Questions for people who have succeded in building an indie business

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by endasil, Jan 29, 2006.

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  1. berserker

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    Business plan definitely can be useful in toilet when you are run out of paper :D
    Consider this opinion as it comes from a person that graduated university of economics and has Masters degree in information management ;)
     
  2. lakibuk

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    @berserker: Word!
    I always wondered what indies need a business plan for. It's used by real companies to get bank loans,right? Plus it's completely unpredictable how much you will sell, so a plan like this is futile.
     
  3. Pogacha

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    What a "business plan" involves?
    I have no grad ... and I don't care in theory, please I only like to know, what a "business plan" involves in this kind of business.
    So you must go for instint or what you mean?.
    I'm confussed. I have a "business plan", but maybe the term reffers to something more than a list of objetives and ways to do it.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  4. Ricardo Vladimiro

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    Slightly off-topic...

    Pogacha,

    A list of objectives and a way to do it sounds more like a project plan. Use some Gant charts, resource tracking, cost assessement and you'll have project management.

    A business plan is usually a huge document. It may have several audiences but it is usually done to get investment, be it banks, private investors, business angels, et cetera. Even you can be your own audience and use a business plan to understand where you are, where you want to be, who you'll have to face and what you have to do.

    I've wrote a couple of business plans and done a load of project management. In the indie context I can see project management being useful, to me it is A LOT. A business plan seems rather useless unless you want or need to know your own focus. But usually a mission statement is enough.

    Hope this helps and good luck.
     
  5. berserker

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    Usually talking about business plan people mean detailed document that involves vision of business, strategic and tactical goals, marketing analysis, competition analysis and lot of other stuff. What I was trying to say that it is not as useful as some people might think. Of course viable business plan is crucial if you expect to get funding but writing one is very difficult job and people without appropriate knowledge and experience fail at this. Of course you can write a document and call it a business plan, but as I said before toilet paper is more useful :)

    There are two approaches to business: intuitive and complex (not sure if I used appropriate words, but anyway...) and to my opinion for small developers that are just starting out first approach usually is the case. That's where business plan will hurt. See, being small means flexible and mobile. That means small developer can risk more easily, can try different things that would not be possible otherwise. And now imagine we have some business plan we need to follow. It will add nothing but we've already lost our biggest advantage - flexibility. I don't even mention the case when your business is wrong from the start since you might have no experience in wrighting ones (you probably don't) and you blindly following your wrong plan :)

    Ofcourse you can have some kind of plan, but keep it short, formulated, and feel free to change it as you progress.
     
  6. Pogacha

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    Ok, thanks.
     
  7. Anthony Flack

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    Plans are great for mopping up your tears. :)
     
  8. Grey Alien

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    Anthony: lol. maybe you write a song about it :)
     
  9. soniCron

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    I'll put it another way:

    How do any of you know you can make any money at all? Someone, somewhere, had to let the cat out of the bag and mention, "Hey, I made a buck with downloadable games." When you're entering a new market, it's enormously helpful to know how big that market already is. Without knowing that, you're flying blind into a storm. No business plan will save your ass in the end, but at least you'll know how big that storm cloud is. (You might just avoid it entirely if it's too small, for example.)

    If there's some debate about the value of the sales figures, then come out and say it -- don't dance around it with pedantic definitons of "business plan." But I'll remind you that I'm not alone in this. One very successful James C. Smith thinks they're valuable enough to keep track of in a database and share that data with the world via a dedicated website.
     
  10. carl

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    IMHO, the real value is not in the plan, but in the planning.

    I'm going under the assumption that you want to make a living writing and selling games. That means that you will have to make money to cover your expenses. How long will it take for the games you develop to cover your expenses? What will your business do before it reaches that mark? Will it live off it's current warchest (your bank account) until the game is released? Will it do contract work for other companies? Will it require more cash infusions from outside investors (ie. you get another job to fund your game development)?

    You don't need to spend a week (or easily much more) formatting word documents, excel spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations, but answering these questions early is important. Once you tally all the expenses and estimate the variables, you'll have a general idea of what it will cost to "make it". Are you willing to pay the price?
     
