Incorporating GBGames: The Business Plan

I’ve had a chance to read through some of the materials I’ve received from my visit to SCORE. For the most part, I know about the different things involved in running a business, but I’ve never dealt with the details. I haven’t asked the hard questions.

For example, “What business am I in?” How I answer this question will pretty much dictate how I run my business, so I can’t just blow it off. Perhaps while I write my business plan, I’ll change or refine the answer. Still, it is a very good question that I’ve never answered. I will need to describe my business in terms of how it works, how I plan on making it profitable, and should also identify clear goals. I already know why I want to be in business, but I will need to clarify the how and what.

Since marketing is an important aspect of any business, it deserves its own section of the business plan. It’s tough, but I’ll need to be able to identify who my customers are. “Gamers” isn’t good enough, but am I going to be targetting casual game players? Interstitial gamers? Hardcore gamers bored of the mainstream offerings? How about people who would otherwise be hardcore game players but can’t overcome their fear of a complicated interface? Whose life do I want to change? What’s my pricing strategy? Is the market for my kind of games growing?

It will be a lot easier to direct and control my own business if I have an idea of the resources I’ll have to use. I can’t make good decisions if I am not sure how much money I’ll have to work with from one month to the next. I’ll need to specify a startup budget as well as an operating budget.

Who is my competition? And not just other indie game developers, either. What other products and services are competing with me? People don’t watch television as much, but it still poses an alternative if I don’t make my offerings compelling enough. For that matter, people might prefer using instant messenger clients and talking with their friends rather than play my game. Identifying the competition allows me to try to enhance my own offerings.

I’ve never addressed these questions in detail, but I can already see how doing so will go a long way towards improving my chances of succeding.

3 replies on “Incorporating GBGames: The Business Plan”

Don’t get hung up on your business plan too much. It’s good to focus your thoughts by putting them on paper, but don’t try to think everything out in advance.

When I first started a business as software developer, I noticed that throughout the first few months, goals and focus shifted quite a few times. That wasn’t because I hadn’t set clear goals, but more because I was inexperienced at the time; kind of a given, since I was starting a business ;-). As you start to learn, you’ll realise that the goals you set aren’t exactly right for you. At that point, you need a bit of flexibility.

Working on my game project, I’ve learned that it sometimes works best to get something, anything, down and worry about the correct way later. Otherwise, I’ll try to analyze it forever. I hack at portions of it and only then will I have a good idea of how I should have done it. It’s worked great for me so far.

It will likely be the same with the business plan. If I try to figure out ALL of the details beforehand, I’ll never get started.

In both cases, blindly hacking is just another bad extreme, but I think it is like Steve Pavlina says: sometimes “read, fire, aim” is more useful than “ready, aim, aim, aim, aim…” because I’ll at least make some progress towards my goals. I just need to remember that I’m allowed to make changes when I figure out what works and what doesn’t.

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