“If you love what you do, then you’ll never work another day of your life” – every older person I know
This is a great quote and something most people, in the workforce, would love to achieve. Sadly, I hear all the time that people don’t enjoy their job, wish they had a better boss or have a horrible commute. I was there a few years back. I was in my “dream job” coming out of college. In my mind, I thought this would be the job I would retire from. Unfortunately it turned out not to be the case. Long hours as a salaried employee, with a long commute, quickly takes its toll on you. I decided to do something about it and make a life change. I put my two weeks notice in and made the best choice of my life.
Growing up, my brother Ryan and I were fortunate enough to experience being part of a family run business. We worked with our Dad every summer during grade school. It was hard work, but we both enjoyed it. He didn’t want us to have to work as hard as he did in his career, so college was a must. After graduating and working in the construction industry for several years, we both wanted to get back to what we truly loved – landscaping. As I said, this was best choice I’ve ever made.
Now you may wonder what this has to do with the board game industry. Even though we founded a board game company, Ryan and I continue to work full time landscaping to date. Earnings from board game design and publishing aren’t enough to retire on, at least not yet. It’s important to maintain a steady income and, hopefully, make a gradual transition.
While you wouldn’t think there are any similarities between landscaping and the board game industry, you’d be wrong. We want to share how we’ve been able to apply our skills and entrepreneurial mentality to a completely different industry.
- Design – In the landscape world, you have to have an eye for design. Color, textures and shape of plants all lend to the overall appeal of a house’s landscape. There has to be a good flow with plant selection, varying heights, placement and even considering the color of the surrounding mulch. This is what sells it to the customer and gives that “wow” factor. It has taken many years to perfect and we continue to learn more everyday. This same train of thought can apply to board game design. When designing a game, we look at the game board, box and components. Is there flow in the overall color palette? Are the pieces sized accordingly? What finishes should the playing cards have? You want your game to stand out from others but at the same time, don’t overdo it.
- Customers – It’s important to project confidence. We are self employed. There is not a steady paycheck unless you hustle up work and maintain a consistent customer base. The best way to do this is to portray confidence. When meeting a customer for an estimate, give a firm hand shake, hand them a business card, give your expert opinion on the project and thank them for their time. We practiced this at every game play testing session we hosted at shows and conventions. You want people to feel confident that you are going to provide them with an outstanding product they are going to enjoy. This doesn’t mean your game is perfect and won’t have flaws – it just means if you are confident about your product or service you are selling, then customers will feel the same way. Also, we always tell our landscaping customers that when we work on their property, we treat it as if we are working at our own home. We honestly mean that. The same concept is true for the board game industry. Our first game, Monster Highway, is a game we would have in our personal collection and enjoy playing.
- Networking – The last point to touch on, and probably most beneficial, is building a great network of supporters. We have made great relationships with our vendors and other local landscapers. Vendors are the heart of a landscaping company. They supply our mulch, plants, trees, stone and brick pavers. Fellow landscapers provide great insight on what the hot trends are in pavers, lighting, plants etc. Apply this to the board game market: make friends with other designers, bloggers, podcasters and reviewers. They will become invaluable if and when you decide to make the leap into a Kickstarter campaign. They have certainly helped us out!
We hope this has provided some insight into our background and motivation to move into the gaming market. Maybe you’ll find a bit of inspiration from your current job and apply that same method of thinking that we did.