GoldfishAccording to the Small Business Skills Challenge – a series of interactive assessments created by Builtvisible for Intuit – I probably shouldn’t try to start my own business – not without significant practice, anyhow.

The Small Business Skills Challenge is a fascinating app that uses hypothetical scenarios to test users’ startup acumen, assessing their skills in time management, hiring, budget allocations, and employee retention. The app grades user performances – I scored mostly Ds and Es, with one happy little C in there. Again: I should not launch a startup at this point in my life.

To learn more about the Small Business Skills Challenge — where it came from, what it’s meant to do, etc. — I contacted Liam Fisher, a creative lead at Builtvisible.

(Note: Fisher’s responses are slightly edited, for style and clarity.) Would you mind giving us a quick overview of what, exactly, the Small Business Skills Challenge is?

Liam Fisher: We had this idea to build something to test business aptitude — not really trying to do it in a hugely rigorous way, but how could we boil down some of the everyday challenges of running a small business into sort of digestible chunks?

Really, we wanted to put it across in a way that meant that people could learn something through it, so we wanted to make sure that it was backed up by articles and materials. The idea was that it was this little hub piece where someone could go and figure out a little bit about the challenges of running a small business and get some feedback on what the experts think on all these matters — things like time management and hiring and that sort of thing.

RC: Where did the idea come from? Did Intuit approach you guys?

LF: We’ve done a few bits for [Intuit], and this was sort of our first big interactive content play with them. We’ve done some stuff before, like we did an infographic about the future of the workplace.

From there, we really wanted to build it out: how could we build something that users could actually engage with, and do stuff, and get feedback?

So, Intuit came to us. They’d done some content marketing before, but never anything in the way of big, interactive play. That was our aim, really: just to sort of help build out the site with stuff that users could get their teeth into.

RC: You mentioned earlier that you guys tried to “boil down” small business into “digestible chunks.” How did you go about doing that?

LF: We looked for those challenges that seemed to be universal across all types of businesses. Originally, we looked at things like getting funding and stuff like that, but the problem there was that it varies so much by business. There wasn’t really a way we could test that or get a user to engage with it in a way that was going to be applicable to everyone.

Talking to people who have been there, and looking around online at the conversations that were happening, we found [certain things] that came up time and time again — like, “How do you manage your time in these early phases, where there’s a million things that need to get done and just you and maybe two other people trying to do it?”

We found that the hiring question came up a lot, too. There just isn’t anything much more important than getting the right people in the right seats. We really liked the idea that we could mock up some CVs and get people to look through them, just to point them in the direction of the things they’re looking for.

And then, obviously, the budgeting stuff. Again, that’s a little bit more complex: budgeting requirements are going to vary across different types of business, but we found that there’s always going to be this element of “Do you spend big now and then run short a little bit later, or do you manage your budget more conservatively?”

It’s really just a question of those challenges we found to be universal across different types of businesses.

RC: How do you imagine people using the tool? What do you see them coming to it for and getting out of it?

LF: The primary people we think will get some use out of it are people who have been sitting around all this time, and they’ve had this thought in the back of their mind. They’ve got this idea for a business, but maybe they haven’t acted on it yet. They think that it’s something they’d like to do, but they haven’t quite figured out how to go about it.

We’re really hoping it will get some people thinking about what the challenges actually are, what the day-to-day might actually be, and how you deal with those daily challenges, in the hopes that we bring out that sort of entrepreneurial spirit in people.

At the same time, we are hoping there will be some people out there — sort of a secondary audience — who have already [started a small business], and they want to see if they know their stuff.

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