Saturday, July 18, 2015

Merchant Resource: How do I begin? Location, information we want to have always handy, and preparing our inventory

Welcome! This post is part of the "Merchant Resource" series. You can check all the posts in this series by clicking on the Merchant Help page tab of this blog.

You've decided that you want to have a store in SL. Maybe you've been learning about creating mesh clothes and now you're ready to sell your creations. Or you started making poses, or make-up, for fun, and now you're thinking that you could be a little more serious/dedicated about it. Or you create furniture, or any of the other many things that we can create in SL. There are many stores in SL, selling many different things, and you can be one of them. Marketing people will tell you that you have to find your niche. And this is true.

Canary Beck wrote a useful post for bloggers about niching their blog, and much of the advice shared in that post applies to merchants too.

I asked Canary how her advice might apply more specifically to merchants, and she said:

As with retailers everywhere else in the world, the most important first decision you'll make will be your niche. Niching is the process of identifying a specific market need, and filling that need with your product.

Many large niches in Second Life are already saturated with merchants (e.g. selling mesh body attachments, women's shoes, women's hair). The more competitors marketing to a market niche, the smaller the slice of the pie is available to each new competitor. If you want to increase your chances of success, you'll need to find smaller, "undiscovered" niches where you can compete and be profitable.

There are many advantages of niching including less competition, more brand loyalty, a bigger impact in a crowded marketplace, and less costly advertising because the most valuable form of promotion there is ­ word of mouth ­ will serve you better.

For the purposes of this series, let's assume that you have decided what you'll be selling. You're not tied for life to this decision: as your business grows, you can decide on creating a wider array of options, or you can slowly find which is your particular style in the activity you started with. So, which are our first steps?

So many questions to begin with! And we'll try to clarify them.

Store name and logo: Some requirements

Now you need a store name, and a logo. Marketing people will tell you that your name should be catchy and easy to remember. Again, this is true. Only for that reason, you should avoid Unicode characters in your store name. You may think they are cool, but the truth is that, for the majority of people, they're difficult to read (and many consider them annoying). Keep it easy to read and type. If it's easy to type, it's easy to find your store by using search tools.

Canary Beck shared her top 10 tips for choosing a Second Life store name with me:

  1. Make it unique and unforgettable - it should be unlike other names
  2. Make the name reflect your style (e.g elegant names for elegant products, quirky names for quirky products)
  3. Avoid unusual spellings (if it's hard to spell, it's hard to share)
  4. Make it easy to type and pronounce (this makes it easier to search for)
  5. Make it short and simple (again, so it's easier to search for)
  6. Make it generically searchable (if you sell shoes, put shoes in the name somewhere, so that people looking for shoes might find you)
  7. Make it relate to your product or market you serve
  8. Check to see that no one else has it already
  9. Don't box yourself in by picking names that are too specific
  10. Check the name with potential customers

There's one thing I would recommend here about the name you choose. Suppose that you start your business together with more people, or plan to have more people working with you in the future.

If you, and the rest of the team, should it exist, decide that the store name should carry all of your avatar names/last names... Think about that, twice.

Suppose that your store is named May and Anna's Designs, and suppose that tomorrow Anna decides to leave. You will realize that you may need to re-brand. Unless you've planned how to effectively make people know that Spring Touch is the former May and Anna's Designs, re-branding isn't a good idea. If you decide on Spring Touch as a name, from the start, if any of the people in the team has to leave, for any reason, you can keep the name that your customers already know.

I asked Canary what she thought of this advice and she said:

I think that is good advice, and I'd say something similar about naming a store after your own name. While easy at first, it might be hard to bring partners on board in the future ­especially if they want to feel a sense of ownership in the brand.

The other downside of naming the store after yourself, is that you might find it difficult to escape your business, should you ever want to leave it. For example, let's say you create everything under your own avatar name, it's going to be very difficult to "sell it on" without also giving up control of your main account. For this reason, I suggest, whether going alone or in a partnership, start your store with a name that is independent of you, and create everything with an alt with the store's name. This way, you can share and pass on that alt's account to whomever you please, should you ever want to bow out.

