This morning, I am inside writing this blog while my husband is outside in the rain and snow and mud photographing and videoing a huge farm equipment auction. We had to get up at 5:30 am to be here which was a feat in and of itself. Oh and it’s 34 degrees out there and Greg has 25 virtual tours he needs to build.
There are times when our work gets frustrating. There are clients who drive us crazy. There are things about being self employed and owning our own virtual tour business that are hard to deal with. There are days when I want to quit and go get a “real job”. Yesterday was one of those days for me -- today may be one of those days for my husband...I’ll ask him as soon as his teeth stop chattering.
What keeps us motivated at times like these is the realization that despite the ups and downs and the frustrations and the challenges, what we do makes a difference and allows us to live a fantastic life. Our company is called Vision Quest Virtual Tours because it is our VISION that keeps us focused on why we do what we do. Sometimes it is the vision alone that keeps us going.
The Trouble with YouTube
As more and more people are realizing the need to showcase their businesses with virtual tours, we have started seeing lots of YouTube videos on websites. YouTube is a great option for showing sneezing pandas and little British boys biting their brother’s fingers but maybe it should not be the first choice for showcasing your business.
Today I was watching a video introduction for a drug and alcohol recovery program. The video was posted to YouTube so when I was finished watching the video, I was given an array of other choices of videos to watch. This particular program has 6 videos so those were some of the 12 other suggestions that YouTube offered me...
The other six however included a video for a medication for premature ejaculation, a video titled “Tall Brazilian girl finds love”, and one called “the Ultimate Girls Fail Compilation” which apparently is very popular as it has 72 Million views (well 72 Million and One now because of course I watched it)!! The video I went to YouTube to watch only had 182 views so clearly Ultimate Girl’s Fail garnered more attention than the drug and alcohol treatment program.
There are some things that must be seen to be believed. A yacht is one of them!
For many people, the idea of buying a boat is a fantasy that is way out of reach but most of those people have never actually been aboard a motoryacht or sailboat. We recently photographed a virtual tour for a 48 foot motoryacht and had the joy of staying aboard for a few days and got a taste of living aboard a boat. We were hooked but never imagined that buying a boat was something that we could ever afford.
As we walked into the marina, we passed the office for Charleston Harbor Yacht Sales and on a whim, I picked up a flyer. What I saw shocked me -- liveaboard boats were available for anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000! In fact we learned that the boat we were staying on, the Blue Hour, was for sale for less than $200,000!! We had no idea what a boat of that caliber would cost and we were floored. So much so that we made an appointment with John Douglas of Charleston Harbor Yacht Sales to go look at boats the very next day. It's our plan to buy a boat within the next few years and live aboard when we are home in Charleston, SC.
I am sure that our experience was not unlike many people who drive past the marinas and see the sailboats and motor yachts but never would imagine that owning a boat is within reach. I am sure many people who hear the word "yacht" imagine Donald Trump or Mitt Romney cruising around the islands - not themselves living in a floating condo. I am also sure that many people have no idea how comfortable life on a boat can be and imagine that the cabins would be cramped, small and dank.
What better way to debunk those misbeliefs than with a virtual tour? We are able to photograph panoramic spins of the staterooms, salon, decks and bridges and take wide angle stills of heads, galleys and instruments to provide a one click overview that even the most uneducated person can appreciate. Still images do not do justice to small spaces like the interior of a boat but 360 degree panoramas certainly can.
If you are a yacht owner or broker trying to sell a boat, there's no better way to showcase your vessel. To understand the value of a yacht virtual tour, you just need to click on the link below then give us a call at Vision Quest Virtual Tours to schedule your own.
B & B On The Sea Virtual Tour -- http://tours.visionquestvirtualtours.com/36486
I recently blogged that 2012 was the greatest year of my life so far but today is January 15, 2013 so the fact of the matter is that 2012 is a series of wonderful memories and 2013 is going fast.
Many people set New Year’s Resolutions and the vast majority of those are never achieved because the people who set them do not have a plan to reach them. This an old acronym regarding goal setting that says the key to achieving goals is that they need to be:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
My goals are always the same every year -- to be physically fit, financially secure, spiritually grounded and to foster good relationships with the people I love. These are noble but vague goals...
