BUILD IT - Like your Small Business ERP

How to explain it to your friends through a mobile game

Over a couple of casual ‘sodas’ and the back of a napkin at the local with some friends, I was asked to explain what I do for a living.  One’s a television commercial producer, another a construction project manager, and the third works in traditional credit products.

Recognizing that my life’s work is centered around ‘connecting’ with people in a manner that the messaging sticks, how can I best explain it for this party of three?  With varying backgrounds and diverse skill sets? For something as broad, yet detailed, as ERP and Odoo?

Stepping into the Way-Back Machine for just a second, a few weeks ago I downloaded SIM City - Build It for my phone.  A fun little game to pass the time during conference calls on the train, you play Mayor to build and craft your own unique city.  You’ve got to build roads, residential areas, factories, shops, police & fire stations, hospitals, parks, water treatment, power, trash, and so on.  The happy SIMs along the bucolic banks of Argos Rho (my affectionately-called little municipality’s name) were growing and growing rapidly. I thought I was doing great - building high rise condo towers, generating tax revenue, maintaining that 100% happiness rating, and manufacturing and selling items like ice cream sandwiches.  

But I grew too fast. I built, and built, and built - until finally I outgrew my city’s power capacity.  I had power outages. SIMS were outraged they couldn’t watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey. I outgrew the sewage and garbage - my city literally stunk!  My once happy little SIMs had enough, and began moving out. I couldn’t upgrade those facilities fast enough because I was losing tax money because of the mass exodus.  My city upon a hill was in shambles! I had great plans to save up for parks, beaches, and pollution-free factories, but all had to be scrapped to scramble up the cash to pay for the sorely needed infrastructure that was forcing my people out.

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Citing failure, I crumpled up my ‘build it and they will come’ strategy and shifted gears.  Instead, I upgraded infrastructure before building new residential properties.  I allowed myself to grow into the overages I just created in power, water, sewage, and garbage I created in advance.  As my citizens merrily made their way back to Argos Rho, it struck me how similar this silly little scenario transposes to the serious business world.

Almost by accident, I was able to convey what I do, how it works, and why it’s important to my three BFF’s.  Yet despite their understanding, we see all to often the kind of customer that doesn’t. The ones who have done a great job of building a successful and growing business, right up to the hard line of maximum capacity, but can’t go any further.  Investments in business utilities are just as important as the front-end revenue drivers. Neglecting either one now to kick the can down the road will put your business at unnecessary risk later.

The moral of the story - A healthy, vibrant, growing business optimizes its success when the infrastructure is in place to support ravenous growth.  Plugging leaks and holes with stop gap measures only leads to more leaks and holes later. Be the business leader you want to be by having the right layout.

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