by Phil Newton, founder, Sodaware.
Starting up as an indie developer is an exciting time, but once the initial euphoria has died down it can be hard to keep going. The initial outlay of setting up can be a burden, and advertising, press releases, equipment and other costs quickly add up. If you prepare before you start up, you can reduce these problems, but even if you’ve already started there’s still hope. This article contains tips on reducing startup costs, raising money once you’ve started and optimising these earnings for maximum profits.
The important thing to remember when starting is that cash flow is the life-blood of your business. Without money coming in, eventually your business will cease to be. It shall be bereft of life, singing with the choir-invisible (etc etc). Personal funds can keep you going, but only for so long.
The first few weeks and months of business are a race to become profitable — all other activities can wait.
Before you get caught up in the thrill of setting up a business, take some time to think it through. Once you’re certain it’s the right thing to do, you need to make a few more decisions and learn some important skills.
When Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico in order to conquer the Aztecs, he ordered his men to burn the ships they arrived on. This had two major effects: 1) it let the opposition knew that they were confident of victory, and 2) it stirred on the fighters as they had no escape route. Quitting your job before starting your business is sometimes referred to as “burning the ships”, but is it always the right decision?
Some people thrive on the thrill of having to push forward under difficult and extreme circumstances, but it’s not for everyone. A job is a safety net, and although sometimes knowing you don’t have to put in 100% can hold you back, having a regular income can assist your business when the going gets tough. If there’s one thing certain in business, it’s that the going WILL get tough.
When you start out, spend the absolute bare minimum on what you need. Buy cheap web hosting, as you can upgrade it later. Stick to old hardware, use free software wherever possible and utilise free advertising like word of mouth. Unless it’s absolutely vital to your business, skip on the stationary and business cards. Yes, they’re cool and they make you feel like a proper businessperson, but unless they’re bringing in the cash they’re taking it out.
You want to minimise costs at this early stage in the business’s life. It’s true that you have to spend money to make money, but be very careful about where you spend it.
You will end up working long hours, you’ll have times of very high stress and at times you’ll be ready to pack it in. Make sure you, and those around you, are prepared for the difficulties that lie ahead. Indie business is a long-term endeavour, and it can take years to become truly successful. If you’re looking to get rich quickly, you might be disappointed.
Just remember that all the pain and suffering is worth it in the end.