Professional Advice From a Complete Amateur

Back in business! I know it has been sometime and likely there is no one still looking at this, but since half of what goes into the Internet is essentially just people talking to themselves in public, I will just go ahead.

What inspired me to get started again is someone that inspires me all the time. Recently, my wife, who is an awesome (and Board Certified) family lawyer here in Dallas has decided to leave her job of 9 years and strike out on her own as a solo practitioner.

Terrifying and exciting. More of the latter than the former since I know just how awesome she is and she’s already had quite a few hits of interested clients.

But that is general inspiration. What inspired me to rejuvenate this blog, in particular is being reminded of just how hard it is to open a business. I cannot say that Black Guard Press is any real business, certainly not a business like my wife is opening. After all, most of the “profits” from Black Guard Press goes back into Black Guard Press so that it will make more “profits” so more can go back into Black Guard Press.
On the other hand, my wife’s business will, hopefully, earn enough profits to not only feed her and me but also increase our shared income in general.

That is not without its pain, though.

So, with my own experience and the experience that I’ve gained in both watching and helping my wife establish her firm, here are a few things that I’ve learned.

1.) Everything is harder than you think – From creating the video for my Kickstarter and getting it uploaded to the site, to finally getting the PDF of Non-Essential Personnel into the right shape to go up on the DriveThruRPG site, there were assorted levels of frustration and setbacks in everything that I tried to do.

The same thing has happened to my wife. For example, she needed insurance, both simply to protect us from frivolous lawsuits and so that she could get onto a list of lawyers made available to potential clients at the courthouse. But, to get the insurance, she needed a physical address for her business. Since she is working from our house and only virtual officing, and did not want our home address on the public record for her job, this was something of an issue, especially since she had set up a PO box for the express purpose of getting mail. They also required letterhead with this address, which she did not have. So, she was forced to pay for her virtual office 2 months before she would actually be ready to use it so that she could have everything in place on her go live date.

2.) Everything is more expensive than you think – For me, it was getting Adobe so that I could create my PDF. For her, it has been just about everything. Getting the virtual office early, getting a new virtual office when she realized the first wasn’t what she wanted, paying for the insurance, paying for all the many programs needed, even setting up her website. However much money you think you’re going to need…you’re going to need more.

3.) In the end, you may have to do it yourself – Publishing NEP was actually my second foray into digital publishing. BGP was set up a year or two before I actually had a product to publish. The original attempt died on the vine when I clashed creatively with one of my friends when we tried to collaborate. It was at least as much my fault as his, given that the project was my baby and I was a little overprotective of it.

By the same token, as much as I want to and have tried to help my wife, there are simply some aspects of her business that she has to do herself. Additionally, there are some that require her input. I don’t believe in the old adage “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” There are probably plenty of people who can do whatever you want done the right way. Assuming there is a “the right way.” I do believe in the old adage “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” (though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to). If you just want something done and don’t care about how it gets done, there are probably a ton of people who can get it done for you. If you want it done when you want it done and how you want it done…do it yourself, just to be safe.

There’s probably no way to get around these issues, or the many others that come up. But there are some ways to mitigate them. I’m going to call the ones I can think of the two P’s.

1.) Plan –I already said that things are going to be both harder and more expensive than you think, so how can I expect anyone to plan for something when they don’t fully understand exactly what it entails? You can’t, not fully. But you can do some research and get an idea of what’s coming. This both helps insulate you from how bad things might get and helps keep you from thinking things are worse than they are. You might have to go through an extra couple of steps or pay a bit more than you expected, but you’re not completely blindsided by how hard things are or how expensive they get. Likewise, doing some research might help you realize that some things you thought were either too hard or too expensive actually are in your reach.

Similarly, very few plans completely fail. They very rarely go as planned but just as rarely does everything diverge from what you expect and make provisions for. So long as you don’t ride your plan down like a captain going under with his ship, you can salvage bits and pieces and make a new plan. Some would simply call this revising their original plan. I like to call it “Creative Utilization of Previously Determined Contigencies.”

2.) Persevere – If you are doing what you really want to do, do it. Maybe you will succeed. Maybe you won’t. That depends on any number of things, how could your idea is, how much support you have, how lucky you are. Most of those things you cannot control. What you can control is whether or not you let the setbacks that are guaranteed to hit you stop you. Perseverance does not guarantee success and sometimes it is foolish to pursue a lost cause, but you cannot know if your cause is lost until you’ve tried and tried and tried and tried again even after people have told you to stop trying.

Those are my two cents from the cheap seats. I can’t come close to claiming to be a huge success so take them with a grain of salt. ((Also…I may need those two cents back…)