As the new owner of a boarding business and the barn manager, I really didn't give any thought to what my job would include. It seemed pretty straight forward and simple to me. My husband David and I would feed horses and clean stalls. I would grain each horse and give supplements and the occasional medication as part of my job. We would put the horses outside each morning and bring them in each afternoon. There would be water buckets to fill and of course the cleaning was never ending. I knew I would have boarders with questions now and then (especially if they were brand new horse owners) but for the most part I thought my life would be pretty simple and the boarders really wouldn't need much from me. Did I have a lot to learn about running a business to say the least!
Most people that want to have a career with horses already have a good idea that it is not a nine to five job with weekends off. David and I knew that also. We were prepared to work seven days a week doing daily chores if we needed to and looking back that was the easy part. It was all the requests and needs of our clients early on that caught us off guard and we didn't know where to draw the line or how to say no to certain requests. It is very hard to find that line between your business and personal life when you live on same property as the business and you are open seven days a week.
We have wonderful boarders at our barn and they know me pretty well and understand that my family needs our "time off" from working even if we are at home on the farm. This was something we didn't have in our early years and it is something that you have to establish. You need to make it clear to them and most of the time they will understand. If they don't understand then your barn might not be the right barn for them. If you don't have a clear job description for yourself and what is allowed and not allowed then your clients will have no way of knowing it either.
If you are going to run a horse business then I encourage you to set guidelines and start to learn where the boundaries are for you, your family and your clients. There are going to be the times when an emergency happens and you need to be there but there will be many situations when you don't need to be and it will be fine. Setting boundaries and understanding what our job description really entails are the first steps in creating a healthy and strong business.
One last thought- I truly believe one of the reasons a barn starts to have issues is because the barn owner or manager is in over their head and they become burned out. They can become physically or emotionally burned out and easily it can be both at the same time. They were not prepared for the daily situations that come up with their clients and problem solving will become part of the everyday job. Once this happens many business owners start to give up and things go downhill because they don't care anymore. this is very real in business ownership very real and it happens more often then most people think. If you are starting to feel stressed and mentally exhausted and spread too thin, there is a good chance you have not set up healthy boundaries and a clear job description for you and your horse business.
Finding a balance is key to lasting and not burning yourself out. Take time to talk with others in the same career as you and find out what works best for your job and life and stick to it. It is a business first and you need to run it like a business. Once you start to do that, you will see your job become much easier. It will change your barn, business and life for the better!
If you are new to my blog and my post then welcome! I have written a very honest book about the relationship between the barn owner/manager and client. "The Total Horse Barn Management Makeover." is unlike any other barn management book because it deals with the very real issues that come up when running a boarding barn or other horse business. This book will help you work through the difficult situations that happen when you own your own horse business. It is so much more than cleaning stalls and feeding horses. It is about really learning to become a leader and business owner. Let me help you get there without all the mistakes I made when we first opened for business. It's a great life and job!
Wishing you many blessings in your horse business,