Even some of us here at SmartaHQ are so engrossed in its make-believe, yet very realistic, world of football management, that we find ourselves dreaming of winning the league and pleasing our pretend board.
Last week one addicted staff member was sacked from York City. Unfairly, in his eyes at least, his board was disappointed with the club's recent run of poor results.
After hearing his claims of unfair dismissal we couldn't help but see the comparisons between managing a football club and running a start-up. So, next time you load a game, don't feel guilty about slacking, just think of it as homework, as here are five very important lessons to be learned from Football Manager.
As in business, preparation is vital in Football Manager where you have pre-season to practise. You need to plan suitable friendlies, set training regimes, study the opposition and try different strike partnerships. You can't go into your first match without having done this and it's the same in business. Before launch you need to be better than your rivals, you need to offer something different. You may need to train yourself and learn a new skill - SEO maybe? Try your business out on people, see if they like it, give away a few free samples and go to the right events and speak to people who might be able to help or work with you.
There's only so much you can do by yourself. When all the training, team talk and tactics are done, the fate of your success lies with your players. They're the ones scoring the winners and keeping clean sheets. Compare this to business. It's your staff who will be on the frontline, dealing with your customers and representing your brand. Make sure they do it proud.
Whether you're trying to take York City from the Blue Square Premiership to the Champions League or your start-up from your bedroom to Silicon Valley, we can pretty much guarantee that cash will be tight. So why not invest in youth and take on some hungry young staff? In previous Football Manager games you could pick up Michael Duff from Cheltenham for as little as £24,000 or Tonton Zola Moukoko for £500,000 from Derby. These young wonder kids grew into mercurial talents and formed the backbone of the team. You can do the same in business. Take on a young school leaver or graduate and give them an opportunity to develop. Then watch your start-up grow with them.
In business as in Football Manager, you live and die by the people who pay your wages. In Football Manager, upset the fans or board by saying the wrong thing in the press or find yourself slipping down the league after a string of bad results, you'll be sacked. In business, fail to see what your customers want and they'll stop buying from you and you'll be out of a job
Football Manager is famed for making you think on your feet. Find yourself 3-0 down at home to your closet rivals? Change formation, make a substitution, deliver an inspiring half-time team talk, and you might go out and win the game 4-3. It's the same in business. You have to be adaptable and able to change at the drop of a hat to capitalise on trends in the market.