The only exception to this that I can think of right now, is if you are already relatively well-known among your market niche for something else. If that's the case, branding your store with your name might be a good way to lend awareness to your new store. With that said, you can still brand your store with your name, while running everything (creating, marketplace accounts, Linden dollar accounts) through an alternate account.

Once you have decided on a name, it's time to create a logo for your store (or hiring someone else to create said logo for you).

Are there any specific requirements to keep in mind, when designing the store logo?

Yes, there are some important requirements.

For a long time, when opening a texture in SL, this has opened as square by default (now some viewers use the resolution to determine the default aspect ratio). Also, when we upload an image to SL, this image is resized to sizes that are powers of two when uploading. For example, if our image is 768x320, SL will resize it to 512x256.

For these reasons, and also because 512x512 textures will rez faster and use less memory than 1024x1024 do, the standard size for store logos has become 512x512, which is an aspect ratio of 1:1 (A square picture). If you don't know what is this aspect ratio thing, don't worry: we'll talk about this topic in the module devoted to creating your product ads.

This means that when you have a clear idea of what your store logo will be, create it being square (this is, 1:1 aspect ratio), and export your image without alpha channel, this is, without transparency information: a completely solid, RGB image. If your image has transparency, it could cause issues (alpha glitches) with other objects around.

How do you export your image without alpha channel? That depends on the graphics program you use. I use GIMP, and in that one, you have to go to the Image menu, then select Flatten Image, and then overwrite your graphics file (Not the XCF: You overwrite the exported PNG. Never flatten the XCF or you will lose all your layers once you save.)

Speaking of graphic files, short tangent here. When you save your graphic work, make sure of saving it in the native format of the program. In GIMP, this is the XCF format. In Photoshop, this is the PSD format. When you have a final image to upload to SL/your blog/Flickr, what you have to do is exporting your file into an image. Some of the most known formats are PNG and JPG. Whatever you do, never use JPG for SL. JPG compresses the original image creating a new image that loses quality at some point. SL also does some compression when uploading, so use formats that either don't compress (TGA would be one), or that use what's known as lossless compression, this is, compressed files (smaller size in disk) that do not lose quality (like the PNG format).

You can (and should) create your logo at the highest resolution possible in your graphics program (so, as XCF or PSD). For example, create your logo at 2048x2048, or 1024x1024 pixels. You can export and scale this down tp 512x512 without losing quality for your logo once in SL, to place it on product ads... But if you have created your logo at 256x256 size and now you need it at 512x512 size, scaling up the 256x256 pixels one will result in quality loss.

Summing this up: When you want to begin, you have to decide on a store name (catchy, easy to remember and type), and you need a store logo. This store logo should be uploaded to SL having 512x512 pixels, having no alpha channel, and an aspect ratio of 1:1.

Store presence: Inworld, Marketplace, or both?

Now you have to decide: Will the store be Marketplace only, or will it have inworld presence? That's entirely up to you, of course. I would recommend having both.

Why inworld presence? Because if you're interested in joining events, fairs, hunts, send notices to groups... They will expect that you have an inworld store, so you can rez in it a panel with information about the event/fair/hunt/group. Because many people like visiting inworld stores.

Why Marketplace? Because you have no expenses to set it up: You're charged only per each sale you do. How much are you charged per sale? A 5% of the price of the item.

I'm sure that you have heard that Marketplace is many things that usually range from a pain in the neck to a terribly slow monster. To be completely honest, in my experience, Marketplace is not that bad. True, it might be a bit slow at times, and it could have some tools to improve our productivity while listing, but it's also true that with a little bit of organization and knowing of a couple of tips, you can have your Marketplace account up to date with respect to your inworld store.

We will study about that: You really don't want to miss on the sales that come from Marketplace.

How many sales could you be missing on?

