I believe it can be a little overwhelming for most people when they are trying to figure out life and career and the equine industry can be a very difficult business to make a living at. After talking with this young woman for a while I encouraged her to find a horse facility that would let her work there and really get to know the operation. I encouraged her to find a reputable barn and see if the barn owners would share about their business and find out what the expenses were to keep a barn and business going. I also told her to see if they would let her volunteer (if they were not hiring) and tag along each morning when they start morning chores and go home after the final lights are turned out for the night so she could really get a feel for the work entailed.
I truly believe to get an honest view and experience of daily chores and farm work you need to do it for a period of time and you need to experience it throughout all four seasons. Chores and working with horses is always easy when the sun is shining and the ground is dry. What about when it is extremely cold outside and your hands are frozen or extremely hot and you feel exhausted? Doing chores is a seven day a week job and you don't get to take time off because the weather is bad. So many people are not prepared for that and they burn themselves out.
I have had many people over the years come and work for us at our farm and I get the same response from most of them. They are surprised at the amount of work it takes to keep the farm going and it never ends. Some of them decide right away that they don't want their own business and would rather board. It is so much better to find out sooner than later especially if you are thinking of starting your own business and going into debt to start it.
The other question this woman had for me was about money and financing a business. Should she take out a large loan and build or start out smaller? My answer to her was easy. I told her I would start out small and see if you really love it even when the days are long and things are not going right. One of the biggest mistakes David and I made in the beginning was that we built too big at first and with that came a huge business mortgage. It is very true that you really do become slave to the lender when you are deep in debt.
We jumped right in and even though we understood the work involved it still was a shock when all the horses came and the responsibility of the job became very real. It was something I was not prepared for and it took me a long time to get used to it. I love talking with young people that have a heart for horses and want to make a career working with horses. It makes me smile for them when I hear the excitement in their voice. It truly is a wonderful job but even the best jobs are going to have extremely difficult days once in a while. Are you ready to handle those days? Take your time and lay a good foundation so the surprises are good ones and even on your worst day you still love your job more than anything.
There are always going to be a few muddy days. Learning to roll with them takes time, experience and even a little prayer at times doesn't hurt. The muddy days will pass. They always do.
The last thing I told this young woman was to find someone that can mentor her and that is a positive person. Find someone that runs their farm with integrity and honesty and will help you and give you honest advice. Whether you are going to board horses or train them, breed or race horses for a living, finding a mentor will be one of the most important and valuable things you can do.
One of my biggest mistakes I made early on was that I didn't go to anyone for advice. David and I kept to ourselves and we should have talked with others in the industry that were more knowledgeable about building and starting a horse business. After all the first two or three years of your business are the most crucial and your learning curve will go through the roof during that time. That is the most important time to have a mentor in your field.
Remember that starting a horse business is a journey not a sprint. Take your time and find someone that is willing to answer your questions and mentor you along the way.
I truly love my job today. I have to be very honest and tell you that the first three years were not fun and there were many days when I wanted to give up. I learned many lessons through the mistakes I made but now I can tell you that those mistakes helped me grow as a business owner. Having your own business is great and if that is where you are heading I encourage you to talk with people and get as much experience as you can. Creating a good foundation in the beginning is vital for a healthy business.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! If you are just starting out in your planning stages of your horse business or need some help now that you are in it, I would love to encourage you to check out my two books. My first one, "What it really takes to start and run a horse business" is my families journey of starting our horse boarding business and about learning from our mistakes especially during the first couple of years. My second book, "The total horse barn management makeover," is about the relationship between the barn owner/barn manager and client and how to resolve the issues that will come up when you are running a horse business of any kind. These books will take you deep inside the business world and will inspire and give you the tools to get through those tough days and situations. You won't find more honest books out there about running a horse business.
I wish you the very best in your horse endeavors,