We’ve seen how a dream, plus a combination of other factors, led me to realise that it was time for me to take the plunge into the murky waters of creating my own magazine.
But there’s a big difference between dreaming and doing, and there were a number of specific hurdles to be jumped before I could open that first delivery from the printers, sniff the fresh ink and sit back and admire ‘my baby’.
Like anyone planning to launch a new enterprise, what I needed was a business plan. In order to create that plan, I needed to answer the following questions:
- What is the Unique Selling Point of the magazine?
- Who will buy the magazine?
- How many of these people are there and where are they?
- How will the magazine be produced?
- Should the magazine be produced as paper, digital or both?
- Who will contribute to the magazine?
- How big will the magazine be in terms of page count?
- How frequently will the magazine be published?
- If paper, how will the magazine be printed and distributed?
- Where will the magazine be sold?
- How will the magazine be marketed and advertised?
- What should the cover price be?
- How much income can be generated from the magazine?
- Is the project worthwhile at all?
- If I decide to go ahead, when should I launch the magazine?
- What are the costs associated with each of the preceding questions?
- And last, but by no means least, how will getting this enterprise off the ground be paid for?
Each of these questions required some clear thinking, beginning with those aspects that come under the remit of ‘market research’.
In essence, market research is simply a tool to find out whether your potential customers think you have a product that they will actually buy. It is simply foolhardy to imagine that “if we build it, they will come”. History is littered with the debris of ill-considered projects that nobody wanted.
But let me end this post with the very first question of all that I asked:
- Am I going to go it alone, create a partnership, or create a company?
Initially, the plan was to launch the magazine in collaboration with a fellow enthusiast I met online, a charming and intelligent man. After meeting a few times and discussing options, we created a company together — Battlegames Ltd — and began working on the project on the basis that he would be able to provide the initial capital, and I would provide the production expertise and be the ‘front man’. His role would be to run the administrative aspects of the magazine and, with a background in publishing, he would be able to provide expertise in dealing with distribution and some editiing and liaison functions. His wife, who had a similar background, was to be the Company Secretary and have an advisory role.
Unfortunately, as can happen in life, things didn’t quite turn out as we planned, for reasons that will remain private, and just weeks before the first issue was due to be printed, he had to pull out of the deal. We parted on good terms, he and his wife relinquished all their shares in the company to me, and I am grateful that we have remained firm friends since. Chapter closed.
At that point, faced with a sudden dearth of seed capital, I could have sensibly pulled the plug, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Ah, well, nice idea; some other time”.
In fact, after looking at myself in the mirror for a while the following day, I heard myself say, “Fuck it, I’m gonna do it anyway!”.
Next time, we’ll look at the reasoning behind that apparently brash decision: the results of my market research.