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Making It

Getting Backing and Getting Started

by Anders Russell
Nov 15,2005


Getting Backing and Getting Started

Now, I was very fortunate that the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme was available in Australia and that I was accepted into it - the education, moral and financial support that it provides have been exceptionally helpful. But, how do you get the backing you need to afford to operate until you launch a product.

Finding backing can be very difficult, venture capital isn't likely going to be interested in something like RPGs/Boardgames/Wargames, the same can be said for many banks and other financial institutions. However, both of those retain some potential if you have a good credit rating, excellent business plan and all the moves when it comes to presenting it. Your business plan should have included these considerations - and any way, how much money do you actually need to survive to your first launch? Can you work a part-time job and still get enough work done on your project? Do you have enough savings to tide you over? Does your country have unemployment benefits that you could claim while doing this? Some of these options mightn't be appealing but they may very well be necessary.

Many government groups can give you a lot of help in finding backing or finding other options - after all, as I mentioned in the previous column, the government has a vested interest in helping you make money. But, with the advent of online publishing and print-on-demand, the cost of producing your work has dropped through the floor. Rather than having to get together several thousand dollars for a paper print run, now even a few hundred can be more than sufficient to ensure that your product is listed on most sites. Though this mightn't be the grand launch that you had once imagined, at about this point, you should feel the heavy weight of realism settling upon your shoulders. Getting backing can be a big hurdle, but you need to realise that living like a monk with a vow of poverty for a few months might well be the situation that's ahead of you. Hopefully, the eventual payoff and the thrill of running your own business will make this bearable.

But what of getting started? When you sit down in your "office" for the first time as a genuine business owner, then you will have quite a rush. Even if your office is the computer next to your bed in a one bedroom apartment, you are now a businessman - and you have to believe this. If you think that's fun, just wait until you get your first form letter from some random company trying to get you to hire through them or something similar, the letter doesn't matter - but seeing "Attn: The Managing Director," and knowing its for you. Well, your power tripping self should love it.

More of a concern is the mental inertia that can occur, when you have to transition between being an autocratic decision-making manager and the games creator/designer/writer/tester. The creative side of the endeavor may suffer for a while as you try and get yourself back into the mindset of being the creator. Or worse - all of your ideas may have gone down the toilet during the business planning phase. I changed my initial release product from a stand-alone card game to a generic modern ruleset about two weeks before my business plan was due for submission. That meant, that by the time it came to begin developing the product my original ideas, notes and planning were all long gone and out the window, leaving me with a blank notebook a lot of work in front of me (which I'm still struggling out from underneath).

Hopefully you will have an idea ready, but even if you do, how on earth do you start working towards making it a book? When do you start contacting artists? When do you start play-testing? When do you want to have it all ready for the final checks and editing? Myself, I had no clue about any of these things - I truly was starting from scratch. My best advice is to start with all of them on your first day of business. Put out the call to artists and see who responds. Run your rules and updates past your friends to see what they think as you create them. Get as many people as you can to read and check everything you write at every stage - because, unlike the adage, too many cooks don't spoil the broth, it just makes life a hell of a lot easier for the chef who has to prepare the main course.

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