I don't have data from all merchants, but still, I can give you a couple of examples. In my own case, nearly 90% of the sales come from the inworld store and events, and the remaining 10% is from Marketplace. 10% means many sales through the month that I wouldn't have done otherwise. (UPDATED: After going through all my transactions during the past years, I have exact numbers. 18.5% of my sales come from Marketplace.)

I know of another merchant having about 55% of the sales coming from the inworld store and events, and the remaining 45% comes from Marketplace. That's a huge percentage. Of course, your results will depend on how you work the Marketplace side, but these two cases alone should convince you of setting up your store there, and keep it updated.

Speaking of Marketplace, if you're reading this before July 23th, know that the migration to the new Viewer Managed Marketplace will start on July 23th. If you plan on uploading items or editing your listings, do so before the 23th, because during the migration, the use of Marketplace will be blocked. This is not a whim coming from the Lab: this is to avoid having desynchronized databases. Desynchronized databases are a bad thing: it would mean that some listings in the old system could not show in the new system.

Store location: Mainland vs Private Estates, budgeting

If you have an inworld store, should you go for mainland, or for land in a private estate?

Mainland has the advantage that it will always be there, as long as SL exists, while a private estate could vanish without any kind of warning (sadly a few landlords scam people: keep always an open eye). But in a private estate you have access to more management tools, and even increase the total of allowed avatars in the sim at the same time. In mainland, you cannot expect that a sim will adhere to a theme that fits yours. In fact, the mix may at times hurt your eye. But on the other side, many people wander mainland, and that makes it a little easier for your store to be discovered by random travelers.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that you rent a full sim to begin with. I'm mentioning a few pros/cons to take into account for the future, when your business grows. You can start in mainland, and then move to a parcel in a private estate. Or you can stay in mainland forever. If you move to a private estate, make sure you learn about the landlord. You want someone stable that won't vanish the next day, leaving you without store (and people using a landmark that no longer works).

Moving can be annoying, because that implies updating landmarks, updating your vendor boxes with the new landmarks, notifying customers via the store group/subscribo, sending new landmarks to all those people that could need your information (event organizers, etc.) ... But it happens. It has happened to many of us, if not to all of us. We begin on a place, move, grow... and finally settle. So don't be worried about having to decide a definitive location right now. Decide on a location. And make sure it's on a parcel with the right maturity settings. While mature will work in many cases, you may need to be in Adult rated land.

If you move, you have to update the SL URL in Marketplace too. Before you scream because you've listed 172 items and see in front of you the experience of manually updating this in each of the 172 listings... Breathe. Because Marketplace allows for some bulk-update options, and that will make a lot faster than you thought the work of updating SL URLs in case you move. We'll see how.

Something to consider is how much you can spend renting a parcel. First of all, when you explore parcels to learn about prices, make sure that you understand if they're telling you price per week, per month, or per four weeks. If they're telling you price per week, then it's clear: seven days. But there are some people that quote price per month, and they're actually counting four weeks.

One year has 52 weeks and 1 day (52 weeks and 2 days on leap years). If you're paying by the month, you're making 12 payments. But if you think you're paying by the month, and you're actually paying for four weeks, you'll end up making one more payment than you expected at the end of the year: because 12 months times four is 48, and there are still 4 more weeks until the year is complete. If you're not clear about the payment period, consult that with the landlord to avoid surprises.

The next things you need to know to help you budgeting for land are:

  • The price of land is usually expressed in L$ per prim and period of time: One week, four weeks, one month; make sure if you're paying four weeks or one month when it applies (prim and LI are synonymous in this context).
  • If your store is in a Homestead, the whole sim admits 3750 LI (Land Impact)
  • If your store is in a Full Region, the whole sim admits 15000 LI (Land Impact)
  • One sim, regardless of Homestead or Full Region, has a size of 256x256 square meters, or 65536 square meters
  • Parcel sizes (for the most common parcel shape, that is rectangular or square) are X×Y square meters, where X and Y are normally powers of 2. At times, you will see parcel sizes like 4096 or 8192 square meters.

