Entrepreneurship has never been as important as it is today, both for individuals and companies. At one point, almost each of my friends had an idea to start their own businesses, but rare are those who actually did something about it. Some of them gave up because they didn’t have enough courage and others because they didn’t have enough resources.
There are lots of books and text about entrepreneurship and many people talk about it, but to build the necessary skills that will help you become a good entrepreneur, you need training or real life experience.
After almost ten years of being an entrepreneur, when I look back I see that the key factor that had helped me to systematize my experiences and knowledge before I started the company, were days (and nights) spent on “the simulator for entrepreneurs” called “Heroes of Might and Magic 3”.
Here are the most important lessons about entrepreneurship I have learned by playing this amazing game:
1) Resources are limited
HoMM3 insight: If you are not careful with woods, gold, gems, stones, etc. you might find yourself in a situation where your town gets stuck at a certain level of development, or you are not able to purchase armies in a critical moment.
No matter if you are a one-man band, or you have few people in your company, you still need to ensure that all the aspects of your business are stable: finances, logistic, products, marketing, sales, etc. My experience shows that in the early stages of business development entrepreneurs tend not to pay attention to all business aspects, and that is the reason why some of them stay undeveloped for a long time. Remember that you need to find a way to support all aspects of your business and especially pay attention to finances. Staying alive is the most important thing for a start-up, and cash problems kill more young companies than all other causes.
2) Invest in your business
HoMM3 insight: You need to invest in your city if you want to have Titans, Angels or Dragons in your army. Top-ranked armies make a difference on the battlefield. The side that gets them first gains the advantage over the opponents.
After the first wins, many entrepreneurs tend to use companies’ money to buy car, flat, fancy clothes, etc., instead of further investing in business. If you don’t continue to invest in your business, soon you might face the situation where your business doesn’t grow anymore. Maybe you will get a new flashy car but without talented employee or upgraded version of your product, your business might suffer.
I established the NLP Center in 2008, and in 2010 my business got into the first stable state. In May 2010 I received two tempting offers, one was the BMW 320, and the other a contract with Persona Global. I didn’t have enough money for both, and moving from Peugeot 307 with 200.000Km to BMW sounded great. Actually, all my friends, even the future business partner in Atria Group, advised me that BMW was a good deal while Persona was something that looked risky. I don’t know if choosing Persona was a good decision, as I still don’t drive BMW 🙂 Remember that the business puts you in a position to choose between further investment and a car and not the opposite.
3) Keep your focus
HoMM3 insight: Knowledge without Spell Power is nothing. It looks attractive to have broad knowledge and many spells. But unless your spells don’t have the strength, you will not get anywhere.
Wide portfolio of programs and products is cool, but at the beginning, you need to have focus. Unless you put all the attention on your main product (or service), you might easily face a situation where you start ten projects and finish none of them, or where you are not clear what your core business is. A common mistake in coaching business is that 9 out of 10 coaches don’t choose their business niche. They think that if they promote themselves as generalists, they can cover bigger market. That’s true, but at the same time it’s true that with this approach:
- from the client’s position, a new coach on the market will be “just one of the many”
- the message that they communicate will not be clear and marketing resources and energy will be spread to many different topics
- the direction for further development won’t be clear.
Put the focus on your primary business niche, and ignore the rest (at least at the beginning).
4) Take smart actions on a daily basis
HoMM3 insight: Don’t waste your time on artefacts, resources and fights that are not necessary.
You need action, and not just any action, but smart action. No matter what your business is, only through daily action you gain experience. If you don’t act, someone else will. Get ready for action if you want your business to grow. Be ready for multi-front battle because you will have to face administration, banks, suppliers… even your spouse who complains that you spend more time at work than at home. Your business does not need men, women or titles. It needs warriors ready for daily action!
5) Manage your time well
HoMM3 insight: If you attack and conquer a city at the beginning of the week you will need to wait 3 or 4 days to get new resources and new armies from the city.
“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance
6) Always double check before you start high effort activities
HoMM3 insight: Avoid rough terrain and ensure that logistics is functioning well. If you have a castle on the rough terrain, it will be very difficult to move around. Keep your hero on the main roads to help him move faster. Buy other heroes who will walk around discovering the map and collecting resources.
Be careful with your investments (time and money) and always double check before you get involved into the high effort project. High effort means that it requires lots of resources (time, money or your energy). Quick wins are more than welcome, especially if you are a start-up.
7) Damping is a strategy as any other, just be aware how it will affect you and the surrounding businesses
HoMM3 insight: Once you have Black Dragons you can use Armageddon spell. Black Dragons are immune to all fire spells including Armageddon. That means that all armies on the battlefield (except Black Dragons) will strongly be affected by this spell.
If you want to use damping strategy you need to ensure that you have “Black Dragon” in your portfolio. A product or service that will survive or that will not be affected by this move.
8) If you want to win, you need to take calculated risks
HoMM3 insight: You don’t need to build strong armies in order to face the enemy.
Don’t ever wait for “the perfect moment” to start your company. It’s never the right time. I started my business in 2008 (the year the financial crises started). If there’s something you want, prepare yourself for it, and then go get it. You never know until you try, and once you take a shot at it, you may end up liking it. Most entrepreneurs that I know regret that they didn’t start earlier.
9) Keep your balance
HoMM3 insight: Heroes in HoMM3 have four areas for development: Attack and Defence Skills, Knowledge and Spell Power. One of the prerequisites for winning the game is to develop your main hero in all four areas.
Balance work, life, and health. Although in the first years you might expect that the business will take over, be careful to stop it before it turns your life into a mess. What separates entrepreneurs from other professionals is that they enjoy being fully involved in business. Building something great is inspiring, but you still have to survive the experience. No matter what you think, the sacrifices you make to build your business are not temporary. You’ll still be making them in ten years. You can’t skip the gym, not see your family or eat crap ‘until this one crisis is over.’ There will always be another one.
10) Focus on your strengths
HoMM3 insight: Be aware what kind of hero you are leading. Is it a mage or warrior? They have completely different strengths and weaknesses.
Know your strengths and keep the focus on them. If you want to work on your weaknesses, first you need to get the maximum from your strengths. That’s already a big challenge. From our earliest school days, we are taught to focus on improving our weaknesses, but this never leads to greatness. Instead, we need to discover things that make us unique — our talents and strengths and never lose sight of them.