I’ve read through the SCORE information on writing a business plan, but now I need to start making one.
Unfortunately, I’ve found that the resources provided by SCORE were very general. Parts of it were not relevant to an online software company, let alone to an indie game development company. Also, most indie game companies are privately owned; there isn’t a lot of publicly available information on them. For the most part, actual developers don’t feel comfortable giving out real stats and numbers, and some would argue that the information is worthless anyway. So now what?
I did what any good technical-minded person would do: I searched online for information. I found this post from the Dexterity archives on Indie Gamer. It’s cool because it has the words of Steve Pavlina along with Thomas Warfield. They liken indie game development to turning a flywheel: the more you work at it, the easier it becomes to stick with it. Both were making a few hundred dollars per month at first, but when they are working consistently at it, the sales just keep increasing. It isn’t a get rich quick method, and I never thought it would be, but it is good to know how long it took to make significant and regular sales. Pavlina also touches on the need to stop thinking like a hobbyist if you expect to actually make money from the business. Definitely good advice, especially since I catch myself thinking too small sometimes. While it does provide some information, it doesn’t delve too deeply in what it takes to create a business plan.
I also thought to check out Steve Pavlina’s articles on Dexterity. I credit those articles and the Dexterity forums with the inspiration that got me thinking about starting up my own game company, and I like to read through them every few months. To Plan or Not to Plan is especially relevant. When I first read it, I thought it was good, but I am seeing it in a new light now. “Failing to plan is planning to fail” was a nice saying a year ago, but I now see how effectively it reiterates the importance of planning for my business. The article also goes into what should be covered, such as sales, cashflow, product development, marketing, and customer service among other items. There’s more to it, but suffice it to say that I’ve found the first solid resource on forming an indie game development company in this article.
The article mentions that the business plan should be two to five pages long, which goes with my feeling that it shouldn’t be a monstrous, formal document. I should be able to write a rough outline and draft within the week. Well, I should be able to dedicate an afternoon or two to the task, but I’ll need to schedule the time when I can.
EDIT: Thanks to Troy Hepfner on the ASP newsgroups, I remembered that I own the book Game Development Business and Legal Guide and that I would probably do well to pull it off the shelf, dust it off, and read it now that it applies to my situation a lot better.