    In the case of 4096, since 4096 is equal to 64×64, it means that the parcel is 64 meters×64 meters. In the case of 8192, since 8192 is equal to 2×4096, it means that the parcel is 128 meters×64 meters.
  • Unless stated otherwise, parcel allowance is a proportional fraction of the total LI the sim allows.

    For example, a 4096 square meters parcel is a 64×64 parcel, or 1/16 of the total area of the sim (65536 divided by 4096 is equal to 16). This means that a 4096 parcel allows 1/16 of the total of the prims in the sim.

    If the sim is a Homestead, this means that a 4096 parcel allows 3750/16 LI, which is 234 (the full result is 234.75, but there's no such thing as fractional LI on land so we round down).

    If the sim is a Full Region, this means that a 4096 parcel allows 15000/16 prims, which is 937 prims (the full result is 937.5, but again, there's no such thing as fractional LI on land).

How does this information help budgeting?

We're calculating how much you'd need to pay per week, depending on the size of the parcel, in a Full Region. Why Full Region? Because commercial land is usually located at Full Regions. We're taking the following possible prices that you can find in the market, to compare: L$1.5 per prim per week, L$2 per prim per week, and L$4 per prim per week. High prices might exist at some prime locations: make sure of researching if it's convenient to you paying more for the same parcel size and prim allowance. (Prices are rounded up when decimals appear.)

L$1.5 prim & weekL$2 prim & weekL$4 prim & week
1024 parcel, 234 primsL$351L$468L$936
2048 parcel, 468 primsL$702L$936L$1,872
4096 parcel, 937 primsL$1,406L$1,874L$3,748
8192 parcel, 1875 primsL$2,813L$3,750L$7,500
16384 parcel (1/4 sim), 3750 primsL$5,625L$7,500L$15,000

Which is the recommended size to begin with? It will depend on what you will be selling. If you will be selling home and garden, a 1024 parcel will become short very soon. In that case, you could start with a 2048 parcel. But if you'll be selling appliers, then a 1024 parcel could be more than enough.

When you consider the total of prims your parcel allows, remember that everything you rez on the parcel will count against this total: the store build, the decoration, the vendors, the informative panels... and the platform and things you rez there, if you want to rez a platform as your workplace, at the same parcel where the store is.

Basic store information: Which, how to keep it handy, and why

As soon as you begin applying to events, inworld groups to send notices about your news, fairs, hunts... The owners of those groups, fairs, hunts, and events are going to request you the following basic information:

  • Store name
  • Owner name, no display names (You have to provide your legacy name)
  • Contact person, if applicable
  • Landmark to your store
  • SL URL to your store
  • Your store logo (once you're accepted, or after submitting the application: always read when they want your logo in the forms/notecards you submit)
  • Marketplace URL if you happen to have set up your Marketplace store
  • Store blog URL if you have one

Some events, fairs... will also require that you provide with a Flickr account, if you have one.

So start by creating in your inventory, in the root level, a folder called:


and inside it, a subfolder:


The ! character is so the folder and subfolder show up above everything else, for SL orders folders alphabetically, and the ! character appears before letters. The name is a suggestion, of course. Use one that makes sense to you.

What should you keep in this "logos, basic data" folder?

  • Landmark to your store
  • Store Logo (Not alpha; 512x512 size, 1:1 aspect ratio; I cannot insist enough on this. Your applications could be turned off if the store logo doesn't meet these requirements.)
  • A copy of your calling card: you can embed this in notecards
  • A notecard containing all the basic information that event/fair/group organizers will ask you, listed previously, so you can quickly copy/paste this information if you have to apply via notecard.

Apart from this, keep an offline copy of that same information in a simple text file, on your computer (and maybe a backup stored online), so you can quickly copy/paste the data when organizers use Google Forms for applications. This way, you don't depend on being online in SL, to have access to this basic store data.

Wait, did you said "a copy of your calling card"? I don't have my own calling card, only the ones from people in my contact list.

