Starting your SL business right
This is exciting.. I get to write about something serious for a change.. and Nadine Nozaki's The winter Market is who I got to be teamed up with! Writing about serious stuff isn't exactly what I'm famous for. My blog usually covers the world of 1. "Me" 2. "Clubbing" 3. "Exploring" and that's pretty much it. The topic I've been assigned is: "What have you learned about running your SL business and/or what have you learned from watching how Linden labs run their business" not a horrible set of topics if I ran a typical SL business or paid any attention to how Linden Labs ran theirs (from reading other peoples blogs there appears to be some question as to if LL actually runs their business or just lets it drift from crisis to crisis.)
I guess the closest I can do is talk a little bit about how to run a business based on my observations of how I've seen other people do it. Umm. So.. ok. Maybe I shouldn't talk about that either.
Well.. I guess that leaves me with what I've ADVISED people to do when setting up or tweaking their SL business. (I get asked to take a look at new clubs from time to time. And on occasion even get asked a serious question.)
I recommend new businesses start out doing a bit of competitive analysis. (btw.. this is called a SWOT analysis) I suggest that from a marketing standpoint they start identifying their strengths and weaknesses relative to specific competitors then taking a hard look at the opportunities and threats that exist in the market they have chosen to be in. I usually suggest they look at the market in broad terms as not just the other businesses that are direct competitors to them but anyone that is or could satisfy the basic needs their business is addressing.
The core financial decisions I usually leave to them to unwind (having not bothered to take apart Linden Labs server rates) but I do encourage a new business to carefully review their market and decide just where they best fit relative to everyone else. And I always recommend people talk to and befriend others doing what they are doing. (even competitors can be share basic information.. such as business ratios.)
The other question that sometimes gets thrown at me is about the branding of their enterprise. This is somewhat easier. Each of us in SL is essentially a brand manager for our avatar. How clearly we project an easy to understand "image" is reflected in how quickly other people recognize us when our avatar enters a room. The secret to managing a businesses identity is like that: clarity and simplicity. Start by being known for something, then as you grow, try to keep close to that original central theme.
Ok.. so.. um.. an example maybe.. for me..
I guess the closest thing I do to running a business is my blog and my famous money-losing bday/rezzday events. (btw.. This isn't a full SWOT analysis. Just a taste.)
To my knowledge no-one else is putting on monthly parties open to everyone. A key strength is basing the parties on Bday/Rezzdays – everyone has one, we all love celebrating them. A key weakness is that they are usually celebrated amongst friends more than among strangers. An opportunity was the idea of a easily promoted monthly regularly scheduled event. (since the competition is regular club events, private events, and special events on irregular schedules) And a threat is that of course anyone can copy me (they just can't copy "me".
My blog is just fluff with an occasional seriously written post.. lots of pointing out the genius of the great people I know (their blogs and stuff), and great things in SL to go explore. (the fluff is actually branding messages about "me" cleverly disguised as entertainment)
Costs for events are staffing and promotion. Period. And all my costs for events and the blog are measured in time even more than in dollars. (Venues are not a big cost factor due to my moving them around month to month and due to every club desiring greater traffic.)
Branding issues. Well.. I know a lot of great people that are lots of fun to go to a party with. And.. ahem.. I like to think I'm kinda fun to have around too. All my events and my blog are strongly associated with me and my image. Not so much to flog my ego as to consistently tie my blog and the events I associate myself with to a central image.. in my case: "me" (and "I" am also a unique competitive advantage unduplicatable by anyone who'd want to try to copy me.)
So.. that's me. What's your business and brand all about?
Jordyn Carnell, "JC"