The same is so true with starting a business. Starting a horse business is not easy by any measure and it shocks most people that get into the business because they are not prepared for the long days and hard work that comes with working with animals and being self-employed. The truth is we never are completely prepared to start a business. We might think we are until we get through the first month and then reality sets in.
As women, we tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to please and be liked with dissapointment to follow many times. I really believe that if we stop trying to be everything to everyone and consentrate on what is truly important, things will start to fall into place. That may mean coming out of your comfort zone to make decisions that are not popular and that is okay. You are going to learn to get your emotions under control as a businesswoman and once you start to figure this part out, it will give you a sense of freedom and you will feel the weight lifted off your shoulders.
Here is a list of some things you will find yourself dealing with and the emotion of it all can be very high. After all, we are women and at least for me, I know I can be emotional at times.
Forgive often - When you are working with clients there are going to be times that you don't see eye to eye on matters. Sometimes tempers will flare and it could be from your client and it could easily be from you. Learning to forgive and move forward it crucial to creating an atmosphere that tells your clients you care about them and have respect for them. This has worked both ways at my barn. I am so blessed to have boarders that have forgiven me when I have made a mistake or have lost my temper and have shown me grace. I have also needed to forgive my clients at times and learning to forgive them is freeing for my soul and well-being and keeps the bond strong between the barn owner/manager and client relationship.
Be gentle - There are going to be times when you need to talk with a client about an issue at your barn. It is never easy but if you are gentle in your approach and honest, the outcome usually ends much better than anticipated. I really believe that we all handle issues easier when the person doing the talking is gentle in their approach.
Be understanding - You are going to find out that many of your clients are going to be new horse owners. They are going to need guidance and understanding because they are going to make many mistakes along the way. Try to remember back to when you owned your first horse. We were all newbies at one time and there is a good chance we all made some of those same mistakes.
Don't walk away - This is a hard one but if you are in a heated conversation with a client, don't walk away in a fit of rage. I have also made this mistake and I have had to crawl back out of my house and into the barn to apologize. Listen to their side of the issue and then explain your view. It may not end up resolved and that is okay. You can go from there on how to resolve the issue but stomping out of the barn angry doesn't help the situation at all.
Let the small stuff go - Sometimes you need to let some of the small stuff go. You can't micromanage your clients and trying to do that will only make your life crazy. We all do things a little different when it comes to our horses. As long as the rules are being followed and safety is the main concern let your clients have some space.
It can be mended if you try - Many of us don't try to mend our relationships with people because it is difficult and painful work at the time. The same would be so true with our clients. Misunderstandings will happen and feelings will get hurt sometime along the way. Don't let it go. Mend it. Your clients should be valuable to you and if you don't ever work in mending the relationship you will eventually have very few clients because they will find a new barn to go to.
Be professional even when you don't want to be - There are going to be days when you don't want to be professional and you don't want to be the barn owner or manager. It will happen but hopefully not often. You have decided to run a business and with that comes certain responsibilities with the job. being professional is something that I see less and less these days. You can go into any business and find a person or two that are acting completely unprofessional and it could really hurt a sale in that store. You have a business owner/client relationship and it will not change as long as the client is at your barn. You need to be very careful about how you act and what you say because your clients will watch everything you do and they want to make sure their horse is being taken care of by a true professional.
You have worked extremely hard to call yourself a professional horsewoman. Embrace your new title, position and job and take the good with the bad and learn and grow from each experience at your barn. Yes, you are going to work extremely hard at your job. Not only will you have the chores to do on a daily basis but you will also be running your barn through all types of weather, life events both good and bad and changes in clients through the years. Your barn will evolve and grow as so will you. How you handle each situation will become easier the more you choose not to walk way but instead deal with it.
You will work harder than you ever have before but when you think you can't work any harder, step it up a notch and go the extra mile. You will never regret it and that is what successful horse businesses are made of.
One more thought- One day you will go out to the barn and as you are reflecting back on your early years starting your business, you will finally realize you don't have all the issues you had in the beginning. That is when you know that your hard work and professionalism paid off. Congratulations when you finally realize this! That is when you have made it. Today I celebrate the professional horsewoman you have become.
Ladies, I have just published my fourth book, "One Horsewoman to Another." This book was written for you because I know how difficult the road is to becoming confident in yourself. Trying to do it all can be duanting yet as a wife, mother, friend and equine professional, we try to make it all work. Sometimes we need a little encouragement along the way that is why I felt such a passion to write this book. This book will lift and inspire you and you will realize you are not alone.
I wish you many blessings in your horse business.