Lessons I Learned Today 5/26/09 – Create Your Own Second Life

This is a digest and recap of highlights, quotes, and comments from articles and discussions posted on this date on the Applied Entrepreneurship, LinkedIn group site.

*Is Second Life becoming a First Business? By Adam Toren

Second Life is a 3D “virtual world” created in 2003. “Major companies, like Kraft, Walt Disney, Coca-Cola, IBM and the Apple Store, as well as small businesses, are already taking advantage of the marketing opportunities that the virtual world Second Life brings to their real life businesses.”

“It’s free to join and create an avatar that represents your digital persona. Once you have your virtual being, you begin living your virtual life. You can either recreate your current life or create a whole new “second” life. Those living in the Second Life community can shop for virtual goods, travel, take part in activities, go to concerts and socialize. Second Life residents pretty much do all of the regular things that go on in the real world, plus much more. Second Life evolves daily based on the imagination of its residents.”

“Coca-Cola conducted a virtual thirst campaign in conjunction with its real world marketing efforts. From a systems standpoint, IBM is using Second Life to test the functionality of its programs between real and virtual worlds. Besides having a marketing presence on Second Life, IBM is also using the virtual world to improve global communication among its workforce without incurring travel expenses. With their virtual avatars, employees participate in seminars and corporate meetings.”


*15 Helpful Business Tips to THRIVE in Tough Times! By Adam Toren

This article outlines 15 ways you can position your business to face any type of diversity that comes its way.

  1. Review your business procedures for effectiveness and streamline your business practices.
  2. Work smarter and use the latest advances in technology to their potential.
  3. Express your appreciation for your customers by implementing measures to show it.
  4. Know what marketing techniques are and are not working for your business.
  5. Use the Internet to search for services to streamline administrative functions, enhance selling strategies and expand marketing efforts.
  6. Expand your customer base by thinking of other ways where you can reach a whole new segment of the population.
  7. Use the Internet to get national recognition from email publishers of entrepreneur and business publications.
  8. The most effective business comes from word of mouth. So become more involved in community functions, events or organization.
  9. Evaluate what is and isn’t working and put more efforts into what started you out as a successful entrepreneur in the first place, core business.
  10. Consider revising your pricing strategies in order to thrive long-term in an unfavorable economy.
  11. There is a lot of competition among vendors to attract new business, so you could realize some serious savings in this area.
  12. Do a line item cost analysis for each expense so you will be able to identify areas that need greater attention. It’s also important to get a handle on any debt or to manage inventory.
  13. Consider reducing hours, shortening the workweek, or job sharing, as well as introducing incentive strategies to award employees for generating business or reducing expenses.
  14. Utilize all forms of media when brainstorming ideas.
  15. Create ways that make it easier for everyone to do business with you.


*The New Era of Copyrighting by Adam Toren

“Creative Commons is a nonprofit Massachusetts corporation that provides free licenses and legal tools so a creator of intellectual property can easily indicate how the work can be used. Creative Commons offers three different license formats: Commons Deed, which is a summary of how the intellectual property can be used; Legal Code, which displays the legal wording of the actual license in its entirety; and Metadata, which contains the important elements of the license in machine-readable coding so it can be found by search engines.”

“Creative Commons allows people to promote and market their intellectual property in a less restricted manner while still enjoying copyright protections that are necessary for their particular work. Anything traditionally covered under copyright law, including books, songs, films, videos, photographs, audio and visual recordings, websites, blogs and software documentation, is protected under a Creative Commons license. While this approach gives you more freedom with creative opportunities, you might still want to copyright your work for complete legal protection.”


*Philip Mossop, co-founder, The Green House

“There are a lot of new laws telling businesses what they need to do to comply as well as lots of media spotlight on businesses performing ethically and ‘green’ but very few businesses employ people who understand all these areas. The green house provides that service for them.”

“Confucius said if you enjoy what you do then you never have to work another day in your life and I found this to be true when starting the green house.” 

“We went through all the usual problems of starting a business – finance, getting customers, managing cashflow and so on but it never felt a chore to get up in a morning and go to the office an not once did I feel like going back to my old life and getting a 9-5 job for someone else.”