Yes, you have a copy of your own calling card :-)

You have to look for it inside the Calling Cards system folder. They seemed to be created in our inventories about two years ago (but don't hold me to this as an exact date of when it happened; I remember that one day I realized that I had my own in there.)

Calling cards can be embedded in notecards? Really?

Really! They still can't be dropped inside boxes (technical reasons that don't matter here), but they can be embedded in notecards. You can use this feature to include your calling card in any information notecard related with your store, if you want.

Your store folder in inventory: How to organize it

Since you've created a folder for all of your store stuff, take the chance to stay organized from this very moment. I've written a series on inventory sorting that could be useful at this point. Although that series focuses in sorting (and packing) clothing, body parts, poses and home and garden, the ideas and tools are the same. Check it out if you haven't yet. Keeping your inventory in good shape will help your productivity.

If you create a business alt for the store, being organized might be simpler because your business alt won't have the inventory cluttered by all the other items you purchase. In this case, you would create the store folder mentioned in the previous section, in your business alt account.

You should upload all assets by using this account, and if you need to purchase supplies like scripts for designers or full permissions animations, said purchases should be done by this business alt account, for the licenses are given to the avatar that makes the purchase. Keep an eye on the licenses of the supplies you purchase: usually alts are not allowed. If you'll be selling assets created by this business alt, then supplies should be also purchased by it, not by your main account, not by the main account of any other of your business partners.

Now, deciding on subfolders inside your store folder depends on what you create and will ultimately be a personal decision based on a structure that makes sense to the way you work. But I know that we may not know how to begin deciding about, so I'm going to share the way I've sorted my own Black Tulip store folder. Some subfolders may be a good start, for they deal with categories that fit all businesses (like Store Updates or Events and Advertising). The others may not fit you, but perhaps the way I've organized all the assets I sell gives you ideas about organizing your own. I'm also explaining what some folders are for.

# 00 - Logos, Landmarks, SL URLs and Data
    Notecards for POSE groups
    Notecards WITH sales list - for Builders Groups
    Notecards WITH sales lists
    Notecards WITHOUT sales lists

Let's start by clarifying this "Store updates" subfolder. You want your product being advertised. Inworld, one way you do this is by sending group notices. You will send a group notice to your store group, or subscribo (we'll talk more about this in a future chapter), and then you may have notice rights in other groups that let you send your news.

It's strongly suggested here that you send a notecard with the information, landmarks to locations, prices and discounts (if the latter applies), and pictures of your products inside the notecard, rather than sending one ad pic, or one landmark, and have people in the group figure out what was that for.

When you participate in certain sales events, they ask from you that you embed in your notecard news, a notecard with the news of the whole sale they promote. That explains the "Notecards WITH sales lists" subfolder (which is my master subfolder, so to speak: that's the one with notecards I send to my store, with all the news). But then, some groups may not allow notecards with this kind of sales notecards embedded. When I have my main notecard with all news and embedded lists, I make a copy into the "Notecards WITHOUT sales lists" and strip all the embedded lists from that copy notecard.

I have notice rights in several groups that help promoting full permissions merchants. And I also sell poses. Poses aren't full permissions, so I do not promote those into the builder groups. I make a copy of my master notecard with everything into the "Notecards WITH sales list - for Builders Groups", and strip all the poses releases, or home and garden that isn't full permissions.

Then I have notecards to be sent for pose groups. Again, I make a copy of my master notecard into the "Notecards for POSE groups", and keep only the information related to poses.

Then I make sure of sending the right notecard to the right groups, and everybody is happy :-)

The rule here would be: Create subfolders that adapt to the variety of groups where you have notice rights, so you adapt your master notecard to the rules of each group.

Now let's continue with the store folder structure:

    # 1 - WEEKLY
    # 2 - MONTHLY
    # 3 - BI-MONTHLY
    # 4 - QUARTERLY
    # 5 - YEARLY
    # 9 - ONE TIME
# The Store (Licenses, Logos, Builds, Scripts, Info, Etc)
    # 0 - CUSTOMERS

I don't store the assets I create inside the EVENTS & ADVERTISEMENT folder. In here, I store all the notecards that event organizers send, landmarks, objects with group joiner and other material that you need when you're a merchant in an event. I sub-categorize the information per year.

