guns now, and most problems are better-handled by heeding pre-violence indicators and running away. Most violence you failed to avoid is a close-range ambush requiring counter-ambush combative skills. Women, children, and the elderly will need to learn these concepts. Men will not fight anymore. This can be taught in a garage or you can rent mat space from a local dojo. Often dojo owners are a bit skittish about liability.
- sleeping outside – you need land or a national or state park to teach this, but public land is your land too.
- staying warm in the wilderness – same as above
- land navigation – same as above – the REI navigation class I took was packed. Why let REI have all the business? They don’t like sportsmen or you.
- Celestial navigation – same as above, but at night – this is becoming big again since the ChiComs have figured out how to jam our satellites and celestial nav is just plain cool
- tracking – same as above
- escape and evasion
- knife making and sharpening
- Fitness – the “Over 50” market is going to be paydirt also
- Gardening – container gardening, survival gardening, etc.
- Small animal husbandry – rabbits, chickens, etc.
- Dinghy sailing – you need a bunch of Lasers and a beach with a breakwall or a harbor
- electrical work. I’m an EE but I can’t wire a house. I’d love to learn from a friend or mentor because, as an EE, I overanalyze everything.
- Bullet casting and reloading – the weapons and ammo of the future are “cottage industry.”
- Small engine repair – quads and side-by-sides are the vehicle of the future as the roads disintegrate.
- Boat repair. As Bracken explained, there are thousands of fiberglass boats tied up to piers or stored on land that can be restored and lived-on for almost nothing. Why not teach people how to lay-up fiberglass, apply gelcoat, and repair stays and rigging?
- MIG and TIG welding. I’ve paid for this instruction myself. You need a garage or shop and some welders, or you can rent a Maker Space with the same. Many Maker Spaces are hiring guys to teach welding skills.
- Anything you see being taught at a Maker Space, such as machining, woodworking, 3D printing, etc.
- Carpentry. Yep, it’s a lost art. Show people how to use a Kreg jig, brad nailer, and a track saw or chop saw. This is all stuff our dads didn’t teach us because they specialized like insects for GloboMegaCorp
- Anything in Locusts on the Horizon that you already know how to do.
Most of the skills listed above are, believe it or not, rare nowadays and there are few places to learn them. Many corporate jobs are just specialized paper shuffling jobs. Since our manufacturing base has been sent to China, no one knows how to make anything and doesn’t try because they can just load more Chinese junk into their shopping cart. People are realizing this is bad for many reasons.
Your main task is to leverage your skills and your environment to train your target demographic with great content, great feelings, and great comraderie. Don’t worry about a website or buying anything. Advertise your training on free venues like social media, Craigslist, and the NextDoor application. Charge appropriately – you are not running a charity. Your wife wants you to charge more, trust me.