Start-up and Small Business Management

Small business managementTeaching Start up and Small Business Management

SimVenture Evolution supports start-up and/or small business management courses. From short events through to semester-long modules, the flexible on-line simulation allows people to learn and understand essential lessons about starting, running and/or scaling a business.

Why use the business simulation?

Many start-up and small business management courses are designed to equip people with knowledge and skills, but they often ‘fail to nail’ two fundamental areas:

  1. Teaching people how to manage commercial risk
  2. The importance of discovering ‘unknowns’

 1. Teaching people how to manage commercial risk

Like flying a plane, armed combat or medical surgery, running a business is a risk pursuit. Uncertainty is constant. There are many ways to get it wrong. Allowing people to fail safely when learning about small business management is a critical part of the learning journey.

small business managementWhen using an authentic simulation people learn actively and repeatedly through information analysis, decision making and dealing with consequences – all in context. Like the real world, unforeseen problems happen and false assumptions are continually challenged.

For example, anyone who has run a business knows that creating and sustaining demand is not easy. For a customer to buy, everything from research, price and promotions through to product design, sales and fulfilment has to be right. Easy to lecture or write in a textbook. Way more difficult in reality.

Managing all the commercial issues underpinning demand is just one of many critical lessons people learn when using the simulation (see 3 others below). Evolution is also carefully designed to help people discover what they don’t know about start-up and small business management.

2. The importance of learning unknowns

small business managementNearly everyone, about to start/manage a new venture for the first time, possesses a range of false assumptions about how their business will work and what lies ahead.

The wise entrepreneur will identify gaps in knowledge and seek (through support and training) to make sense of ‘known unknowns’.  But it’s the unidentified risks people don’t know to check that trip and trap later. Unfortunately, ‘unknown unknowns’ are the biggest segment of knowledge.

Using a simulation such as SimVenture Evolution allows people to explore and discover these unknown issues, principles and practices. As a result, people better prepare themselves for real-world work.


SimVenture Evolution: Revealing Risk and Unknowns

As a start-up and small business management simulation every individual using Evolution learns and discovers for themselves. Active learning pivots around the individual’s needs and speed of understanding.

small business management
Popup information is always available at the point of need in Evolution

Evolution’s depth also triggers curiosity. When people search for relevant information (to them) the answers are there. And if people work in groups, pertinent questions that are asked by one person are often answered by another.

But why should you trust the simulation and its ability to reach, inspire and fast-track relevant learning?

SimVenture Evolution: Designed by seasoned entrepreneurs

Members of the simulation design team have been starting and growing companies for 30+ years, in different industries. The collective experience underpins the design of Evolution and the impact of all its connected algorithms. Money, time, stress, skills. morale and efficiency are all connected within Evolution – just like reality.

SimVenture Evolution has also been carefully crafted to help people learn critical lessons that underpin the running of any business – in any sector. Understanding gained from failing and succeeding with Evolution’s bicycle manufacturing company can easily be transferred.

So what are some of these learning examples?

Key Evolution lessons for small business management

  1. Product over Market People who start businesses often possess false assumptions about the journey ahead. The biggest assumption is that the focus of their attention should be their world-beating gizmo. This mindset (which is often difficult to budge) often leads to early business failure. In SimVenture Evolution, the market for bicycles is key. People who ignore the market, fail to undertake market research and/or play fast and loose with competitor data run businesses that lose money and ultimately crash. The unpleasant simulated experience helps to shift thinking.

  2. Basic Financial Management Startups often fail to pay close attention to the numbers and/or assume it is a job for the accountant. Entrepreneurs who don’t understand key terms such as debtors, creditors, overheads, gross margins etc. (and/or fail to control the flow of cash) waste money and often fail, even when the business is doing well. In SimVenture Evolution, users are exposed to their financial reports and records. Through failure and success people learn about the importance of key financial indicators and how those figures are calculated. This fundamental contextual learning is easily transferred to real small business management.
  3. Connected Learning Running a company is akin to spinning plates. But the reality of the experience often only dawns once an individual starts trading. Teaching the connected nature of small business management in the classroom is very challenging. As a result, people don’t appreciate how time, money, skills, stress and all business subjects work together. In SimVenture Evolution, users experience nearly all aspects of running a small business. The authentic nature of the simulation’s design means little is left to chance and every decision is connected to other areas of the simulation. Likewise, people learn that skills, money and business mastery is only acquired through applied learning and (repeated) failure.

Learning Principles matter more than bicycles

Having started and grown businesses in the retail, research, design, marketing, print, consultancy and software sectors, the SimVenture Team appreciates that to succeed, people must learn the fundamental principles (and how they inter-relate) of small business management.

A sophisticated simulation helps teachers and trainers to develop meaningful learner mindsets. Being an active learning resource, users of Evolution discover for themselves what they don’t know, where their thinking is flawed and how to manage the risks.

Once people establish and accept gaps in their knowledge and thinking, meaningful as well as transferable learning is rapid.