For horse mad folk having an equestrian business can seem like the dream ticket. Instead of going to work, pretending to be a grownup all day and worrying about work that definitely isn’t four legged, you can spend your time surrounded by reminders of your favourite animals. Days will fly by… won’t they?!
Well, for the most part, it is rather brilliant. But, just like starting any business of your own, there will be pros and cons… Luckily, Elevator Equestrian’s Jo is here to give you a realistic take on what it’s like to run your very own equestrian business. Here are her dos and don’ts of starting a horsey enterprise:
Do make the most of the flexibility. If you’re organised and plan your work in advance you can take a day off for a birthday or social event. Or, if you’re ahead and the weather is amazing, spend some time soaking up the sun! Of course, you’ll probably end up working evenings or the odd weekend to make up for it. But make sure you enjoy being your own master…
Don’t be surprised when customers call you at 8pm at night… If they’re busy working during ‘office’ hours, chances are they’ll remember that they need to ask an urgent question in the evening or on a Bank Holiday! I’ve had people order on a Sunday evening and call me on Monday morning to see where their order is.
Do make sure you get some accounting software that works for you and suits your business. It will make your life so much easier, help you stay on the right side of the tax man and ensure you’re tracking costs as well as revenue. If you hate numbers and paperwork, I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It can feel quite lonely when you start a business, especially if you’re used to being in a busy work environment. There’s no one to bounce ideas off or lean on… But look around – ask other people in your sector or industry for advice if you get stuck. You’ll never know if you don’t ask, and you might even be able to help them with something.
Do outsource the tasks you struggle with or dislike. It can feel like you need to be a jack of all trades; learning accounting, marketing, sales, admin and logistics. Remember where your skills lie and if you need to outsource work to cope, make sure you outsource the bits you are weakest at or enjoy the least.
Don’t neglect your suppliers. For example, my business would be nothing without my English leather and the amazing team that crafts it into the Elevator bridles. When you find good, trustworthy suppliers, put the time in to look after them.
Do trust your gut instinct and be prepared to do things differently. The same approach (to promotion, advertising or sponsorship, for example) that works for competitor business might not work for you. If you have a gut feeling that something will work, try that! You’re the expert and you need to trust yourself.
Don’t forget to ask for a selfie if you’re lucky enough to end up working with riders you have grown up idolising! I’ve had the chance to sponsor riders I used to read about in magazines and have to stop and pinch myself that it was real…
Do your research with shows before you book a stand. Tradeshows are so much fun and can be very profitable. But they can also be a lot of hard work for little reward, so consider going as a spectator first or ask business owners who have exhibited there before how it went.
Don’t forget to remind yourself every day that you work in an industry you love! A positive mindset will go a long way and your enthusiasm will be infectious to your customers, suppliers and supporters. Enjoy every moment!