  11. Teq

    Teq
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    Some nice responses, thanks guys, an interesting read (except the off topic stuff)

    Cliffski: Must be hard working alone, I know I wouldn't be able to motivate myself, its only because I have 2 others kicking my arse that I'm now making progress :p

    I know this isn't my thread, and I don't mean to hi-jack it, but could you guys give a little more detail as to what your team members do?
     
  12. MrPhil

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    One Page Business Page

    I think as an Indie you need a business plan, but not at complex one with pages and pages of text etc. I love this book, The One Page Business Plan, because it is a great guide to creating a simple but powerful one page business plan.

    I also suggest you also do a SWOT analysis once a month. I personally combine my SWOT and one page business plan. Updating my plan once a month helps me keep on track and rein myself in when I start wondering off the path. It also helps remind me of my weaknesses and how I should deal with them. I've wasted a lot of time in the past because I didn't use these two tools.
     
  13. Sillysoft

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    How many people were you when you started the company?
    Me doing all the programming and a friend who did some art and sound work. So there were 2 of us, but he didn't stick around. Now I have found some other contractors for some things.

    How long have you been selling games?
    3 years and a bit.

    On average, how much time do you spend developing each game?
    My game took about 6-8 months working part time to get the first version released. Since then it has been in continued development with repeated update releases for 2 years+. Currently working on a new smaller game that will end up taking about 6 months.

    What do you consider important to think about when starting up a game development company?
    Creating an awesome game. Getting it released. Everything else about the business aspects you can learn as you go. You will survive or fail based on your game(s).

    What methods have you used to make people aware of your site and games?
    Press releases, review requests, google adwords, SEO. Long term SEO has been the most effective by far (the others all give it a boost though, so they are a part of SEO too).

    How many games did you sell per week during the first three months of your business?
    Not very many.

    How many games do you sell per week now?
    Lots.

    What is the download / buy ratio? In other words how many of those who download your demo actually buys them?
    Between 1-3%, but this stat can vary a ton based on how exactly it gets calculated.

    Anything else you would like to add?
    Don't be afraid to continue to update you game after you have "finished" it. If you have a good game and you also have ideas for how to improve it more then go for it. It's much easier to build some new features into your existing game then to start and finish a new game from scratch. If you do this for a long time then eventually you can build up a powerhouse game. Faster release cycles can also help keep your game in the press continually. This is a different path then many of the people on this forum take, but it has worked well for me.

    Secondly, if you can support Macintosh users without too much trouble then do it for sure. They are 50% of sales here and used to be even more.

    Also, thread hijackers suck.
     
    #53 Sillysoft, Feb 4, 2006
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2006
  14. Sean Doherty

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    Why do you say these kind of thing?
     
  15. steve bisson

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    Because he thought saying " only respond if you are an american "
    was the equal of "only respond if you are an expert with success " .

    He thought asking for advices from well established professionals only was some sort of discrimination or whatever.
     
    #55 steve bisson, Feb 5, 2006
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2006
  16. Fabio

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    Why, maybe "only Americans can reply" isn't even more discriminative?

    This is an international board, and the question ain't even about some specific tax or law that exists only in the USA (and, by the way, USA != America).
     
  17. Sharpfish

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    Sonicron was trying to make a point about what he saw as discrimination, he wasn't actually being racist, something the non-native english speakers may have trouble picking up on. It was not intended to mean what it looks like when quoted out of context.

    Also understand I am NOT posting anything in this thread on the issue itself as I don't want to get involved in the has released/hasn't released debate (being a dev who has not built a business yet) but wanted to correct that misunderstanding before things got "hot" around here, that's all. :)
     
  18. Gilzu

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    I think everything that anyone wanted to say on the (original) subject had been said. thing is, that it ended 5 posts ago.

    I don't mind a discussion about who's advice you should take more seriously, if a developer that hadn't yet published a game can have a helpful opinion - I have a few words to say about that myself (as someone who may have finished a game, but failed publishing it).

    BUT

    The title says "Questions for people whe have succeded in building an indie business" and not being flamebait or a source for future arguments. Not to mention the fact that there are more than 50% OT posts in this thread.

    Point is, that i cant allow this thread and future threads to deter to the same OT discussion. If you want to discuss somthing - I even encourage it. But not at the price of ending/driving-OT other discussions.
     
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