At the end of each quarter, I pack all the information of events that have finished by then, and delete the notecards, etc., to give some relief to my inventory.

Now, you may wonder why I have that # 01 - STORE UPDATES folder, when I could include it within # The Store (Licenses, Logos, Builds, Scripts, Info, Etc). It's a matter of convenience. Having it there, it's quicker for me to access to the folder where I have all notecards with the news information that I can send to several groups. Including it within # The Store (Licenses, Logos, Builds, Scripts, Info, Etc) would add one more click to my workflow, which at the end of the day, counts. That way I also minimize the chances of sending the wrong notecard to a group.

More subfolders! Now we dig into the core of my work: all the assets I upload to SL in order to create my products:

... (The list would be long and is not relevant to this point)
    !Common Docs
... (More supplies folders, not relevant to this point)
    3D Modeling
    Basic Scripting For Builders
... (More categories, not relevant)
20 - TOOLS
            000 - POSE FAIR 2015
            001 - FANTASY FAIRE 2015
            002 - WORLD GOTH FAIR 2015
        2014 and prior
            20140715 - Dangerous Liaisons
                [Black Tulip] Poses (Couple) - My Rules #1
                [Black Tulip] Poses (Couple) - My Rules #2
                [Black Tulip] Poses - Enigma #1
            20140915 - Technologic
            20141215 - Snowfall
    11 - ONEWORD
... (More categories, sub-categories, sub-sub-categories... not relevant, to get the idea)

The categories here are different depending on the type of asset. For example, I categorize scripts differently than mesh. Why? Because scripts are some sort of timeless entities, so it's more useful to me looking for them by categories, while mesh objects have a more limited duration, and so I just sort them by the year I created them. Notice that inside the year folder for mesh objects, I make subfolders, per quarter. This is because I create a lot of mesh, and I would need to scroll for a long time if I put all the things I created in one year. (Even separating by quarters, the list gets long.)

Then, all instances of DEVELOPMENT subfolders are to store assets I use to create items (textures, scripts, poses) that are not distributed as standalone in the items I sell. For example, if I create a prop with poses, that prop is a mesh object which uses textures, poses and scripts. I sell a finished prop object with the contents correctly set. And in my DEVELOPMENT subfolder I store all those meshes, textures, etc. that I've used in the creation of the item. This subfolder is also categorized: I separate per item.

I strongly recommend that you follow a similar organization in your hard drive than you do in your SL inventory, and that you do periodic backups. In my hard drive, I separate things this way: product ads have a subfolder on their own, organized by the same criteria explained before: by year, event/main store, quarter. Why? Because when I upload the ads to the store blog for the corresponding post, they're all together. I will expand more on this when we talk about the store blog. Then, I have a folder for Mesh, a folder for Poses, a folder for Books, a folder for Scripts... Stay organized!

And two final subfolders:


Because you may use third party scripts (like scripts for nails or appliers), and because there are always things that you can't think of how to sort at the moment, and you tuck them inside a review me folder. Legends say that those folders eternally stay unsorted, but I can tell you, there's at least one avatar in the grid that reviews them twice a year.

This would be enough for now. Get ready all those things, and in the next part of this series we'll talk about how to prepare your products for sale: permissions, information to include, and more.

Have a great day! :-)


Mesh hands: Coco Doll, Hands (1), from Coco (Cocoro Lemon)
Mesh body: Coco Doll, Upper part is Bandage&Cut, lower part is Bandage, from Coco (Cocoro Lemon)

Dress: Swept Away Dress, Cream, from (fashionably dead)
Necklace: Swept Away Necklace, White Gold, from (fashionably dead)
Question marks: Question Marks, Colored, from Black Tulip (mine). They are a prop part of the So many Questions pose.

