For most entrepreneurs, self-funding is the ideal way to start a business. For a mobile game development startup, having enough capital takes away the pressure of having to meet investors’ expectations and deadlines, especially because the game app industry is saturated and making it is never a foregone conclusion.
Other benefits of self-funding are: it gives you creative control and leverage to experiment organically; you develop the discipline to focus on your project because cash is limited; and you learn to keep operating methods lean.
If you are planning to, or have started, developing mobile games without external financing, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. You must have a concept you’re passionate about
This will be your inspiration, the reason you wake up in the morning. It is also where you will be pouring your own money into. But how to build that concept? Break it down into pieces. A concept can be overwhelming because you don’t know where or how to start creating it so it becomes implementable. Smaller chunks are easier to analyze in detail and change if necessary. You don’t quickly get frustrated because you can see your progress one step at a time.
2. Don’t abandon your other sources of income
If you have another business running, stop micromanaging and delegate tasks to a trusted person. Accept work-for-hire projects. If you are an employee, continue working. The reality is, you won’t know if, after all your efforts, your game may not be as popular and revenue-generating as you envisioned it to be and you’ll need a fallback option for income.
You’ll be working more hours than you ever had but if you can manage it, and not break the law, develop your game but keep those sources going.
3. Persevere and persist
From idea to implementation to completion, don’t give up. Avoid having all that money you spent on the project to just go down the drain because you ran out of funds or you lost interest. Make a commitment to proceed and overcome the obstacles. Borrow from your parents, or apply for a loan. At some point you’ll think you were crazy for thinking everyone will be playing your game. Get over the discouragement and finish your project.
4. Be ready to wear many different hats
With a self-funded startup, you’ll be limiting your hires and will need to take on the different roles in the business. Many new entrepreneurs get overwhelmed by being the CEO and doing all the other menial tasks simultaneously. In a mobile game startup, be prepared to work as the architect, developer, engineer and data analyst and while keeping an eye on the business side.
5. Listen to what your customers say
Test your game on players and find out what they think about it. Your passion for your creation is what got you started in developing it, but others may not have the same level of excitement over your game. Use their critiques and opinions to spur you on to improving it. Ask about their experience, what made them try your game, and what they think will make it better. Their feedback is invaluable and it’s free.
Tip: Start with a small product that will bring in revenue. Never mind if it isn’t what your main goal is. The important thing is to get the cash back to you.
6. Always be open to advice you get from everyone
It can be irritating to listen to unsolicited but well-meaning advice. But what not everyone knows is, you don’t have to agree and act on them. Simply listen well and store them in your memory; you might recall and need it one day. If you do need advice, seek them from people you respect, customers, business partners and experts.
7. When hiring, offer more than a paycheck
The best hires will seek out better pay or more established companies, which you can’t afford yet. Offer them something else, like a work from home option, or a stake in the company. Be clear about your mission and vision. You’ll want to keep the right people and those with exceptional skills set. Hire a few but choose carefully for key positions. The primary product developer and online marketing specialist will help propel your startup to success.