“Our strategy was to be commercially and socially responsible – never to put profit at the expense of ethics. It is still part of our mission statement today and one of our core values. We also deliberately thought like a technology company – always innovating, thinking of new ways to deal with problems, challenges and processes.”

“We have begun building strategic partnerships with operators that allow us all to benefit from each other’s services…”


*Young Entrepreneurs Turn Ideas Into Reality At The Digital Open by Matthew Toren

Digital Open is an innovative expo for global youth. As an online technology community and competition, Digital Open supports youth from around the world who have an innovative project idea or just want to share ideas with their peers. It’s free, with registration needed to create your Digital Open profile. 

As part of the Digital Open community, you can create a blog and post your thoughts or share interesting links. You can also send notes to peers, comment on notes of others, or take part in the Q&A forum. Or you can challenge your knowledge of free and open technology by successfully completing quizzes and essays that unlock badges that you can embed on your blogs or websites. 

The purpose of Digital Open is to give young entrepreneurs a global online community where they can showcase how they would change or enhance the world through the use of free and open technology. Young entrepreneurs can express their ideas, share their expertise and enter their projects through text, photo, video, or a combination of the three.

“Digital Open is all about creating global openness in the world so that collaborative solutions to any problem can be achieved.”


*Pat Wood and Claire Lewis, founders of TruffleShuffle.com

“We never actually went into this with the aim of starting a business – it all happened organically!” 

“Basically, the idea for TruffleShuffle came to us back in 2004 – my partner Pat was wearing a Goonies T-Shirt he’d bought from an American website on a night out and got so many nods and comments from friends and even total strangers, all wanting to know where they could buy their own, that we realised we may have stumbled upon a little niche in the market. ” 

“Retro T-Shirts weren’t widely available in the UK at the time so while I was studying for my law degree and Pat was holding down a full time job, we bought a couple more to sell on eBay in our spare time, just to get a feel for whether there really was a demand.”

“www.TruffleShuffle.com is an online fashion store specialising in all things retro! From Thundercats to Dirty Dancing, My Little Pony to Top Gun, Button Moon to Barbie, we stock over 1,000 officially licensed tees, hoodies, gifts and accessories, all inspired by your favourite childhood memories.”

“Building on our knowledge of this market, we have also founded our own in-house brand and licensing arm, Famous Forever which as well as providing product for TruffleShuffle, also sells tees and hoodies through the High Street both in the UK and internationally.”

“Lastly, we run another online store in conjunction with the London street wear label, Amplified which specialises in classic band tees called http://www.SugarBullets.com”

“Because of the way the business was started, we didn’t really have a strategy as such although right from the start, we knew we wanted to make sure that the customer was king.”

“We were big fans of online shopping, even before we started the business but were often frustrated by companies who seemed to think that the fact they operated online gave them an excuse to hide from their customers.”

“Therefore, we wanted to make sure this wasn’t the case for us and the fact that our approach to customer service is something we’re congratulated for on a daily basis still makes me smile.”

“Be prepared to work very, very hard – starting a business is not for people looking for the easy life! On the flipside though – the rewards are definitely worth it!”

“Cash is king! Keep a keen eye on the finances at all times and if that’s not your strong point, hire someone who can.”

“Don’t skimp on customer service – not only are satisfied customers your best marketers but repeat custom alone is responsible for around 25-30 per cent of our turnover so it really pays to treat them well.”

“Enjoy it!”


*Launch a small business in 10 steps (parts 1 & 2) by Dan Matthews

“Every new business start-up has its own unique set of targets, problems and needs – so no two small businesses are alike. But there are certain golden rules common to all start-ups that you can follow to make sure your start-up business has the best possible chance of survival.”

1)    Learn about your market. Market research is the most fundamental thing you can do before setting up in business.

2)    Write a business plan.

3)    Create a ‘business’ legally.

4)    Get proper funding. Having too little money at start-up is one of the biggest reasons new businesses fail.

5)    Find business premises.

6)    Buy the right tech and equipment.

7)    Develop products and services. Once you have uncovered a need for your product or service, you’ll need to find a way of getting it to your target market. This process is what makes your business unique.

