One of the main reasons I wrote my book, "A step by step guide to starting and running a successful horse boarding business," is because I realized that there wasn't any other books on how to get started and I mean starting from empty farmland. Starting from the very beginnings of new construction and all that goes with it was a much bigger undertaking then I ever dreamed.
There are many people who will tell you that you can't make a living at boarding horses but I am here to say that you can. You just need to be very smart about it and very conservative in the early years. Many people fall in love with the idea of boarding horses for many different reasons but many of them do not do their homework to find out how much everything will cost to run their farm through all four seasons. Even the change of seasons will bring different expenses. I am going to be very honest and tell you that I had rose colored glasses on myself. I thought it was going to be so much easier than it was and after I had added up all the numbers for income each month I thought we were going to have plenty of money after all the bills were paid. That was not the case at all.
David and I made so many mistakes in our building process and even during the first three years of our business and it hurt us financially. Now after many years things are finally starting to become easier. That is why I felt is was so very important to write a book about the subject. I don't want anyone to go through what we went through and I believe if you do it right the first time, you can make an honest living at boarding horses. You will never become rich but you will be rich in life doing what you love to do.
A huge misconception
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about our farm is that they think we are making all kinds of money. They see our barn, the number of horses we have on the property and what we charge for board and they add it all up. What they don't realize at all is the huge expense that is attached to run the farm and pay the business mortgage. They don't know what our hay cost for the year, insurance, fuel or even electricity. The people who do ask are always a little in shock when I tell them what our monthly bills are to keep the place going. I do believe that if I can be honest and help someone who wants to get into the business, it can only help them start out much better then we did.
Give it two years
Estimating your monthly expenses can take a couple of years (through all four seasons) to have a realistic view of income coming in and expenses going out. Those early years are a critical time and that is when you need to be the most conservative. I always tell people slow and steady always wins. It might not be fun at the time but it is very important for good business decisions. Now many years later I also encourage people to write up a business plan for yourself whether you need to borrow money or not. You will see new things in your business that you have never thought of before. Most people think that you only need to prepare a business plan if you are borrowing money but that is not true. Do it for yourself! Preparing a business plan will be the smartest thing you do in those early stages. Starting your horse business off on the right foot with a solid foundation is so much easier then finding out two years later that you are losing money and everything is costing so much more than you estimated.
Learning to run a business is one thing but it is very hard to run a business if you have to work a second job on top of it. We did that for many years because of the mistakes we made in the beginning and it will wear you down and burn you out. I encourage you to take some time and see what it really takes to start and run a horse business. Do your homework and ask questions. It will pay off in the long run. It truly is the greatest job when you can go out to the barn each morning and be around horses all day but it is even sweeter when you don't have to worry about every penny and how you are going to pay the monthly bills.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are looking for a book that will help you lay a good foundation for your horse business, I encourage you to read my book, "What it really takes to start and run a horse business." It is the story of Vinland Stables and all that it took to get our business up and going. David and I made many mistakes during our early years of business ownership and I don't want anyone to ever go through what we went through. It also includes a section on how to write a business plan, barn rules and our boarding contract.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business,