Today’s blog post is a guest post from Collin Stover. Collin is a serial entrepreneur, fellow video-game lover, and founder of the The 20 Something Entrepreneur, which is a blog and podcast dedicated to helping the young and the young at heart find more success in their businesses by learning from other young entrepreneurs who are still “in the trenches” figuring things out.
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Over the past 6 months, I have logged over 500 hours in a single video game, and it has been surprisingly helpful for my business.
They’re called MMORPG’s (Massively-Mulltiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) which is a fancy way of describing a game where you create a character and progress along with millions of other players from around the world via the Internet.
The draw of these games is that there is so much that you can do and explore, evidenced by the fact that I have played (along with my girlfriend…which I feel it necessary to include so you don’t really think I’m a loser) for around 20 hours a week for 6 months and have still not even made a dent in everything there is to accomplish.
I didn’t originally think of myself as the type of person to get wrapped up in an entirely virtual world, but yet here I am, and it has had profound effects on my entrepreneurial pursuits, but not in the way one might assume: it’s actually been helpful.
So, how has it helped my business?
Let’s explore some of the lessons I have learned from the game Final Fantasy XIV over the past 6 months to see how we can apply them to our business and marketing efforts. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know that there is a lot that can be learned from playing video games!
1. Econ 101 Totally Applies
While all of the new information out there about social media advertising, Search Engine Optimization, and Nostalgia Marketing can be helpful, it can also make us lose sight of the very basics in business that govern everything we do.
The golden rule of economics: Supply and Demand.
And boy, is this ever true in Final Fantasy.
In the game, you have the ability to put items like armor, weapons, potions, and crafting materials on to a “market board” where other players can purchase them with currency they earn in-game from doing quests and selling their own items.
You have the ability to “name your price” when you sell items, but what other players are willing to pay is determined by that golden rule of supply and demand. In the beginning, I thought it would be a great idea acquire really expensive items and sell them for really high prices. The problem was that there weren’t very many people who could afford to purchase these items, so the demand was low. If it wasn’t an essential item, no one was buying, and it would simply take up my allotted space on the market board.
This is the same in business. you might have the best product or service in the world, but if there simply isn’t a big market for it, you aren’t going to be successful. You may have to broaden your focus a bit to enlarge your market.
In Final Fantasy, I also couldn’t get anywhere by trying to sell the things that were abundant, because the supply was just too high. With 100 people selling the same item, prices quickly dropped to profit-loss levels. Back to business, if the market for what you are selling is too big it can be hard to compete, so you may have to niche down.
I had to do some experimenting, but I found some items that had the perfect blend: a high enough demand that there was a seemingly endless pool of people to buy, but a low enough supply of other people selling them that I became one of the only options.
Simple? Yes. But like I said, with all that is out there today it can become easy to forget about the basics. They still apply as much today as they did when capitalism was “invented” centuries ago.
2. People Will Pay a Premium for Convenience
There are two types of potential buyers in any industry: those who have time-leverage, and those who have money-leverage.
Those who have more time than money (time-leverage) will spend more time learning things themselves and building their own solutions to problems.
Those who have more money than time (money-leverage) will pay a premium to have things done for them so that they can save their own precious time.
In Final Fantasy, many items can be bought from non-player vendors for a fraction of the price you would pay for the same exact item on the market board, but in order to do so, you might have to spend 10 minutes traveling to that vendor. For those with lots of money in the game, they would much rather just spend 10 or 20 times the cost of the item in order to save that 10 minutes.
They are paying premium to save time, and the same applies to real life. Here’s the key: you want to sell to both audiences.
For example, if you are a Web designer, you probably charge pretty high prices for your services. There are undoubtedly going to be some prospects who approach you and cannot afford what you sell. For these people, you should have a product ready to go that teaches them step-by-step how they can do it themselves.
Those who have money-leverage are still going to hire you even though you have this product because they don’t want to spend their time DIYing it, and those with time-leverage will happily pay you to learn what you know, and that’s money you wouldn’t have otherwise made.
3. Build a Network by Helping Others
A staple in MMORPGs are “dungeons,” which are instances where you are fighting monsters along with 3-7 other players from around the world, coordinating with each other’s strengths and roles. Everyone has their own job to do, and if someone messes up, it could mean the entire group dies.
Because of this teamwork mechanic, the game becomes much more fun when you’re able make friends and build groups that you can go into dungeons with instead of being matched up with random strangers whom you have never met and therefore don’t have synergy with.
So I set out to recruit strangers who I met in the game into a group known as a “guild” so that when it came time for me to do new dungeons I could just call on them to help me out.
But one thing you will learn in the game and in business is that you shouldn’t expect anything for free. There’s a lot to do in this game, as in life, so why should anyone help you accomplish your goals without getting anything in return?
I learned this quickly, so I started offering to do old content that I had already got through to new players to help with their learning curve.
Did I get a lot out of redoing old dungeons? Not up front…but just like in business, the law of reciprocity kicks in when you help somebody else out, and they felt obliged to help me in return.
Now whenever I get to a new dungeon, I just throw out a message to my group of friends who I have helped over the past few months and I very quickly have a full group of people to kill monsters with!
The same applies for business when trying to create relationships with others. You can’t expect them to help you for nothing, because their time is valuable. You have to deliver immense value first, and only then will they consider helping you.
Some think I’m crazy for spending so much time in a virtual world, but as an entrepreneur, I am constantly thinking of how I can relate things back to my businesses. There are learning opportunities all around us. Now, off to escape into the planet Hydaelyn for 5 more hours!