8)    Recruit staff. “They say your people are your business’ strongest asset, and this is no truer than in the case of start-up businesses. So choose wisely. Many start-ups headhunt people they have worked with in the past and have direct experience of managing.”

9)    Advertise and market your business. It doesn’t matter how good your offering is, you won’t sell it if no one knows about it.

10) Get paid.


*How To Foster Healthy Conflict by Steven Berglas

Healthy conflict resolution bolsters morale. “If no one is ever told they’re wrong, how can they ever truly take satisfaction in being right? The only way evaluators, advisers and even co-workers have any credibility is by offering the occasional critique. And that means being able to have an honest conversation about what works and what doesn’t.”

“There will always be “yes men”–some merely feckless, others full-blown snakes in the grass. Don’t hire them, don’t cultivate them and certainly don’t take your cues from them. Instead, invite conflict–the kind that creates and motivates. Above all, thank those with the courage to tell you the truth. Your company’s survival depends on it.”


What I Think

I think, using applied entrepreneurship, ” You can either recreate your current life or create a whole new “second” life,” to borrow a few words from Adam Toren’s article, Is Second Life becoming a First Business? Granted, Toren was talking about a 3D “virtual world, but why can’t you do this in the real world?

What is stopping you? Look at those fresh faces of Pat Wood and Claire Lewis, for instance, founders of TruffleShuffle.com and other businesses. It sounds like all they did is to follow the ten steps outlined by Dan Matthews in his articles, Launch a small business in 10 steps (parts 1 & 2), but clearly they had also some pretty good instincts of their own. In addition to taking those standard steps, they understood they needed to test the market for their products, and they took things one stage at a time.

First, they saw what they believed to be a demand for a product. They then did some market sampling, testing customer demand. Then they proceeded without pouring in a bunch of cash, while staying with their “day job” or educational track, until such time as the business was well underway and it pulled them out of the comfort zone and into the entrepreneurship zone.

Finally, they pursued growth in careful stages, keeping costs low with strategic partnerships, and expanding into new business arenas where they could essentially follow the money.

Along the way, they certainly focused on customer service, giving the customer the product and service the customer wanted, rather than coming up with something they wanted to sell, and then trying to figure out a way to finance the business and get customers to buy the product.

Several of the articles posted on this date show just how much the paradigm has changed, in terms of utilizing the various technologies now available to allow entrepreneurs to test and then demonstrate their entrepreneurial skills virtually, before risking anything in the real world. In more and more cases every day, these journeys into virtual entrepreneurship solidify real bricks and mortar dreams, or become the cash equivalent generated from a virtual marketplace.

The following is one of my favorite quotes from the articles posted on this date:

“The world has faced tough economic times before and many a company has survived and even thrived during them. The successful ones are those that are led by an entrepreneur who understands the value of their business and is proactive in meeting a challenge head on with a positive and motivating attitude.” – 15 Helpful Business Tips to THRIVE in Tough Times! By Adam Toren

What is stopping you from creating your very own “second” life?

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If you enjoyed my impression of these articles, why don’t you read them for yourself and see what you and I missed or hit? Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.

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Posted in Applied Entrepreneurship, business, Business life cycle, Buying a business, copyright, entrepreneur, Family business issues, Financial security, Financing a business, Growing a business, Innovation, Intellectual property, Law, open source, Perseverance, Personal happiness, Planning for a business, Recession strategies, Running a business, Selling a business, Social networking & media, Starting a business, technology, Thinking about a new business
3 comments on “Lessons I Learned Today 5/26/09 – Create Your Own Second Life
  1. Wow. Seem like a nice ideas you have here for my search engine marketing for me to compete better with my niche market.

    Ultra Yellow Pages

    • bizlawblog says:

      I figure it never hurts to take a peek at what the smart and/or successful people are doing. I try to find them and bring the best to you.

      If this helps you beat your competition, then I’m doing my job.


  2. […] Like Pat Wood and Claire Lewis, founders of TruffleShuffle.com, featured in my May 26th post, Lessons I Learned Today 5/26/09 – Create Your Own Second Life, the folks at Threadless let the customers design their own […]

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