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My “Entrepreneurista” Challenge Day #2 – Geek Chic(k)

Every day, for at least 90 days, I’ll write on this blog my experience of aspiring woman entrepreneur. I’m based in Paris, France. Being bilingual, I want to reach out to a global clientele and I am currently on the planning phase of my international online business, an online business management company. I plan to launch it in March 2012.

This post talks about me, my background. I think it’s an essential part of starting a business. I mean a business here, not a month-to-month job that you own. I believe that if you start a business that is meant to last you a lifetime (or at least you ideally plan for that), then you must clearly know who you are and what you want in life. I answered all these questions while working on myself in the past months so I can sum them up here today.

I am absolutely, definitely, terribly geeky. 

I just couldn’t live without my VAIO, my Blackberry and my iPod.

After my years in University, I decided to explore further my passion for the digital world. I quickly discovered web design and web development and immersed myself for over 3 months learning full time the basic and advanced techniques related to CSS, HTML, PHP and MYSQL.

Then I discovered WordPress… and never looked back.

I found WordPress was such an absolutely fabulous mix of just about everything I learned before. I then came across various online opportunities and decided to get freelance writing jobs. Being a Literature Student, I loved the idea of applying everything I’ve learned along the years and turn it into web content. It was fun and honestly, I loved the fact that it didn’t take too much of my time. During my spare time, I would spend hours learning more about the infinite possibilities of internet and the emergence of web 2.0 initiatives which marked the explosion of social media websites.

After this episode of my life – my entrepreneurial path is pretty atypical

I usually tend not to share what I’m going to tell you in the following lines, mostly because for some reason I am very shy about it but I’m also very proud of it. So if my 2012 word is “authenticity”, then I must share it with you.

 

In 2007, I joined one of the fastest-growing virtual worlds, Second Life™. I loved the community, the projects, the enthusiasm for this virtual world and quickly started to grow entrepreneurial ambitions in this platform. I founded a fashion PR Agency there, GLANCE International Agency. I was so happy! I could finally share my professional vision of virtual fashion events with the world!
Since the agency was launched in August 2008 until today, I am responsible for the coordination of over 130 virtual events – yep, from A to Z. One of them was sponsored by the award-winning blog PRCouture.com and was a fashion extravaganza of 24 fashion shows in 24 hours (and I was so freaked out anything would go wrong, I didn’t sleep for nearly 30h to ensure everything went smoothly before, during and after the event! And it did!) An other time, we held a simultaneous fashion show happening both in real life and in Second Life. For all these reasons and more we became official Second Life Solutions Provider.

An other event that I am proud of producing with the agency is the Accessory Fair, which is visited every year by over 14,000 of Second Life members and was picked as a Featured Event by the editors of SecondLife.com and thus showcased to hundreds of thousands of members on their homepage.  I am also both the Publisher and Editor-in-chief of GLANCE Magazine, a virtual fashion magazine that has up to 275 pages per issue.. I designed every single page of them, from page 1 to the last page. All in Indesign. Like a big girl.

I enjoyed so much working on my virtual agency, I didn’t see the time go by.

While I was evolving in a virtual reality, a virtual world, I treated my agency like a real world business. I remember perfectly – I would wake up in the middle of the night, excited, passionate about my projects, and write down all the wonderful ideas I had for the agency’s events. And in the morning, I would talk to my staff and we would elaborate coordination and promotion plans to make things happen. I would invest almost all the money from my real, freelancing jobs in my virtual projects. It was ok, for a while I was living at my parent’s place – then moved with my boyfriend who provided for both of us and supported me in my project. I felt that I really found my calling. I was an entrepreneur, a virtual event coordinator, a team leader, a philantropist, a creative. I had many hats and loved it. Of course it’s all team work and I’m grateful I had real friends and had working people around me – I quickly realized I would never be able to put large projects together without the assistance of at least one and more skilled persons around me. I always savored the last minutes when we closed a successful event and received compliments from the audience and the participating content creators on how nicely it was put together. They definitely were fulfilling experiences in my life.

But the real world caught me.

