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Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label planning. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


The first thing we do when we enter the virtual worlds is find out ways to earn virtual currency. It doesn’t take us long to understand that to fulfil all our desires in a virtual setup, we would need an inflow of virtual currency. If we could make good friends and we like what we have and we could stick long enough, sooner or later, there is one more desire we all have, “Why not start a business?”
Few people start a trade ingame within a inworld, like Second Life has G&S System to trade goods, food, metal etc for Gorean Community. Few indulge in clothing line by either making original mesh items like Just Because and others re-texturing the mesh items adding prim clothing to make it unique like Heth Haute Couture. Few get into sale of estates like IrishGent of Seychelles Isles and others either get into re-renting the lands and skyboxes or designing the sim like Sera Bellic. Few make homes like Robert Galand of Galand Homes others get into making furniture like what’s next. The list of established businesses can get exhaustive. These big names of Second Life, inspire us to ask a simple question, “Why not me?”

Exactly, why not me? We too can start a business. We too can run a successful one. So what’s the next step? I asked three such entrepreneurs around the grid for their views and also the mistakes that we make when we indulge in a start up in a virtual world. Here are their replies.


Indea Vaher: Second Life is microcosm of our real world, and anything that is achievable in the real is obtainable in our virtual world.  Most residents want to try their hand at the business they’ve always dreamed of which can be opened with a click of a mouse. 
Sometimes we jump into these businesses based on our own passions, our fantasy of the dream job we wished we had in real life, the postal worker becomes an artist and opens their own gallery, the hardware store clerk becomes a big time club owner, and with a few clicks of a mouse, the retired building inspector is now a popular DJ.  People have found in Second Life that any business you want to start you can in a blink of eye, however what is often not done in the virtual world is a study of where your target audience is or if there is a demand for the commodity/services you have to offer.
Many jump into a venue without a business plan or revenue projections to ensure profitability and as a result fail.  However, for many of these businesses simply turn into social venues, and they justify the expense like a hobby doing something they enjoy and never get a return on their investment.
The most successful entrepreneurs in virtual worlds are those  who approach it in the same manner as it’s done in the real world, they establish that there is a demand for their creations, products or services. They have the necessary professional skills to create the product they offer, and for many it’s usually utilizing a skill they’ve obtained in real life.  They don’t think in terms of lindens but in actual currency, reconciling expenditures with incoming revenue.

The following is the conversation with IrishGent, owner of Seychelles Isles.

Debby Sharma: What are the few pointers that you would suggest a resident before they start a business?
IrishGent: Determine the business you want to start.  Research the basics using other like companies on SL. If you are selling products using Market Place, research (wiki) as a starting point on the setup of your account, TOS (Terms of Service), Copy Write Laws, etc. If you are interested in being a Land Lord, research other like estates on their land offerings and creating a brand. 
Debby Sharma: According to your experience, which has been the most difficult time while you started your start up?
IrishGent: Resource management and staffing.  SL is a volatile universe with peoples interest working on an estate mirroring the volatile culture of SL. Sitting in front of their computers people have a different level of commitment which to say the least is lacking.  There are a few exceptions to this rule which I have been very fortunate to have a staff that is dedicated and very supportive.  It took many employees to get to this point but I must say I am impressed with my current staff.  Patience is a must giving everyone their objectives and assignments.  A long leash is a required so that they may maintain a level of balance between work and play in SL.
Debby Sharma: Should a resident start a virtual business with a motive of earning or for a generic motive of fun and pleasure?
IrishGent: I believe both.  Balance is a requirement in SL and to be out of balance you will see a negative effect on both.  That is established early on when you formulate the mission and vision of your business.
Debby Sharma: What mistakes according to you, do you see most virtual business committing to?
IrishGent: The big mistake from my perspective is micro management and not establishing realistic goals.  Remember SL has seasonality with the number of on-line avis.  You have to plan your business to adjust to this seasonality thus not to overestimate earnings to offset expenses.

The following conversation, I had with Sera Bellic, owner of Lick Sim Designs.

Debby Sharma: What are the few pointers that you would suggest a resident before they start a business?
Sera Bellic: Take some time to explore SL and find what you are passionate about.
Debby Sharma: According to your experience, which has been the most difficult time while you started your start up?
Sera Bellic: I have tried many different businesses. I think finding the one I was passionate about was the most difficult. Surprisingly, it was right under my nose.
Debby Sharma: Should a resident start a virtual business with a motive of earning or for a generic motive of fun and pleasure?
Sera Bellic: I think all business should start as something you did or do for fun, just because you love doing it. Then grow it as a business.
Debby Sharma: What mistakes according to you, do you see most virtual business committing to?
Sera Bellic: Not honing their skill, jumping in before really understanding Second Life.

The above interviews might have already given you an idea. Here is a short list of pointers that might be helpful.

·         Idea
Have an idea of what you want to do. If you already have it to your liking, then start by looking at other existing businesses. If possible join them as a staff and learn. It is wrong to imitate a business idea, but it is not wrong to learn from an actual business. May be in future, you may develop an idea along the lines. May be while working, you may have a completely new idea. But, this experience would be useful.

·         Time
It is very important that you have time for such business. Remember, it is a virtual world; although, there are exceptions who have made real money with virtual currency. Still, a business has its clients and clients are the only ones who keep a business steady. To satisfy your client, it is important that you have enough time for them.

·         Research
Although, this is a virtual world, still there are loads of Intellectual Property laws that are prevalent in every country. Read them, be thorough. In my two years of writing career, I have witnessed big business names being sued for real cash. So, it is highly advisable, you must know the laws like the copy right laws etc.

·         Budget and Audience
Prepare your statements, estimates of expenditure and incomes. Like in any real life business, there might me a need of investment, but the amount needs to be justifiable. It is not possible to incur losses for long periods of time. In my 3 years of virtual existence, I have witnessed over 7 businesses closing down due to this. Plot a draft may be, but have something as your spinal cord for the business. Understand who your clients are. Have a list of them ready in your spreadsheets. Even if you started the business for fun, it still needs to raise enough revenue to sustain your dream for long term.

·         Team
No business will ever survive the test of time without a team. It is the most difficult aspect of virtual business. One person can do all the job of a business, virtual or real. Sooner or later, you need another hand and it won’t come free or easy. Hence, the above point is important. By team, it doesn’t mean that you hire many people in your staff. Have as many as required. Have serious, enthusiastic and passionate people who also share your dream. It will be difficult in the start. Sometimes, it takes more than a year to find the right one and sometimes not. With this we come to the last point

·         Patient and Passionate
Be Patient. No business is built in a day. Some of your friends might get lucky and some not. Don’t lose hope. Success will turn eventually. The only thing that will drive you on will be passion. If you were passionate in the first place when the idea immerged, recognition is bound to follow.

I hope these pointers were helpful. If some of my dear readers are wondering, why take advice from a writer, to them I say, it may be just over 3 years in-world, but it includes 9 times failure in virtual writing career and over a dozen failures in trying to set up a successful virtual business. The above pointers are few that I have gathered while learning. Writing did not happen by chance but by a choice.