Why running a startup is like playing a computer game.
I love running a startup. I love having control of all aspects of the business, and the ability to create exactly what I envision. I love everything but the financial admin; I won't pretend I enjoy admin, but it's a necessary evil. Anyway, in the last couple of months I’ve realised why I’m enjoying it so much; it’s because it’s been like a computer game.
Much like games like Theme Hospital, Football Manager and Sim City, it’s a balancing act of many factors to ensure the success of the entity you’re controlling; be it a theme park, a whole city or in my case a technology start-up. Like these simulation games, you are trying to maximise performance, whilst keeping everyone happy. Managing a budget, by juggling staff costs, development costs, marketing costs and many more. It's a mind scramble, but it's a bloody fun mind scramble.
You even level up along the journey. You start as a scrappy boot-strapper where time is abundant and money is minimal; moving to seed investment where money is available (yet stretched), but time is at more of a premium; and future rounds continue this trend of increasing available money at a cost of decreasing time.
However, unlike a typical computer game, as you progress through the game you lose control of how different aspects of the company are ran. This started by delegating the development of the platform, and I will soon be delegating account management as well. Hopefully, if everything goes well, soon I will have delegated the control of most of the company’s day-to-day jobs, that kept me so busy previously.
Whilst this might sound like a negative thing, I’m actually really looking forward to it. First of all because it would be a sign of success for the company that we have a team large enough to take over all these roles; but most importantly because it’ll give me more time to work out where the company should go next, strategizing how to take us to the next level.
I understand that comparing running a business, particularly with staff members, might sound flippant; but don't worry, I still feel an overwhelming duty of care to my staff. But it’s this childlike way of considering the challenge, that keeps a big smile on the face, and staves away the stress that might otherwise have hindered my performance of the job. Hopefully we'll level up soon and I'll have time to play the computer game version as well.
Dr. Joe Handsaker
CEO and Founder of Elements Technology
p.s Whilst looking for artwork for the post, I actually stumbled across a game called Startup Company by Hovgaard Games, which allows players to run a fictional technology startup (which is the background image for the blog image). It's available on Steam.
The trailer can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skhMYxTktD8 and it genuinely looks awesome.