I never imagined a mobile game like Township would teach me so much about running a startup company, but it has. There are six specific things that I have been reflecting on since playing Township.
Township is a mobile game that simulates running a farm and building a city for those who don’t know. You are in charge of everything from building houses and businesses to producing resources and keeping your citizens happy. It’s an incredibly addicting game that I have been playing for the last 30 days straight.
1. Streamlining your processes today for long term gains
In Township, one of the main things you have to do is manage your factories. This involves collecting raw materials, processing them into finished goods, and then selling those goods on the market.
To be successful in Township, you must have a streamlined process for managing your factories. Each part of the process must be optimised in order to maximise the outputs.
Spending time and effort upgrading your factories and machines to make the production process faster is a long term investment that pays off.
The same can be said about a startup company. You need to have a streamlined process for whatever it is your company does, whether it’s developing software or manufacturing physical goods.
Investing in technology and automating tasks is a long term investment that will pay off in the form of increased efficiency and productivity.
Having a streamlined and efficient process is essential for success. Otherwise, you will end up wasting time and resources on activities that don’t contribute to the bottom line.
2. Remove bottlenecks or pay the price
In the game, there are often bottlenecks in your factories that slow down production. This can be anything from insufficient raw materials to dependencies on other factories.
To keep your factories running smoothly, you have to remove these bottlenecks as quickly as possible. To do so requires careful planning and deployment of resources.
If you don’t remove bottlenecks, your factories will eventually grind to a halt and you will miss out on potential profits.
The same is true for a startup company. You need to identify and remove any bottlenecks in your company that are holding you back from achieving your goals.
Bottlenecks can come in many forms, such as inefficient processes, lack of resources, or even unproductive employees.
In my old company, one of the biggest bottlenecks was finance approval for new spending. Any dollar spent had to be approved by the finance department, which often took weeks.
We solved this with a spending policy and giving staff credit cards with spending limits that they could use for business expenses.
By removing this bottleneck, we were able to increase our speed of decision-making and get things done much faster.
3. It may appear efficient to do many things at once, but in reality, it will slow you down.
In Township, there is a temptation to try and manage multiple factories at the same time. However, this usually leads to inefficiency and ultimately slows down production.
The same is true for running a startup company. It may appear efficient to try and do multiple things at once, but in reality, it will slow you down.
Particularly in the early stages, when you have limited resources and capital, it is essential to focus on one thing at a time and do it well.
Trying to do too many things at once is a recipe for disaster in the Township and startup worlds.
Imagine you had $10M to build a transportation company. You want to build ships, cars, and eventually a rocket. If you had started by building all three, you would likely ended up wasting a lot of money and not getting any of them done well.
It’s much better to focus on one thing at a time, get it right, and then move on to the next thing.
This is how most successful startups operate. They focus on one thing and do it extremely well before moving on to the next thing.
4. Don’t underestimate the value of partners
To succeed in Township, you need to have a good network of trade partners. This is because trading is one of the best ways to get the resources you need to grow your town. Without trade partners, you will quickly run into resource scarcity issues, and your village will suffer as a result.
The same is true for a startup company. Sure, you can have at it, going at it alone, but having a good network of trade partners can unlock new opportunities and help you scale your business much faster.
Trade partners can provide you with access to new markets, resources, and even financing.
Take McDonald’s for example. They have a very extensive network of suppliers, distributors, and franchisees that help them operate in over 100 countries.
Without this network, they would not be nearly as successful as they are today.
Building a solid network of partners is essential for growing your town in Township and your startup company.
5. Be ready for timely opportunities when they are presented to you
The Township game offers a range of extra bonuses and opportunities to earn extra resources, but these are only available for a limited time. If you want to take advantage of these bonuses, you have to act quickly.
The same is true for running a startup company. There will be times when timely opportunities present themselves, but you have to act quickly if you want to take advantage of them.
A timely opportunity could be a new market that is opening up, a change in regulations, or even a major customer that is looking for a supplier.
Consider the case of Uber. They were able to take advantage of a timely opportunity when the smartphone app market was just taking off. They were also lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when the taxi industry was undergoing major changes.
Timing is everything in business, and you have to be ready to take advantage of opportunities when they are presented to you.
This is why it’s important to have a good team in place that can act quickly when opportunities arise.
6. Having competition is good for innovation
In the game, you’ll be given challenges and ranked against other players in Township. At first, it may seem like competition is a bad thing. However, the reality is that competition is good.
It forces you to push yourself and strive to be the best.
If I wasn’t competing against other players for the #1 spot, I would have been content to just sit back and relax.
Instead, the competition pushed me to invest more time and improve my game, and a result, my town strived.
The same is true for business. Too often, startups shy away from competition because they are afraid of failure. However, competition is good for business. It forces you to push yourself and strive to be the best.
I know a VC who always asks startups, “Who is your competition?”
If the startup doesn’t have any, he moves on because he knows that the startup is not trying to be the best at anything.
Competition is good for business because it forces you to raise your game and be the best that you can be.
So don’t be afraid of competition. Embrace it. It’ll be good for your startup company in the long run.
While Township is just a game, it has made me reflect a lot on what it takes to run a successful startup company.
If you want your startup company to be successful, you need to identify and remove bottlenecks, focus on efficiency, build a strong network of trade partners, seize opportunities when they show up, and constantly strive to improve your business.
For those that are running a startup and want to look for something fun to do while potentially learning and reflecting on a thing or two about business, I highly recommend giving Township a try.
Who knows, you might learn something that will help you in your own startup company.
Final thought – you may want to limit your time on this game. It can be highly addictive!