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Have a Great Idea for a Business? Test the Waters Before Diving In

Now and then I meet someone (usually a young person) who tells me they really like helping with people, so they’re thinking about going into Human Resources or HR as it’s commonly referred to.

They imagine themselves sitting in their large private office eagerly awaiting a long line of interesting employees with interesting problems in need of interesting solutions.

Ask people already in HR though and they’ll paint a very different picture.

Instead of spending time helping people, they end up dealing with things like hiring, terminations, benefits, pensions, payroll, and grievances.

A lot of jobs seem different from the outside.

Think about your current career or job. Now that you’re there, is it what you thought it was going to be? Probably not.

Fantasy vs. Reality

Entrepreneurs are not immune to this “leap before you look” syndrome.

Every business has its more mundane parts, especially in the beginning when you’re bootstrapping your business as a “solo-preneur.”

But still, the goal is to love more of the work than not. So, before you leap, you need to check out just how wide the expanse is between fantasy and reality.

How do you test out a business idea?

Well, if you want to run a bed and breakfast (and for people who are natural hosts, there are lots of wonderful aspects of running a B & B) the best way to get your feet wet without taking a financial soaking is to become a B & B sitter.

Just like it sounds, sitters take over the day-to-day operations of established inns so the owners can go on vacation or otherwise get away.

Companies like Deserve a Break actually match B & B owners in Australia and New Zealand with experienced relief workers. Similarly, in the UK, farmers can turn to a decades old company called Loring, King and Loring for relief and contract milking and agricultural staff.

Another option is to go to “school.”

Sticking with our B & B example, you don’t need to earn a four year degree in hotel and restaurant management to learn how to run an inn.

Many B & B’s offer weekend workshops for aspiring inn-keepers and some owners do individual consulting.

If there are no classes in your area, contact a local B & B and ask if they’d let you intern with them in exchange for some free staffing time once you’re trained.

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  1. Eugenia

    Your article makes so many good points, Valerie, and brings up some great options.

    Several years ago, my husband and I bought an executive recruiting franchise. One of the company’s boosters said, “And you really help people to improve their lives. Some of them are so thankful to you for finding them better jobs.” That was the biggest selling point for me. It is also a very small part of the job. A good sales person figures out what it is that makes your eyes light up and then pushes that button.

    If someone is trying to sell you a business, I recommend doing ten times the research you feel inclined to do. Find objective people with experience in the industry to tell you what it’s really like. Look for people who left the industry, and find out why.

    A lot of people tell you to “follow your dreams and don’t pay attention to naysayers.” Usually, they’re trying to sell you their sure-fire step by step program to wealth without work.

    There’s a big difference between a naysayer and an informed, objective person who explains the challenges and obstacles that you will need to overcome before realizing your dream. Hope is not a strategy for bridging the gap between your competencies and your dream job.

    Now I’m a job search and career coach, and I relish saving people from unscrupulous people peddling business opportunities and Law of Attraction scam artists selling motivational retreats disguised as get rich quick seminars.

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