Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship is the place to bring your business ideas to life. Our team provides vast resources and education, trustworthy support and mentorship, affordable meeting and office space, and most importantly – inspiration to give your idea wings. #IdeasTakeFlight at Zeal.

Meet Dan Oakland, owner of Alternative HRD, who’s been in the human resources industry for over 25 years and a tenant of Zeal Center for the past two years. We asked Dan to share a bit about his journey as well as his Idea Take Flight moment; that pivotal moment which allowed his business to grow through a major hurdle.

ideas take flight angel wing mural

I was working for a management/personnel consultant organization back in the early 90’s when the owner got recruited by one of his clients. He offered to sell me the business, which essentially was me, a couple of staff, and two or three clients. Because I liked the idea of being a business owner, I took him up on it. 

What I had really done, though, was buy a job rather than a business. I wasn’t able to afford to keep the staff, and for several years I worked that job by myself – taking care of clients, doing the marketing and sales when I needed to, handling the finances when I had to, etc. In the back of my mind, I knew there was opportunity to grow, but I was afraid enough of failure and in a comfortable enough rut that I didn’t take the initiative to grow it. 

Fast forward almost 20 years. I looked in the mirror one day and got pissed, because my ‘business’ was the same as it was when I started – no more, no less. My biggest accomplishment was that I had survived – which, I guess, is something – but I had created nothing of real value and built nothing sustainable.

That’s when my idea truly took flight. Where I began to treat my business as a business that needed me to develop it. I committed to enhancing my effort to grow and would do just that; or I would crash and burn trying. 

We were not really a ‘start-up’ business at that point, we were a ‘wake-up’ business, and eight years later we can look back on where we used to be. Alternative HRD is an awesome team of 9 highly experienced and dedicated HR professionals, we provide HR support and services to dozens of businesses, non-profits and public entities, and we have become a model of spreading HR best practices to the 95% of employers who have no HR professional on staff.

So while I’ve been in business for 27+ years, it took 20 of those years for me to take true ownership!

Alternative HRD team

Alternative HRD and their amazing staff have grown at the Zeal Center for the past two years. The team brings human resources expertise and boundless energy to the space, and as a direct contributor to the Sioux Falls entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

To learn more, you can attend a free workshop hosted Alternative HRD at Zeal Center on August 27th (details here). 

If you are inspired by Dan’s story of resilience, tenacity, and embracing the risks of failure, we encourage you to share! Zeal Center is here to help #ideastakeflight by connecting you with the resources that can help you get there most efficiently, and to guide you through the journey – challenges and triumphs alike!

Start your journey today. Set up a tour of the space!

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Dan Oakland by the angel wing mural