The recession came and had an impact on the mood of Second Life Residents who started not to log in as much, including my friends that I’ve met there. In a few months, the virtual world wasn’t as thriving as before and with newcomers, the mentality of the fashion community changed. It wasn’t bad – it just wasn’t the same anymore. I can see myself again one morning, facing the screen, feeling sick to my stomach. I was facing reality. I realized that for all my investment, my time, my love, my hard work – my committment over 2 years and a half to my lovely fashion PR Agency, there was nothing to show.

I had produced over 100 events, worked with over 100 content creators who left rave reviews about working with us. I managed a permanent staff of 5 to 10 persons for the agency, of 20 for the magazine. I had acquired two estates (large virtual lands where we had the agency’s headquarters and a few virtual fashion shops) to ensure that we were running quality events and only ever accepted few sponsors to keep full control over the quality of the events. I really worked hard on making things happen and even though I didn’t say it out loud, I was expecting things to get better and to have a much better outcome.

But truth be told – the money generated by the projects never covered my investments. I was constantly putting money in but never had money out. The staff, the rent, the investment required to plan new projects – I just had no money left whatsoever. No profits, no money, no nothing. I really felt awful. I stopped logging in the virtual world at all, neglected then abandonned my estates, and started to forget everything about it. While I would bother every single person about it in the first years, I stopped completely talking about my project to my boyfriend, to my friends and my family. There is a clear reason to that… I didn’t want to feel that I was a failure, I didn’t want to be seen like one. I just gave up on my dream to make of my agency a virtual project that was at the very least covering its recurring costs. I moved on to other projects and decided not to give it more thoughts.

You know what? Deep inside, I started to think something was wrong with me.

It was not possible that after working 2 years and half without real interruption, mostly part time but also full time for some periods of my life on this project, I would still have nothing to show for it. Then one day I received a newsletter of Ramit Sethi who was saying something about how women run businesses differently. I immediately wondered… Could this be my answer? Could I find inspiration to keep up with my project thanks this program?

That’s when I joined Marie Forleo’s B-school, to see how I could make my project big, how I could make it real.

 

It was exciting and empowering and also scary. I even felt stupid at times wondering… why would I invest even more money, thousands of dollars that I basically didn’t have, to fix something that just seemed to be completely broke in my life? Actually, I liked it. I liked the idea of being scared as sh*t for the first time of my life – for a good reason. I was going to be part of an amazing community, I was going to take part in a movement that was bigger than my virtual project, bigger than myself – something that could finally, really, answer my question: what was wrong with me? I wanted to know where my efforts failed, regarding my virtual project. I knew deep inside, that this program was the key solution to my problems…

And I got stuck on the Module #1, untitled “Profit Clarity.” As of today, I didn’t finish this module. And there are 8 of them.
Can I confess something to you? I can clearly remember my heart breaking in little pieces when listening to a recording in the program, where Marie or Laura says…

“If you don’t make money, you don’t have a business”. “You have a hobby. I know it’s tough to hear.”

Ouch. It was such a slap in my face.

During all this time I behaved like someone who was running a business while all I had was really just an ultra expensive hobby. When I realized it, it wasn’t the nicest moment in my life, I can tell you that. After spending nearly 3 years on my virtual project, I came to the conclusion that it was pointless. But after giving it some thought, I realized there was a point.

I actually realized that during all this time, it was a blessing in disguise.

Tomorrow you’ll discover me in “revenge mode”, you’ll get to know how I came to master internet marketing and how this virtual project impacted on my entrepreneurial ambitions.

Get a cookie, you’re done for today 🙂

[ Photo credits here]

Tell me in the comments below: how would you describe yourself in one word?

(Psst… Personally, for me, it’s “geek”.)

2 Responses to My “Entrepreneurista” Challenge Day #2 – Geek Chic(k)

  1. Nadine – I love this story about you and can’t wait to hear what’s up next. This is amazing that you have worked this in virtual reality – exactly like dreaming it. And if you can dream it, you can do it. Way to go B School sista!

    • Sherold,

      you absolutely rock 🙂 I’m so glad to be part of a community of awesome women like you and other B-schoolers! Definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life.

      Thanks for your comment. I agree: the virtual reality was definitely both a challenge and a thrill. You can come back every day to get more details!

      – Nadine

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