From a Pinterest Pin and a list in the Motivation Myth, steps copied here as an example, it’s just a starting point I will flesh this out later.
I’m crash testing some Pinterest Pins from my Entrepreneurship board to see how applicable the advice is based on 6 months testing my publishing company..
The Story – This list was from a Pinterest Pin called “Startup Launch Checklist 22 Steps to Success”
I am leaving the original items in big bold letters and my comments will be italicized in smaller text.
1. Research and Choose your market
So Evil Robot Games has chosen to work in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steampunk genres and the market of tabletop Role Playing Games. In 2018 ICv2 said that market was worth $65 million. I do a better breakdown in this post.
2. Write a Business Plan
Yeah, I have some books on that, we’ll get there. Currently, I’m not spending any more than I can afford to lose.
3. Design & Develop your Minimum Viable Product
We started out with an expensive product that sold dozens of copies and is still in the red. I made a cheap starship from stock art and it went profitable the week it was released with less than five copies.
4. Protect your assets.
The Pinterest list mentions patents, claims, trademarks, domain names. We’ve got all the domain names we think we’re going to need. None of our current projects need a patent.
5. Select a business structure
Probably an LLC or LL Partnership, right now more of a sole proprietorship.
6. Pick a name
Done, we’re not Evil Genius Games because in 2003 when I went domain shopping, somebody was squatting on the domain name and not doing anything with it.
7. Find a Co-Founder or Partner
Well that’s Jim, unless you are a highly motivated person, you need an accountability partner to push you to to do your best, to look over things before you make them public and to be in your corner when things are down.
8. Find a mentor or community
So I’d like to stop right here and talk about my third-party small publisher contacts, other writers, other game designers on Facebook, Twitter, the Freelance Forge folks all out there sharing and boosting each other’s work. When you’re new to this it’s good to have someone to ask questions. When you’re further along in the business, be available to answer questions too.
9. Choose your funding type
Evil Robot Games is Self funded until sales cover expenses. I spent a lot of money world building in the beginning long before I developed my MVP (Step 3) and that’s a mistake.
10. Research compatible investors or services
Ok, I’m not telling anyone to get a business loan, in that regard the Pinterest list was more applicable to traditional businesses. However it is important to know the webstores, printers, stock art companies, ad services, these are my compatible services for a small publisher.
ERG sells electronic products through DriveThruRPG, Paizo.com and Print on Demand books through DriveThruRPG. People making OGL compatible games might want to consider the Open Gaming Store and if you like making small lyric games you might want to look into Itch.io
11. Create your pitch deck
Again this is more applicable to traditional businesses getting investor money. However, you should think about the ad copy you use to sell your products. Its no enough to write thousands of brilliant words for the book, you need a few hundred amazing words to make people want it or they’ll never see the rest.
12. Find your support team
Again this is more applicable to traditional businesses, but if you get big, these things make sense. Business bank account, insurance, lawyer, accountant.
13. Make it official
Register to get an EIN, permits or licenses you need. Look at the list that follows this one for more details on these.
14. Comply with the law
This was an HR type bullet about treating your employees right, I want to do right by my people, but so far they are all freelancers, which means paying on time.
15. Build a great team
Between writers, artists and cartographers, I think I may have.
16. Find an office
Very few indie RPG publishers have actual offices.
17. Establish your brand
Company personality and purpose. At ERG we’ve tried to approach our Sci-fi based on what if this were real, such as our ship designs. There’s a bit of snark to our writing but that might just be Jim and I personally. Our brand is us making the kind of GM aids that we’d use at our own tables and hope to get them into the hands of the most people possible.
18. Research and create detailed customer personas
This could be its own post, but if you do it properly it tells you what kind of products to make and where to advertise them,
How old are your customers?
How much money do they make?
Where do they live?
Hobbies & Habits?
19. Create a strategy
So I tried some things, top down world building, expensive art for non projects vs stock art and small budget projects. Ad copy needs to come with projects, not be an afterthought when uploading them in a hurry.
20. Learn from others mistakes
Other than backing up files, I am not certain too many others have shared their mistakes, Owen has shared some of what has worked for him.
21. Find tools to run your business
InDesign, Photoshop, Evernote, WordPress, Google Drive, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail
22. Learn to lead
Well, I decide things specifically where my scifi game is concerned, Jim and I generally hash things out and push each other creatively. This really should read “Learn to delegate” because your business will only grow as big and as fast as what you personally can do until you give some things away to people who can help you.
So here is the list from the Motivation Myth about making your business official, you may recognize some overlap between the lists.
Step 1: Get over the company-name thing.
Jeff notes a business can operate under a different name from the company name. You can also change the company name later, if you need to.
Step 2: Get Your Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Step 3: Register your trade name.
Step 4: Get your business license.
Step 5: Complete a business personal property tax form (if necessary).
Step 6: Ask your locality about other permits.
Step 7: Get a certificate of resale (if necessary).
Step 8: Open a business bank account.
Step 9: Set up a simple accounting spreadsheet.
Haden, Jeff. The Motivation Myth (p. 189). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
If you have any feedback about this post or our books please feel free to contact us.
Evilrobotgames at Gmail.com