WL Water: Pond


Pose: Dark Fairy #9, Black Tulip (mine)
WL Sky: [TOR] SCIFI - Cragelica


Pose: Dark Fairy #16, Black Tulip (mine)
WL Sky: [TOR] SCIFI - Albedo 0.39
Tulip: My store logo, in mesh


Pose: Dark Fairy #19 (mirror), Black Tulip (mine)
Cage: Paper cranes Cage, Silver, from Zenith (The cage alters the position of the arms)
WL Sky: [TOR] SCIFI - Albedo 0.39


Mesh hands: Coco Doll, Hands (1), from Coco (Cocoro Lemon)
Mesh ears: Coco Doll, Ears (Human), from Coco (Cocoro Lemon)
Mesh head: Coco Doll, Head 002A (Closed Eyes), from Coco (Cocoro Lemon)

Hair: Marina, Blood, from Catwa
Pose: Dark Fairy #19 (mirror), Black Tulip (mine)
Cage: Paper cranes Cage, Silver, from Zenith (The cage alters the position of the arms)
WL Sky: [TOR] SCIFI - Albedo 0.39


  1. This is a timely series for me, as I am currently working on opening a new business. The advice about using an alt for all business was a tad surprising to me. Is the thinking behind this for ease of organization, or in case of future sale? I'm not sure if I want to or how I would keep up with two different avis in this case.

    1. Having a business alt is a good thing to do if you think that in the future you could join with someone else, for example, and it certainly helps having the inventory organized, plus all the money coming from your store is kept by that alt. If you have completely clear that it will be you all the time, on your own, you can use your main account, of course. I do that, but I confess that by the time I opened my store, I didn't think at all of creating a business alt, and nowadays is late for me because of the supplies I've purchased in this account. I probably would have used a business alt: I would also use all the group space only for events, etc., while in my main account I struggle with event groups, store groups, my own land groups and groups of places where I like to go. This is why I included this point as something to consider before starting.

      I use my main account, but I still have three alts that use for these purposes:

      - Testing permissions
      - Storing the assets I upload after I do my quarterly cleaning, unpacked (To keep my inventory count not too high). I send to my alts the full permissions assets I upload, this is what I mean (and of course, sort them in my alts account)
      - Photography: When I need more than one avatar, they come in handy. I use a light viewer to log each of them. I haven't tried how a text viewer could work in this case.

      The decision is yours, but there are good reasons to use a business alt (and like I've said before, I wish I had thought of all this when I started!)

    2. @Kat, apart from the reasons Auryn mentioned with regards to inventory organisation and testing, I also mentioned a potential future sale as important:

      "The other downside of naming the store after yourself, is that you might find it difficult to escape your business, should you ever want to leave it. For example, let's say you create everything under your own avatar name, it's going to be very difficult to "sell it on" without also giving up control of your main account. For this reason, I suggest, whether going alone or in a partnership, start your store with a name that is independent of you, and create everything with an alt with the store's name. This way, you can share and pass on that alt's account to whomever you please, should you ever want to bow out."

      But even if this isn't even remotely in your plans, the upside of using an alt is to share the labour. For example, I have given people I've entered into business partnerships with usage of my business alt (SilkamourbeckMG) to carry out all sorts of functions. This business alt is not only the source of everything we created for Basilique, Romeo + Juliet, and Paradise Lost, but also is the main inventory for everything to buy for business projects. It's also the primary bank account, all funds go there so it's easier to track sales and donations, and all expenses come from that account, so again, it's easier to track inflows and outflows. This also helps when distributing funds and investing funds into that account from anyone else involved - it just keep everything neater, and more secure.

      One side bonus too, is that when you're working, using an alt can be one of the few ways you can get peace and quiet (from friends and groups) in order to focus. Also, if this account gets all the payments from your items of your store, you don't have to hear the "ka-ching" sound everytime someone buys something from you, unless you are logged into that account. That can be a nice sound at first, but I can assure you it gets old very fast.