Another midlife crisis?
November 3, 2013 7:29 PM   Subscribe

I lean to the insane side of life when it comes to always trying to change. I have tried three times now to change from an enterprise programmer to SOMETHING! ANYTHING else... Here I am trying again... bound for failure?

I have it sweet I WILL admit it but I hate what I do. I have been a software programmer (self employed) for almost 20 years [no I never made it rich not even close] and I have done well. However, I have been an enterprise programmer the WHOLE time and I literally CRINGE when I have to do it especially the meetings!!! I have recently read "Rework" on the suggestion of a friend and that helped with me finally realizing why meetings are so bad. I find myself though "Planning" again to move away from that type of job.

Let me digress for a moment, the first time this happened I started a small comic book store. $150,000.00 of debt later I closed the store licked my wounds and went back to working in enterprise. I am ALMOST caught up with my debt.

Fast forward to NOW: I have almost 15,000 comics that I probably paid $40,000.00 - $50,000.00 with cover value of over $75Kfor I tried to sell them but the best I was offered was $0.05 each so $750.00 I literally thought about using the non-shiny ones as compost this summer. So what is the question? I have ALWAYS wanted to be a game developer and not the kinda person that makes huge blockbusters just enough to get by and be happy. I have done a ton of research and people like Jeff Vogel and some others are very inspiring but the thought of failing AGAIN is pretty crippling.

I have a LOT of non-monetary resources at my disposal
I have Thousands of Comics that I WOULD love to turn into something more than a few hundred bucks ("I" KNOW they are worthless but... really $750.00!)
I have a talent for learning and in the past three weeks have taught myself Unity and 3d modelling (THOUGH I AM REALLY NOT INTO 3d games per se) I had to get my mind into the concept of programming games so.

So is the idea I am doing make any sort of sense? I started a web store on shopify to sell my comics at $1.00/comic (at a loss to me of probably $1-$2) and INSTEAD of doing Kickstarter or something like that I am trying to drive donations/awareness from my OWN site, this is literally been setup in the past week even though I am by NO MEANS a web typer/designer.

Should I do this? This way? How can I promote my two sites (one is for soliciting donations ala kickstarter etc the other is the comic shop closeout site)
What else can I do this early to try and make the financial burden less (I know I need to invest some money but going into debt is a big NONO for me even if it is $100.00 for a piece of software)
Also selling the comics would allow me to move away from my soul sucking job... which is the biggest issue.
posted by mrgroweler to Work & Money (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The great thing about programming games -- at least smartphone games -- is that once you have a capable laptop and a phone to test on, your additional cost is literally $0. Work on your game on the side and fight the urge to turn it into a untested business right from the start. If you find that people want to buy your games, then you can quit doing enterprise gigs when the game income is enough to cover your expenses.
posted by the jam at 7:42 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Former RPG and COBOL programmer and systems manager here, who also wrote his share of JCL and CL, and integrated SQL in ...

Oh, never mind. You're running FROM something, not TO something. You blew a $150,000 investment on something that ticked your fancy, and you think, maybe, that the real problem with that plan was the investment required, and that if you don't invest much in related ventures, you've learned your lesson?

Eh, you've learned A lesson. Not THE lesson, and certainly not ALL THE LESSONS.

Let me suggest that, despite your lack of interest in meetings, that you need a business partner, even if only an exploration ventures business partner, and a viable financial plan or 20 (to have some options), and that you shouldn't quit the day job to build smartphone adventures on the backs of recognizable comic characters. Slow your roll, look around for like minded and more experienced folk, do some talking and some squawking, and get through the holidays in one piece. See what bubbles up. See what gets folks you know talking, even if you keep shut up.

Take a few business courses at a local community college through the spring. Develop an understanding of business finance, and risk assessment. Investigate franchise opportunites. Meet some accountants, and some lawyers, and maybe even some commercial bankers. Go to some Chamber of Commerce meetings in your area, and collect business cards and stories. Visit new startups in your area, and be respectful and encouraging. Begin to describe yourself to others as an entrepeneur, or as an investor, with a straight face. Check out SCORE.

Do nothing irrevocable, until you know you're no longer in crisis.
posted by paulsc at 8:18 PM on November 3, 2013 [11 favorites]

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