Would You be A Good Business owner in the Equine Industry?

Monthly business advise from blueribbonaccounting.com

Monthly business advise from BlueRibbonAccounting.com
Monthly business advise from BlueRibbonAccounting.com

I’m not sure what this says about the economy but in the past year, I’ve had more people contact me for advice about starting a business than any other time in my career. And in almost every case, the base economic unit of the business was going to be a boarding barn. My first question for anyone in this situation is “Have you ever owned a business before?”  And in most cases, the answer is “no”.  If we only do things we’ve done before, we don’t grow and life would get pretty boring pretty quickly. But owning a business is a big investment of time and money so you want to be sure that you are suited for the task.  Owning a business requires some specialized skills, owning a horse-related business even more so and owning a boarding business requires a very special type of person. 
Would you be a good business owner?
Would you be a good horse business owner?
Would you be a good boarding business owner?

Would You Be a Good Business Owner?
Can you manage your time effectively?  You’ll have multiple demands on your time – from your customers, your vendors and your employees.  You need to be able to prioritize what is the most pressing.

Can you relate to each group of interested parties – customers, vendors and employees – in order to communicate with them effectively and create some common ground without sacrificing the needs of your business?

Are you willing to be the go-to person when the hot water heater lets go at 9 pm on a Friday night, your assistant calls in sick and you had scheduled some well-deserved time off, etc? 

Can you serve as the manager for your customer service, sales, finance, marketing and operations departments? You don’t have to have a lot of specialized knowledge.  You can hire that but you need to know what you need to know and what someone else can handle.

Do you have A LOT of patience?In your business owner tool box, patience is the most used tool you own- patience with your employees, your customers, your vendors, yourself and your business. Even the most prosperous businesses usually take a long time to get to that point.  So you need to believe in your business and be willing for it to grow into itself.

Are you flexible?  Can you see alternatives and are you willing to shift course if something just isn’t working out?  Businesses are living, growing things and don’t always react in the way that you expect.  So you need to be able to recognize that and respond accordingly.

Would You Be a Good Horse Business Owner?
If you’ve gotten this far down the list, there are special characteristics required of business owners that work in the equine industry. 

Horse owners are primarily motivated by passion for their animals.  That passion can bring out characteristics in them that may not be in evidence when they interact with others outside the horse world.  Can you empathize with your clients while still being able to effectively serve their needs and the needs of their horses? 

Are you willing to accept that what’s currently in vogue – whether it be a breed, a trainer or a saddle – can have a big effect on your particular business, even if you don’t think it should?  I wish I could say that hardworking people that offer good customer service always succeed but that isn’t always the case.  Long-established trainers can lose valuable clients when someone “new and shiny” moves into the area and promises better results in less time.  And if that client was a big part of your bottom line, your business may not survive while you wait for her to realize her mistake or for a new client with a big wallet to walk through your door.

Can you live with A LOT of uncertainty?  Horses break, clients leave you, there are some things you just can’t fix.  Can you live with that knowledge on a daily basis without a regular intake of antacids?

Would You Be a Good Boarding Business Owner?
Caring for someone’s horse is like caring for someone child.  Are you able to be as accommodating as possible to the requests of your boarders without incurring additional labor costs, wearing yourself out or losing your mind?  In some cases, the shavings will always be too thick or too thin so you have to develop a thick skin when listening to complaints but still be open to trying to give the client what they want.

Are you willing to be on call 24/7? I’m not just referring to colicking horses and early morning feedings. Even if you set hours of operation for your barn (which I highly recommend), you will still have the occasional visit from an owner who had to work late every day this week and wasn’t able to get to the barn to see Sparky until midnight or the owner who wanted to deliver Sparky’s Christmas stocking and noticed that he “looks a little funny”, just as you are sitting down for Christmas dinner.  Even while you are away on vacation, you will still receive phone calls about something that could easily be handled by your barn manager.

See more articles provided monthly by Carol Gordon CPA - Blue Ribbon Accounting in our Virtula Vendor Section

Visit her website at blueribbonaccounting.com and sign up for her monthly newsletter.