Experience your industry before you jump in

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A colleague recently commented on the necessity of fledgling business owners (in particular social enterprise owners) trialing and testing their industry before launching themselves upon the world.

Personally, I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more.  You may have participated in one of those conversations.  A ‘good idea’ is borne, the committee says “Everyone will want one of those”, a grant is received and off the organisation launches into new exciting adventures.

Just a few months down the track people are tired, they now have some idea of what they didn’t know they didn’t know, and a wish list starts to form around the things that could have been researched before the whole thing started.

At the moment I’m traveling with my family through beautiful NZ.  I’m thinking about many different projects I’ve been working on recently and on this day tourism and hospitality is a particular focus.

I’m using the excellent wi-fi provided by Jesters Cafe, in Tasman near Nelson on the South Island.  This place is heaving with families enjoying a Sunday brunch.  There are chooks in the background, tamed eels in the little creek, installations and hand crafted kid games scattered throughout the site, happy and accommodating staff and although mine hasn’t arrived as yet the smells of homecooked food in the background tell me there’s something very tasty just about to arrive.

It’s good here.  I’d recommend it, highly.

A stark contrast to the town we dropped into on our way here.  You’d think the motto was ‘tourists are terrorists, repel at all opportunities‘.

Granted it was a cold and rainy day to start with, we’d traveled a way through windy roads and we were a bit scratchy.  On recommendation from one of the local shop owners we swung the doors open and entered a warm and toasty establishment / gift shop (personally, it smacked of dump your money here), but the food looked pretty good so we persisted.

Now, I’m not a hospitality person, but if I saw 5 people sneering as they pushing their food around their plates I’d probably do something.  Nup.

Now I’m not going to name the town here but I can assure you that PRESSED CHICKEN has ruined your opportunity for any further tourism dollars from my wallet.

It’s the little things that count in creating a good service industry business.  Jesters Cafe, for example takes your order, brings out food and you pay as you leave giving good opportunity for tips and comments.  The other demanded an upfront payment.  Personally that further annoyed me as there was little recourse that didn’t involve some form of upfrontedness, not something I was in the mood for as I struggled to contain the contents of my stomach.

Anyhoo, the point being…  Whatever business you are w
anting to set up, be it social enterprise or small business make sure you’ve had plenty of experiences before you launch yourself into it.  If you wouldn’t pay for it, how can you ever expect someone else to.

By the way, the food has arrived and I’m in vege burger heaven.  The lovely lady who is gathering our plates as I type tells me if I stick my head around the corner I might even get the recipe.  I’ll be leaving a tip here.