The next time you're looking for an online game to wile away the hours, how about one that flexes your entrepreneurial muscles? Dozens of games are popping up all over the Internet that give people of all ages the chance to play business, doing things like running lemonade stands or testing your knowledge of women in business.
Targeted to tweens but fun for all ages, Hot Shot Business is one such game. Created through a partnership between Disney Online and The Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship in America, Hot Shot Business gives players the chance to create one of three businesses-a skateboard factory, a pet spa or a comic store.
Aided by animated guides Jack and Kate, players have to make decisions on financing, marketing, hiring and production as they try to reach certain business goals established by the game. Periodically, news reports will appear that could positively or negatively impact your business. Players also get the chance to see how their small business impacts the community.
The Internet is also a virtual home to one of the most popular childhood entrepreneurial pursuits: lemonade stands. One is operated by AE4RV.com, a game and simulation site created by Geoffrey Noles. "Lemonade Stand is a simple game of business primarily for children but enjoyed by all ages," Noles says. "It's a good introduction to the challenges of running a business, dealing with environmental variables and advertising costs."
Players start out with $3 and have to decide how much to spend on advertising, how much lemonade to make and how much to charge per glass. Like Hot Shot Business, real-world issues arise, such as unexpected cold weather, that can positively or negatively impact your stand.
So next time you're looking for something fun to do online, forget about fighting space aliens and do something more challenging, like learning what it really takes to run a business. Who knows? Tomorrow's tycoons could be starting their first virtual skate factory right now.