Who doesn’t dream about having their own business? Although mowing lawns and shoveling snow were not glorious ways to make money, at a young age I learned that I’d rather have my own business than earning my allowance taking out the garbage. Unfortunately, school is a major distraction for most of us but fortunately, many of my best friends in college had fathers that were entrepreneurs and I studied and played in an environment where entrepreneurship was considered the natural conclusion to a career in engineering.
The study of engineering for me, meant the world would be my oyster but practicing engineering in the world of work led me to realize that I had little room to realize my true potential. In essence, I had become a follower and had little means to discover who I really was and I was experiencing little success at being what employers wanted me to be. The key to becoming profitable as an entrepreneur is to create a product or service that is market driven and to do that you need to find a niche where you can express your specialty. Having little idea of my true identity, determining where I could be an authority proved challenging but the drive to have a social life subsequent to the loss of social opportunities that college presented drove my interest in telephone party lines and then Internet chat rooms.
My love affair with Second Life began around 2007 when yahoo chat rooms had finally degenerated into dodging bots, even in the Books and Literature room and, I decided to take a leap of faith. In addition to augmenting my real-life social-life I also entertained notions of modeling a new life that included a return to an engineering career as well as entrepreneurship. I visualized myself starting an automotive engineering company: design and build of high performance race cars. With that effort, not only could I model a lifestyle that included a return to engineering after a lengthy hiatus, but also finally teach myself how to program a computer.
It was a particularly exciting time in Second Life because mesh was still in a nascent state and the promise of a complete overhaul of nearly every industry creating material goods was at hand. Based on how-to books on Second Life entrepreneurship, Internet research and, tutorials on youtube, I began to prepare myself for entry into this opportunity laden new environment. I learned Photoshop to create textures, 3ds Max to do solid modeling, Poser to do animations and scripting to bring life to otherwise static creations.
I had a variety of different ideas for products but I wanted to start with something relatively simple and I found a series of videos on youtube teaching solid modeling of furniture. Learning how to use 3ds Max was challenging but having had experience with learning Solidworks, it seemed a lot of the concepts were very similar. With the completion of my first chair, I got certified to be a Second Life creator of mesh by taking an intellectual property quiz, uploaded my first model to Linden Lab’s experimental grid and began attending meetings facilitated by Linden Lab employees informing creators of new developments.
I’d learned about group facilitation skills by attending support groups for people suffering with depression around 1997 but it wasn’t until starting a support group for entrepreneurs that I learned how to apply that skill in a powerful manner that enabled the potential for profit. Starting a business in Second Life had proven to be more challenging than I had expected and assuming that others were having the same issues I started a meetup.com to learn more about how to start a business and help others with their own startup initiatives.
I surveyed around 15 different kinds of businesses during the course of running the entrepreneur’s support group, took an adult education course about entrepreneurship and, pursued self-study from text books and youtube tutorials. Daytrading had initially captured my imagination around 2000 when I stumbled across the Bloomberg channel while home sick. Lucky for me, I had a cousin who taught finance and investment courses at a local university. Having done some preliminary Internet research on daytrading I became aware of the controversy that surrounded the legitimacy of the field and I was excited to be able to seek his advice in this regard. In addition, he invited me to audit several courses in finance and investment to form a rock solid base upon which to begin my new business.
Performing research to become a successful trader was challenging but having studied engineering in graduate school, I had experienced the excitement that the quest for knowledge had imbued and learning about day trading was just as exciting. A friend of mine showed me how you can start with a trading simulation that did not involve the use of real money so you could test your ideas without having to suffer any losses. I found numerous books, youtube videos and other Internet resources upon which to draw and developed methods for analyzing the markets that were unique. In order to validate my research I created a meetup group for traders and began teaching others about techniques I had developed.
Making money in The Virtual World in some ways requires unique skills but in other regards, real world entrepreneurship involves many skills that are transferable. Performing a skills inventory from a job search book like What Color is My Parachute can help you learn about your favorite skills. In order to establish credibility you need to find the niche that is not only market driven but also reflects your specialty. Facilitating support groups enabled me to bring together others who shared my interests and there was a mutual exchange of knowledge. Authorship is another great way to establish your authority if attaining the leadership skills to run groups seems beyond your grasp right now. With the initiation of each business venture that I began, I always created a support group in the real world but I could not have been successful without the 24/7 feedback that I was able to obtain in The Virtual World.