Business Development in a War Zone – the 3 Rules

No BD meeting should start out like this

“The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets”. So said John D. Rockefeller who was at the time the richest man the world had ever known.

That’s a war-zone he’s talking about.

But working in a war-zone (Iraq) I watched people come and go trying to turn a buck. And I learned these 3 rules.




1. Do not go to the war-zone. There is no money there for you.

2. Find out how much your government is spending on the war-ravaged country and on what.

3. Lobby your government to spend some of the money on your company.


Let’s take an example. Say your company prints school books and your government wants to give schoolbooks to the educational establishment of a war ravaged country. The money for the schoolbooks will be spent in the donor country, not in the war ravaged country. Same for shipping, insurance, storage and so on.

Apart from anything else, nobody in a war zone has the time, the energy, the money or the capability to do anything else but run for cover.

And. The government of a war-ravaged country sucks in money, it doesn’t give any out. If you turn up at their door the assumption is that you’re there to give them something for free.


No place for businessmen


Returning to John D. Rockefeller’s quote – it doesn’t say you have to be in the street where the blood is running to make the money.





However if you feel you really should go to the war-zone, here are a few tips.

Get serious about security. Do not accept offers of security from local entities. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you’ and ‘It’s not really dangerous here’ are two things you’ll hear – a lot.

Take a substantial amount of wet-wipes with you. The biggest ones you can find. If there’s no water you can still get clean and toilet facilities may be rudimentary.

Take a plug for the shower/ bath/ basin (if you’re lucky enough to find one with running water).

Take a pack of Brufen 800 and a jar of Vick. Vick is a powerful antiseptic and not just for colds.

Wear shoes you can run in.

Wear the cheapest watch you own.

Check your life insurance. It will probably exclude war-zones (and that’s telling you something).

Plan your trip to the smallest detail and do not vary from that plan, ever.