11 May 2020 | 13 Comments
On Friday I had a great chat with a friend in the book publishing industry. At one point in the conversation we delved into the topic of social media, and he asked why I chose to use “jameystegmaier” as my Instagram name instead of “stonemaiergames”.
My answer, in short, was, “If I knew then what I knew now, I would have chosen differently.”
But that really isn’t a good answer. We never have perfect information about the future. Instead, if I had asked myself a simple question from the start, I could have better prepared myself for a potential future:
What if this actually works?
For Instagram, as detailed here, I started posting on it once a day in 2018 as an experiment. I didn’t know if I would continue using it beyond a few weeks, nor did I know if anyone else would care.
However, if I had stopped to ask myself, “What if this actually works?”, I almost certainly would have used @stonemaiergames as my account name. That’s what people search for, it’s a better name for other people at Stonemaier to use (currently I’m the only one who posts there, but that could change), and it’s much better for the future in case a company wants to buy us.
Why not just change the name now? Well, I could, but I can’t just automatically migrate 24,000+ followers over to “stonemaiergames.” A few months ago I did actually make an account for @stonemaiergames, with the sole post referring people over to @jameystegmaier.
I think this question can help to avoid a number of future issues. To be clear, it’s the asking of the question I think is important–the answer doesn’t necessarily dictate what you do, because there are many possible realities, including those where this doesn’t work out.
Here are some categories and examples for which I wish I had asked myself, “What if this actually works?”:
- Social media account names: Kickstarter, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…the list goes on. When I started using each of these accounts for business, I wish I had asked myself the question.
- Financial accounts: If you run a one-and-done project as a sole proprietor, it’s not a big deal to create separate bank and PayPal accounts. But if there’s the potential for more, it’s a huge deal. Fortunately my accountant made me do this before I got too deep into Stonemaier Games.
- Fulfillment, stretch goals, and other Kickstarter considerations: Fulfilling 50 rewards requires a very different setup than 500 or 5000. You could barely reach your funding goal or wildly overfund–how does that impact your funding goal and stretch goals?
- Production quantities: This is a really tricky one, as all of the risk is on you if you have inventory you can’t sell. It’s a classic “plan for the best, prepare for the worst” category. There is no right answer (at least until it’s far too late to change anything), and I’ve been wrong in both directions even when I’ve asked the magic question.
- Budgeting for art, component quality, etc: In the very first printing of Viticulture in 2012, I chose to use 1mm cardboard for the vineyard mats instead of 1.5mm. At the time, I was well over budget, and the $0.20 or so we saved seemed like a big deal. However, if I had asked myself, “What if this actually works?”, I may have considered the possibility that we might make well over the 2500 units we made in the first print run (we recently made our 100,000th unit of Viticulture), I would have thought twice about using an inferior cardboard depth.
The list could go on–this question can apply to everything. It’s one I ask myself all the time, but I could ask it even more, and I will.
Can you think of a situation where you wish you had asked yourself, “What if this actually works?” Or perhaps a scenario where you did ponder this in advance, and it ended up helping you?
Also read: The 3 Funding Scenarios You Must Plan For
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