Talk to your local SBA about your game idea

Michael Cowden
December 19th, 2015

Talk to your local SBA about your game idea

Last week I wrote about the importance of collaboration as you're developing a video game. It helps you move faster, refine your ideas, and is just more fun!

One of the things that pushed me to collaborating more on Super80sWorld was hitting a motivational drought when I reached the midway point on my game.

Some months back, I heard a speech from the SBA talking about all the great (free) services they offer small businesses. Faced with the prospect of abandoning a project I was once so excited about, I decided to give it a try.

I ended up reaching out to the DC Women's Business Center (a partner organization of the SBA) and attending an initial orientation. Since then, I have followed up with a couple of one-on-one consultations. All of this ran me about $10, which I can only assume they charge to make sure people show up for the orientation.

The help I received was invaluable in a few regards.

Accountability

If you are starting a business on your own, the hardest part can be dealing with procrastination and motivational challenges. Unlike your day job, there's no one leaning over your shoulder asking when you're going to be finished. Unlike your day job, there's no (perceived) consequence for being late or even abandoning your project.

That's where the DC Women's Business Center came in: I finally had someone to whom I was accountable. Once a month I meet with my advisor, Aleea. I owe her an update. I made commitments and I want to keep those commitments. It makes the project tangible. It helps me focus on what's important to getting the Super80sWorld out the door.

Focus

Don't be discouraged if the person you speak to at your local SBA doesn't have knowledge about your particular industry. What is more important is having someone with more general business experience that can help you sort out all of your crazy ideas into a tactical execution plan.

My advisor at the DC Women's Business Center is a lot like therapist: she doesn't ask a lot of questions or make a lot of suggestions, but when she does they are on point. They help me keep focused on what's important in starting the business and that's key because there's so much to do and little time for distraction.

Validation

Finally, there's the value of regular validation of all the hard work you've put in. Our meetings are like checkpoints - I can clearly articulate the laundry list of accomplishments I've made since the last one. In the six weeks between our last and most recent meeting, I listed out what I'd accomplished:

  • Formed an LLC and created a Small Business Checking Account
  • Decided on a company name, product name and logo
  • Created a mailing list
  • Setup social media accounts
  • Started this blog
  • Determined our target demographic, pricing and niche market
  • Cleaned up our video game for a beta test

It feels like a lot listed out like this, but there's always more to do. And when you're faced with a mountain ahead of you, you rarely take a moment to look back the how high you've climbed. These regular meetings are good at providing that perspective and validation of all the hard work you are putting into your project.

Conclusion

If you're starting a company on your own, do yourself a favor and reach out to your local SBA. It's a free and valuable resource for keeping you focused and accountable. To find a local chapter near you follow this link.

Also, if you're looking for more articles on the business of game development, check out the Underbyte Studios Blog on Tumblr.


If you'd like to find out more about our game, please join our mailing list. We're looking for folks to evaluate a beta version of the game and give us honest feedback to help improve the game.


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