We recently made our list of games that allow you to virtually be a boss, because you know, we aren’t bosses in real life. At least, not yet.
Being media involved with the startup scene, we hear a lot of tips and tricks being thrown around on what it takes to sustain a business in and out.
So the team behind Vulcan Post decided to put ourselves to the test and give the game Business Inc. a go. You essentially play the role of a startup founder and are given various instructions on how to keep your business alive. Sounds simple, which was what we initially thought too.
In the end, it turned out we (okay, most of us) sucked.
[Editor’s Note: Obviously the editor and managing editor did well.]
But despite our brutal losses, there were a few things we could take from this. Here are some things we learned from our brief experience as virtual startup founders (that have also put us off from taking the actual route in real life too).
1) Choose your investments wisely.
A mistake we all made when playing this game is getting too excited upon seeing our funds go up. Like with any other game, I was pretty happy to see cash flowing in quite well and the more the numbers of my revenue grew, the more I felt like I was in complete power of my business.
Once you’ve gotten enough cash, the game provides you the option of upgrading your office to make room for more employees. I assumed that more people working for me equals to my company earning more money. Who doesn’t want that?
So I invested into the upgrade for a fancier office.
After that, my cash immediately depleted because of unforeseen circumstances such as parents suddenly demanding I lend them some money or having to pay back loans. Before I knew it, I was declared bankrupt.
Thank God this is just a game. I don’t think I’d ever be able to see my money drop to its last coin without having a heart attack.
2) Competition should not be underestimated.
One thing I immediately forgot about when starting the game was my competition.
How the game shows you the competition you’re facing is through a red bar on the project you’re working on. Think of it as a thermometer to the dangers you face if you don’t treat it. The higher the bar goes up, the more your competition is close to beating you.
So having lots of red on your project? Not good.
I didn’t notice that until it was too late. I focused so much on trying to build up my team and my own self that I didn’t bother keeping tabs with them, assuming that it was fine as long as money is rolling in.
I was wrong.
One thing I should have taken note of was their working speed. Once you start a project, the game gives you a notice on how long it’ll take before the competition starts to overtake you. At first you feel at ease because they try to give the impression that the competition will catch up to you in months so you have time.
Don’t fall for that because when that happens, consider your business packed and ready to be disposed of. At that point, you lose money like water so the only course of action would be to terminate the project and move on to another. Which sucks, but that’s actually some of the reality startups in our ecosystem face.
Never let your competitor stay ahead while you wilt away behind. It is not a fun feeling.
3) Invest in your employees the RIGHT way.
Oh boy, hiring employees. Never knew it was difficult until I played this game.
How it goes is that you’re given profiles of people where the tab shows their age, interests and a brief history of their personality. So you’re hiring based on this which is pretty realistic in my opinion, considering founders have only CVs and resumes to depend on when hiring a new employee.
You start off by only being able to hire two people so they better be worth the money. The employees also have levels which indicate the higher their status, the better they are. But remember, that also means the salary you’re paying them is higher too. New profiles come up quite often so you’re not short for choices.
Little cheat fact, I had to restart the game a few times to get the better profiles. Shh, don’t tell anyone.
Then comes the other factors of investing in your employees and this is important.
You need to focus on training them up and making sure their skills are good to send them off for projects. There are usually two options. You can opt for the cheaper one that raises their skill bar slightly or choose to spend more funds and boost their statistics higher. It all depends on which you consider a better investment.
You could also give them some incentives to boost their motivation but after playing this game, I found out that giving bonuses to them is a much smarter business sense than raising their pay.
The only time that is best to raise their pay is when they ask for it and even then, you need to think carefully if it’s worth it. Some of these employees may not be performing as well as you’d hope for but they’re thick-skinned enough to believe their skillsets are worth more than what they’re getting.
I’m looking at you Genofwena, and your frequent asks for higher pay when your efforts are not worth it. How do startup founders handle this?
4) Choose the right battles.
The main way the game teaches you to gain money is by giving you projects to work on. At first, you’ll be excited at the prospects of seeing so many projects listed that you think you can do multiple ones at once. Save yourself the trouble and get rid of that thought entirely.
Despite it being tempting, you should never try to do too many things at once. Not every project that appears needs to be taken up. The game is good in notifying you when a project is newly listed but that in no way forces you to assign your workers to it.
It’s always best to choose properly, evaluate the statistics and background first, check to see if you have enough manpower and lastly, predict if the competition won’t be too bad.
One thing to also think about is whether it is smart to focus your staff all on one project or split them into different ones. This comes as a problem when you have limited manpower and you’re trying to juggle too many projects at once which usually backfires completely.
So best to be a little tactical with this and plan out your strategy on making sure projects can still run with sufficient manpower.
If even one project faces any delays or problems, then you’re pretty much screwed. Better luck next time!
5) Always monitor your cash flow.
One thing I enjoyed about these games is that they’re always nice to take your time with. It’s not constrained enough that you feel you’re required to open the game at all times, the cash flow can still run if you press the option to.
However, if you fail to pay attention to your cash flow, you’re in for trouble.
Manage resources wisely and make sure to watch the inflow and outflow of your cash like a hawk. I had to learn this the hard way by wasting some money on projects that weren’t doing well. By the time I realised, the project was giving me no cash flow in for months and was in fact sucking up my precious resources.
This of course made a huge dent in my expenses. Goodbye, pretty office.
Be diligent with this because one bad project is enough to ruin your cash flow for good.
So yes, these are things that we learnt from this game. It was a true-to-life experience, I can say that.
I enjoyed the realism behind it because the conditions and requirements it takes to successfully run a business taught me a lot of things, even those that I can apply in real life.
The main one is that I am in no shape or form to ever consider myself for a role as a startup founder. Too many employees were getting angry at me and projects were failing left and right. It was a disaster.
Fortunately in the game, there’s a restart option. So whenever things don’t go your way, it comes off as easy because all you need to do is press that and you’re done. But in real life, it’s not as straightforward. You can still start afresh, but it’s harder since in real life you have actual resources being used.
So think smart, think big and think like a businessman. Then you’ll probably last longer in the game than I did.
Feature Image Credit: pandasecurity.com