This year, I traveled to the Game Developers Conference (GDC) for the first time. It was a really great time and I met a number of iPhone gaming developers — many who I’d known online for many months.
Despite my outsider status, it was great community and a very entrepreneurial one. The explosion of the iPhone App Store has really put financial success within the reach of the indie developer. I spent a fair amount of time hanging out with Imangi Studios husband and wife team Keith Shepard and Natalia Luckyanova. Keith had quit from his day job almost a year ago, while his wife has just given notice so they could pursue their iPhone game company full time.
I think it’s a great move, even in this economy. They clearly have a growing business and have the opportunity to do what they love. There is some inherent risk involved, but the lost opportunity of not pursing it is simply too great.
Yet, it still constantly amazes me to read comments by people don’t seem to truly understand the risk/benefit balance in making such a decision, and put too much weight on the “safe” choice (which may not actually be the safe choice).
The biggest success story to date is one of Ethan Nicholas who developed the iPhone game iShoot. iShoot generated Ethan over $200,000 in one week and has since generated over $800,000. Ethan didn’t waste much time in quitting his day job as a programmer. And yet there are even people who have criticized Ethan for quitting his job, suggesting that it was not the “safe” choice.
I think in making that decision, there are a few important factors, and I think Ethan’s choice to quit was by far the “safer” choice. Factors to take into account include:
1. Replaceability of your current job
2. Income of your current job
3. Income of your side job
4. Potential income of your side job
In Ethan’s case, by staying at his (est. $100,000/year) day-job, he puts at risk his ($800,000/5 month) salary. The potential income for iPhone programming business is even greater and essentially has no limit. Even given the economy, I’d say his job as a programmer is reasonably replaceable. And in the end, he is much happier for the switch. There is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity factor in place as well. How many iPhone developers have a successful app? Now’s the time to invest in additional updates and followup games to take advantage of the momentum.
And if you don’t agree with that, would you suggest that someone who is making over $100,000 on their own business to get a 40-hour/week minimum wage ($15,000/year) job in an attempt to add more “safety” to their income? Because it’s essentially the same argument.
Obviously, this is an extreme example, and I suspect I’m preaching to the choir on this blog, but it was a topic that has been on my mind.