This is a seminar ran by Sergeytov to talk about IC businesses and the challenges faced. Icarus is currently the trade admin on OS, and is willing to help with other business questions as well.
Sergeytov waves to everyone here. "Okay guys, the purpose of this seminar is to help run an IC business. So first I'd like to just ask: How many of you guys have a character that has tried to run one?"
Spicewhisker says, "Tried? No, I want both of my current chars to start them"
Valerie says, "If by tried you mean failed before doing much, me. :>"
Jeri Robbins has only con...oh wait sbs is a business
Sergeytov nods, "Okay, what we're here for is to help with starting and running them. This is not meant to enhance your knowledge on accounting or finance or anything involving a lot of numbers. First thing we must remember about Businesses on OS is that this is much more like an episode of The Apprentice or playing a business sim than serious business operation. Namely: Your first priority in running a business is an excuse to generate roleplay for yourself and others. Profit, while nice, is not our main objective here."
You say, "If you are selling a good: You can look into the +trade system which will provide a revenue stream, get you contact with shippers and other business beings, and have a coded reassurance you're getting somewhere. This works good if you're selling a homogenius product, like grain, or metals. If you are selling custom made items, you're better off, for the purposes of roleplay, treating your product like a service."
You say, "While goods are pretty well spelled out in terms of how to make money, services are more common and more challenging. Services, for the most part, are not needed by most people. That means you have to find a reason to make people want to come to you and roleplay buying your product. - If I sell clothes, for instance, I would want to advertise custom descriptions. Something that is cool to have and unique."
You say, "In the end, the true product is roleplay, it's just a matter of how you provide it."
Spicewhisker ahhs softly. "What if you wanted to make a store of sorts? And for example a traveling gun store? Would that even be possible?"
Sergeytov nods to Spicewhisker, "A gun store would be more a legal problem, and you'd want to contact staff for the coded objects needed but it's possible. Remember, you need to give them a reason to come to you to spend their credits, instead of going up to a vendor."
Spicewhisker says, "Ahh, I know it sounds even worse, but would we be allowed to sell special firearms? Like ones that our company/buisness made that couldn't be /bought/ from a vendor?"
You say, "Now, while I said profit isn't important, it sure is nice, that's our character's IC motivation most likely. :> How to do this: Three major ways: Use +earn to simulate NPCs, use +Trade, and roleplay. - +earn is nice just so you get money coming in that's coded, while the other two provide real roleplay. - Spice: You'd have to bring that up, but there is a gunsmithing skill so I don't see why not."
Spicewhisker nods, as his alt is a gunsmith. Maybe like a special line of shotguns or something for space crews.
You say, "So there's are background, the terms we're using. - The real reason we're here though is to talk about how to run a business, however. Not to just go into the theory of MUSH economics. :> So that's my next part I want to discuss. Namely, if you're just a single person operation the extent of what you're doing is probably posting and saying 'product for sale, contact person x' which is all well and good. The bigger your company is, the more people you can make a place for. Running a business is kind of like running a ship: You need people on and active, providing activity."
You say, "Let's go with your example spice, and say I want to sell customized guns. - What I would do is post that I'm selling them, go to somewhere weapons are legal/relatively easy to get and find customers in need. Your average thug won't need a special gun, and it's a niche industry, but you might find the occassional rich guy out there that wants something real special. Along with that you could advertise weapon repair so you get more people coming in."
You say, "It's like sales: Get people coming in that door! Let people know that 'hey, that guy is a good RPer, seems like a lot of fun'"
You say, "While realistically some niche markets are nice, you can be too much of a niche, else no one will need to RP with you for anything. - Okay, I'm now opening the floor up to questions from the audience."
You say, "Feel free to raise your hand or give some quick signal that you have a question."
YS-1967C pops out a red flashing light and attaches it to its head.
Sergeytov points to YS, "Shoot."
Spicewhisker hides! The fuzz is after my fuzz!
YS-1967C says, "Any suggestions on running a 'soft' business, such as a restaurant?"
Sergeytov nods, "A restaurant is much like a service. Biggest issue you'll be facing is that it's not like many people pay real coded money for the goods. It's not something you run to make a coded profit. The best thing you can do with a restaurant is try getting a bartender (or play one yourself) and arrange to run small events. Like sales, get people in the door and having fun at your place."
YS-1967C noodles. "I thought as much."
You say, "You could try hosting for prominent locals, or get a band performing. Some reason for a lot of people to gather somewhere and roleplay is what you need to do."
You say, "Anyone that's tried to run a business before: What are the obstacles you've faced?"
Valerie never knew where to begin. "And even if I knew that, I don't know how to get people to come in."
Spicewhisker says, "Stupid people! Poor People! Flea Marketers!"
Valerie has issues with writing things the entire mush will see. like, refuses to do it. ;>
Valerie says, "So advertising is usually right out."
You say, "So you either need to find someone willing to do it for enough money or get over that fear. The +bboards and +news are great resources get advertise to the entire MUSH that you're in business. You might not get a flood right away, but you will be able to get people's attention."
Gage perks up, "Don't forget the +calendar! If you have something special planned, you can always post it on the +calendar."
Sergeytov nods. "Those are the big 'public' resources you're working with."
Roughfur says, "You can also ask an admin to put out a mailing list e-mail."
Gage says, "Anyone can post to the Yahoo Group..."
Gage says, "But you could ask us to post it up on the E-Zine. "
Fulton says, "You can contact one of your local tv stations and have ads appear on the news."
You say, "Anyone else?"
Spicewhisker says, "Nope, not really...got money enough to start a buisness at least"
Sergeytov will declare the seminar closed then. I'll post it to the forums and people can post additional questions there. Thanks for coming everyone.