There is a lot of commentary available about the gamification of life and business. We are all encouraged to collect followers on twitter and likes on LinkedIn. These ‘rewards’ conferred on us by our peers often increase our visibility and status, and may bring us to the attention of potential clients but have no intrinsic value in themselves.
So is this trend a bad thing? That’s not really for me to say. There are plenty of debates currently going on between people with far more experience in this field than I, which you can look into if you’re interested. What I do find interesting is this: that there is an open-ended aspect to gamification which actually mirrors business quite well. Ask yourself – how many followers is ‘enough’?
The thing with games is that your reward is usually a harder challenge. Put the time and effort required into conquering a level and you are rewarded with a harder level. The opposition becomes tougher, the course trickier or (if you’re from my generation) the space invaders zig-zag faster.
Most people who’ve started their own business agree that it’s the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. The uncomfortable fact is that most new businesses fail. If yours still exists and is making a profit three years after launch day you are generally considered to have succeeded. What is the reward for this success? New challenges.
In my books and articles I refer to these challenges as Growing Pains and, if you have them, it means you’re doing something right.
Just when you thought you’d passed through the ‘tough times’, others businesses start responding to your success and the competitive pressure begins to grow. You may find that customers demand more of you, so there’s pressure on product development. You may have to learn or re-learn leadership, management and emotional intelligence skills as you take on staff.
This doesn’t mean that by starting your own business you’re embarking on a road of permanent misery, it means that new challenges will always be there and you will often be busy but always interested. There will be opportunities to rest on your laurels, but often people who have the drive to start their own business have the mind-set to actively want to keep striving.
The game lasts as long as you want it to and growing pains represent a positive type of pressure – evidence that you’re winning.