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Soldiers of Fortune

"Business is a battlefield" is more than just a cliche for this company.

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This story appears in the May 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Approach Advanced Internet Technologies Inc.'s headquarters, and you'll wonder if you've got the right address. The two concrete buildings that house the Fayetteville, North Carolina, Web hosting company are protected 24/7 with cameras and alarm systems--even partially by armed guards and chain link and barbed wired fences. Founder and CEO Clarence Briggs started AIT in 1996 while still an infantry major in the Army, doing double-duty until he decided to pursue his venture full time a year later. Still, he hasn't forgotten his roots and demonstrates just how much military experience can be applied to business.

Briggs leads with the same sense of discipline and structure already instilled in him and much of his staff--80 percent have a military background, and seven of the eight senior executives have had top-secret clearance. Leadership management, good organizational skills, depth training and synchronization are four key principles he has implemented at AIT. "That's what we knew and understood," explains Briggs, 43. "It's effective, because there are a lot of similarities between the marketplace and the battlefield. You've got competitive forces, whether it's competing for resources, market share or key terrain."

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