Why do I need a plan?
This might seem like a dull first topic for horse lovers but hear me out: To be successful at running a horse business, whether it be training, giving lessons, breeding, running a boarding facility, or rescuing horses, a plan is essential for success.
A question that may arise from this topic is:
What is success for a horse business?
Anyone who has been in the horse business long enough has heard the old joke “How do you become a millionaire in the horse industry? Start out a billionaire”
Horses are expensive! If you want to “make money” or at least not lose your shirt when it comes to working with horses, planning is essential for every aspect of the business. Success from our measure is a business that keeps you and your horses happy and allows the business to continue or thrive. So let’s start with a list of essential items to consider in your plan for success.
1. Minimize drama:
Let’s be honest, horse people are demanding. We love our animals. We are often at the very limits financially when it comes to our animals. When people are stressed financially emotions run rather high. And horses are still a word-of-mouth business, so a bad reputation can kill your business before it starts.
Part of your plan must include contracts for every business item you engage in. Make sure that everything you are required to deliver is spelled out in advance. And hold your customers and clients accountable to their end of the bargain as well. Don’t trust that friendship is enough to sustain a business relationship, a contract should be spelled out.
Overcommunicate. Oftentimes, the smallest miscommunications can turn into the largest drama. Make sure everyone inolved knows what’s going on at all times.
Also, learn to let go of the small things. Sometimes it is easier to walk away than be right.
2. Always have a budget
Keep your costs predictable by investing more money up front and buying in bulk where possible. Fuel and transport costs should also be a consideration when you’re doing a budget. And always allow a margin for unexpected costs such as emergency vet and farrier as well as farm/vehicle repairs. Call around to find the best deals, bargain with your local feed stores for bulk discounts, reach out to your entire network to find the best deals. And have a plan to generate revenue, don’t just build your business and expect people will come.
3. Caring for your animals and riders is key.
Your business counts on animals being healthy and happy and your clients also need to be satisfied with your services. This means that you need to plan your farm for horse and handler safety and make sure that you have a schedule that works for everyone involved and that is easy and predictable. Don’t cut corners when it comes to vet and farriers. Don’t cut corners when it comes to training your animals. Don’t make things difficult for your students or your customers coming to enjoy your business.
4. Be flexible and plan for the unexpected
Horse businesses are unpredictable. Sometimes you have to wing it. Stick to your plan when possible but be prepared to deviate and modify when necessary. Have a contingency plan in place for emergencies so you know that you or your employees have step to take to get through a crisis as smoothly as possible.
5. Do what you love
Planning may be boring for many but you will soon figure out which aspects of your business are using up your time and which are the most enjoyable or productive for you. Focus on areas where you are both successful and happy. It’ll ensure longevity in what you do.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Everyone has areas of strength and weakness. Do what you do well and ask for help from experts when you get stuck. Sometimes there is a better way to do things and simply asking will save you time and pain in the long run. Defer to experts such as vets and farriers.
7. Don’t follow every piece of advice you get
Advice is free and sometimes that’s because it’s worthless. A lot of people have opinions about what is and isn’t right in the horse industry and the best thing you can do is learn to accept advice graciously and ignore it when you know it’s bad. It’s ok to listen and ignore, especially if you already know you’re on the right path.
Thanks for taking the time to read our first post. Stay tuned for future blog posts.