If you start almost any kind of business in Second Life, sooner or later, you’ll have to hire employees, or take on business partners. And this process can make or break you.
Anyone offering jobs in Second Life is going to be swamped with newbies looking for work; this is both a good and bad thing. Good because you will have a wide variety of candidates to choose from; bad because, without a crystal ball (of which none exist in SL), there’s no way to know in advance which ones are going to be competent and which ones are going to be flakes, or idiots.
I’ll offer one piece of fairly obvious advice: Competence is a force multiplier. I’d rather have one employee, competent and focused, than a whole club-ful of some of the dumbshits that have come our way, at the Cutlass and at the Gin Rummy. You want the kind of employees that can take direction–and follow through on that direction–and that take their roles and responsibilities seriously. With someone like that, I’ll have no trouble parting with my Lindens to pay their wages.
There are those out there, unfortunately, that insist on treating SL as “just a game.” They don’t realize that there are real people behind those avatars…real people that are counting on them. When one of these people blows off their responsibilities, that causes headaches in the business owners (i.e. us) as we have to scramble to cover for them. My advice here: If you find an employee that says “Ah, this is all only a game,” remind them of where the door is.
Managing these employees can also be a non-trivial task. SL doesn’t really provide all the facilities necessary for managing employee rosters, schedules, and so forth, so we took a cue from Soulmates and set up a “corporate intranet” site. (We used the Joomla content-management system, which is also what Soulmates uses. There are, no doubt, other solutions out there.) With this system, employees can read our procedures, post their availability, get the latest schedules, and so forth. And yes, we have written procedures for all of our positions, just to make sure there are no misunderstandings about what we expect.
Now, I mentioned the subject of “business partners” above; this generally means “people who have contributed tier to buy the land for your business.” The remarks I’ve made above about employees needing to be serious and competent goes double for business partners; people who don’t pull their weight but still expect to share in the business’s rewards can be some of the largest pains in the ass a business owner can have. Especially if you can’t afford to kick them out without possibly either losing your land or taking on more tier than you can afford.
Anyone starting a business in SL would do well to read some good business advice books, whether it’s How To Win Friends And Influence People, The One Minute Manager, Leadership Secrets of Attilla The Hun, or what have you. It’ll give you more advice than I ever could…