Startup TO – Tactics for board game ‘Risk’ lead to startup success

The Business of Risk. Photo by:

How is your startup business managing risk and strategy?

It’s not easy, that’s for sure. It’s a dog eat dog world out there for every type of busineess, not just startups. Do you have a solid plan of action? Are you developing fast enough? Is your website good enough? Are you evolving your distribution strategy to hit the right channels at the right time?

To put the topic in context, I like to think of the classic board game Risk. In case Risk was out of your generation, it’a a turn-by-turn war driven board game with the goal of strategic world domination; much like the end goal of most startups. After all, war and business have always gone hand in hand. Like real war, Risk the game takes tact, time and adaptation. Sounds an awful lot like running a startup doesn’t it?

Sure in real life the dice rolls are figurative, but growing a business is similar in nature. You never know what will happen based on your planned and reactive “moves.”

Ashley Huffman, IT Business Contributor

There’s a lot we can learn from this classic game of world domination. Here are the 3 simple CTA’s based on the strategies of Risk to help you balance your startups risk and strategy:

1. Conquer whole continents – You will earn more armies that way.

Have a plan of action and adapt it as often as required. This should be quite often for a few departments in particular, like tech, R&D, marketing and sales.  If you don’t adapt or innovate to make your product/service even more awesome, you really shouldn’t bother.

To conquer the continents (aka your market, personal fears and the competition), you should at the very least be:

– Doing something that makes human life better and/or easier

– Sharing with a greater purpose (give more than take)

– Love what you do enough that you’re willing to die for it or while doing it

If only we were all so lucky to have a Gordon Ramsay type yelling at us when we get lazy and fall out of love with what we’re doing. “Not good enough!!”

2. Watch your enemies: If they are building up forces on adjacent territories or continents, they may be planning an attack.

Just as you need to watch out for what’s happening within your own region, industry and market, you need to be careful of you put your trust into. We’re talking business and money after all; people do crazy things for money.  What can you do to protect yourself and your business? Know what an NDA is, when you need it, and have one ready that’s lawyer approved.

Find a lawyer who’s interested in your company and idea, and get them on your Board. Not only are they good to have a Batphone away, but chances are they’ll give a rate discount in hopes for stock options.  Keep in mind, the bigger the firm and more known the lawyer, the scarier it will be for someone to mess with you and your business.

3.  Fortify borders adjacent to enemy territories for better defense if a neighbor decides to attack you.

What’s the best defense? Having a great offense.  Take action by finding alliances to strengthen your expertise, understanding of the market, and speed to which you can achieve success. No one knows everything, but with some help from outside sources, a little research and risk, you can fortify your stronghold in the market.

Put together a list of people that inspire you and the key players in the industry who you wish you could work with and/or pick the brain of.  Next, ask for help.  Don’t be wish-washy. Stick to outreach that what works:

1) What problem are you looking to solve?

2) Why exactly are you asking for their help? It should be based on something epic they’ve done that inspired you.

3) At the core, this is still  a form of sales, so ask for the close. Ask for help, advice or a reference.

4) Be humble, be kind and for goodness sake. spell check!

We often forget that the epic people we look up to are just humans too.  Yes, even Guy Kawasaki,  Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Pete Cashmore.  The worst that can happen by reaching out to someone is they say no. Big whoop!

Much like game of Risk, world domination business success takes time, proper understanding of the rules and strategic, ever-changing planning.  As part of your strategy, be careful of who you align allegiance with and take time to learn.  As a startup, this is more important than ever.  Be sure to avoid excessive and costly distractions (time =money) and always make sure you’re doing things the right way. Sure, it takes time, effort and more time, but it’s worthwhile if you’re in the game for the long-term win.

Ashley is an education & technology evangelist from the GTA.  She is proudly a Marketing & PR mentor at INcubes and is the brains and brawn behind the geek blog Ashley is also a self-proclaimed Twitter and Nanodots addict.

Ashley Huffman
Ashley Huffman
Startup, technology and girls in tech evangelist. Can be found behind the scenes at Nano Magnetics Ltd getting things done. Professional @Nanodots builder and Guinness World Record holder. Fan of life hacks, Scrum and WOW, in no particular order. Self proclaimed Twitter addict.

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Blogger Spotlight

Latest Blogs

ITB in your inbox

Our experienced team of journalists and bloggers bring you engaging in-depth interviews, videos and content targeted to IT professionals and line-of-business executives.