As 2012 draws to an end, it’s time to look at how our virtual tour business has evolved in the past year. This is our second full year operating Vision Quest Virtual Tours as our full time job and sole source of income. It’s been said that you can’t EXPECT what you don’t INSPECT so this exercise is very helpful in seeing how far we’ve come and also in setting our goals for 2013...
My husband has always been adventurous - he has skydived, flown in a World War 2 acrobatic biplane, raced go carts, participated in triathlons and perhaps most impressive of all - he has been an entrepreneur for his entire career. He has worked from the time he was 12 years old and has the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever met. Me...not so much!
I spent my career as a w-2 employee and I like the idea of a paycheck coming every two weeks or so and commission checks coming as well. I like the idea of going to an office with a bunch of like minded people. Even though working in an office often means working three hours and socializing for five, I like the framework of having set office hours. I like office Christmas parties and birthday cakes in the conference room. I especially love the competition with other sales people.
Working from home and traveling all over the country for our national virtual tour company could be very isolating for me if we weren’t a part of the RTV national network. We are connected to the group through the Facebook group, the annual national convention and just the contacts we’ve made by collaborating with other virtual tour photographers in the network.
Everyone knows that it’s important to be prepared for emergencies but there are certain things that only become emergencies when we don’t plan for the inevitable.
Ten days before my first half marathon, I found out that I had sesamoiditis which is odd since I didn’t even know I had sesamoids. These two little bones on the base of my big toe were irritated because I hadn’t listened to my body which told me that my running shoes had broken down even though they still look relatively new. Luckily, I had the resources to get new shoes in time for the race because without them, I might not have been able to finish.
I learned a similar lesson in our virtual tour business this summer when my photographer husband said we had to replace our camera. The camera we replaced is a high end Canon model which looks brand new and was only a little over a year old. I learned that camera shutters are rated for a certain number of clicks. Because of the volume of images we shoot for our virtual tour business, we had gone way over the recommended clicks for our camera. Greg was seeing little issues with the camera that I with my inexperience would not have noticed. Rather than wait for the camera to break down during a shoot, we bought a new camera of the same model. We carry the old one as a back up and we’ll keep track of about how many clicks we have to know when it’s time for yet another new one.
It is our practice to photograph using the very best equipment we can afford and upgrade it as we are able. Starting a virtual tour business using RTV, Inc.’s virtual tour technology did not require a big upfront financial commitment but as we have grown, we have had to plan ahead for upgrades and replacements of equipment. Just as my shoes could have sidelined me for the race, not planning ahead could be a big issue for our business.
I blogged recently about the fact that businesses that succeed do so because they have the resources to stay in business in spite of early failures. While it’s admirable to “give all you’ve got” be sure to save a little if you want to succeed in business for the long term.
If you’ve ever visited New Orleans, you may have heard the word “Lagniappe”. Lagniappe derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, "the gift," and ultimately from Quechua yapay, "to give more." It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. I’ve always considered Lagniappe to mean a little something extra -- a bonus which is appreciated but was certainly not expected.
For our virtual tour business, our Lagniappe comes in the form of Tour Tracks jobs.
If you have never been to an RTV Convention, you may wonder if the time and expense are worth it. If you have been to an RTV Convention, you may wonder what you will gain by attending again. After all you learned so much last year that you can’t possibly imagine that there’s anything left to learn.
For us, there is absolutely no question about whether we will attend. Our virtual tour business was successful before the convention and was successful after the convention. But something fundamentally changed for us as a result of attending the RTV Convention.
In 2006, the American College of Sports Medicine reported that 70% of first timers who sign up to run a marathon end up dropping out before the race begins. Training for an endurance event is HARD. Much harder than one might imagine so many people underestimate their level of commitment in getting ready to run 26.2 miles. Many marathons also offer half marathon courses -- there’s a big difference in running 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles though both are lofty accomplishments. For this reason there is an option at the race expo for runners to switch from the marathon to the half-marathon.
This is also how it happens in most businesses. Professor Amar Bhide showed in his Origin and Evolution of New Business that 93% of all companies that ultimately become successful had to abandon their original strategy -- because the original strategy proved not to be viable. Note this statistic refers not to business that failed but to businesses which ultimately became successful. I wrote recently about finding the right strategy for your business and referred to the fact that my greatest successes have come after my worst failures.