Professor talking to students

Business Simulations for Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship simulations are increasingly becoming a popular tool for entrepreneurs to gain hands-on experience in starting and managing a business. These simulations simulate real-world business scenarios and allow entrepreneurs to test their skills, knowledge, and decision-making abilities in a safe and controlled environment. Entrepreneurs can make mistakes and learn from them without risking their own money or damaging their reputation. 

Additionally, simulations provide a great opportunity to gain practical experience in managing a business. This experience can be valuable in preparing students for the challenges they will face in the real world. 

How to Use Simulations in Your Class?

There are two generally accepted methods for using entrepreneurship simulations in a classroom setting.  

  1. Providing as a Homework Assignment
  2. Providing as an In-Class Activity

We’ll dive into both options below so that you can choose the one that fits best to your program. 

Step 1: Providing as a Homework Assignment

One of the greatest benefits of the Startup Wars simulation platform is that it provides students with realistic outcomes that reflect real life.  With that said, your students WILL go bankrupt – and that’s OK!  

In most entrepreneurship simulations, you’ll find that 9/10 students will go bankrupt on their first attempt.  This is a great way to reinforce realistic expectations early on in your class or program. 

To assign as a homework assignment:

  1. Preface the simulation with a written assignment and in-class prompt of “Imagine you were to start your business on Monday morning next week..” and then present the following questions:
    1. What steps would you have to take to incorporate your business?
    2. What steps would you have to take to setup your infrastructure?
    3. How long would that process realistically take?
    4. How long would it take to build your first MVP?
    5. How long would it take to acquire your first customer?
    6. Describe what type of resources you would need in order to make your business profitable within 90 days
    7. Describe what you feel the financial state of your business would be after 30 days in business.  Do the same for 60 days, and 90 days.
  2. After the students have answered the above questions, it’s time to present the simulation assignment.
    1. Click the new “Assignment” from your Instructor Portal to create an assignment.
    2. Click “Copy” to send your students the link appropriate link.
    3. Allow students 1 week to complete the assignment.
      1. Note – we find that most students will go bankrupt at least 2-3 times before they learn appropriate strategies.  This is called an “Attempt” and each attempt takes roughly 30-60 minutes.

Step 2: Gather for Reflection

Now that your students have completed the assignment, it’s time to come back and reflect.  A full guide on creating a reflection assignment can be found here, but from a high level we’d suggest the following format:

  1. Ask for a show of hands – how many students went bankrupt? (most of your students will raise their hands!)
  2. Now, go around the room and ask them “why?”. Ask each student to expand on the financial decisions they made that lead to their success or failure in various attempts.
  3. Additional Questions
    1. How did your strategy change over time? What external factors contributed to this change?
    2. What decisions led to successful outcomes? What factors contributed to their success?
    3. Which decisions did not yield the desired results? Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
    4. How has the simulation improved your understanding of the challenges and opportunities entrepreneurs encounter?
    5. What insights from the simulation can you apply to actual entrepreneurial endeavors?

Encourage students to recognize specific strengths and areas requiring improvement. This will foster self-awareness and help students identify skills they need to develop further (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997).

Step 3 (optional): Repeat for a 2nd Assignment

Our simulation platform allows students to engage with different types of business.  This provides a unique opportunity for students to compare and contrast two different business models.

For instructors using 2 or more simulations in class, the process is the same as the above except now you would want to add the following questions to your reflection period:

  1. Which businesses did you try, and why did you decide on those business models?
  2. What were the main differences between the two simulated businesses you played?
  3. What were the similarities?
  4. How can you use the principles of both business models to apply towards your personal entrepreneurship aspirations?

And that's it!

To conclude, entrepreneurship simulations are an extremely effective tool for aspiring entrepreneurs to gain hands-on experience and develop critical skills relating to starting and managing a business. By simulating real-world scenarios, entrepreneurs can experiment with different strategies, make mistakes, and learn from them in a risk-free environment. There are several types of entrepreneurship simulations available, each focusing on different aspects of business management.

Using Entrepreneurship Simulations in Your Class

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Charlotte Kane
Charlotte Kane Undergraduate Student, The Ohio State University

Startup Wars allowed me to understand everything that goes into starting a business in 90 days.

Darshita Bajoria
Darshita Bajoria Undergraduate Student, The Ohio State University

Startup Wars is an interactive way to learn and hone entrepreneurial skills while being a no-risk outlet. Great tool for those pursuing entrepreneurship.