I have always been crazy about horses and working in the horse industry seemed like the perfect way to make a living. I know that for many women this is their dream come true. If you are obsessed with horses and would rather be out at barn in your old jeans and boots than dressed up for your office job, you are not alone. Many women fall in love with horses as young girls and the love for these animals just keeps growing stronger. If you decide to start a horse business of any kind, you are going to change in so many ways as you become a businesswoman and equine professional. Your love will still be just as strong but you will definitely look at horses and your life in a much different way as time passes by. I wanted to share ten things that I believe every woman should know before she decides to become a professional horsewoman. Some equine professions might have more risks involved than others but the emotional side of it all will be something that most women will experience on some level.
1. You are going to be on an emotional roller coaster at first. When we started our horse boarding business, I was on an emotional high every day. Then things started to change and with the issues came many new emotions as a professional. I went from complete happiness to confusion, anger and even regret at times. I also started out feeling pretty good about my knowledge level and barn management skills and that was tested beyond belief and with that came insecurity quite often.
I now believe most women who become business owners will experience many of these same emotions. I want you to know that if you hang in there long enough and tough it out, you will eventually experience new emotions of joy, peace and contentment because you made it. Don't give up because the best is ahead and it is worth fighting for.
2. You might be broke in the beginning The truth is that most new business start off with no money because all of it is going back into the business. With horses, the overhead is so high that you will spend many months wondering where all your money is going. It is an adjustment to say the least. As women, this can be extremely stressful. You will learn to dig deep and find an inner strength to be okay with doing without for a while as you get your finances under control. You may not be able to buy all the things you used to but you are doing what you have always wanted to do and that is worth so much more than anything money can buy.
3. You will second guess your knowledge There is no way around it. When you are in business, you will have clients and with that comes many situations that will catch you off guard. Add in the horses and you are setting up a situation for the perfect storm if you are not prepared. You will have many different clients that own horses and they will each have their own idea of what great horse care is. Finding a balance between how you do things and what your clients are looking for is definitely something that takes time (even years) for you to figure out. In the meantime you will have people that will be very opinionated and will question everything you do and even challenge you. As a woman this can be very hard to take and even intimidating and I now believe every new professional experiences this to some degree. I sure did! There were many days where I went up to my house and asked myself if I knew enough to actually be taking care of other peoples horses.
I want to encourage you to hang in there and keep learning and even when you make mistakes (which I have made plenty of them) don't give up. Don't allow another person to kill your dream.
4. Not everyone will like your decisions You will make decisions every day for your business. Many of them will be regarding the horses in your care but that is only one part of it all. You will make decisions about your barn rules and that will change as the years go by. You will make decisions based on your families needs and that will affect your clients as well. You finances will change and that may mean changes for your boarders and the list goes on and on. You will always have clients that are not thrilled with some of the decisions you make and that is okay. You will learn that it is a business first and you need to do what is best for you and your family. This can be hard for women to fully grasp at first (it was for me) but you will become more confident in your decisions the longer you are running your business.
5. Learning to say no is so important This is a huge one for women. We love to please others and for most of us, we have a very hard time saying no. If I can give any words of advice, learn to say no when that inner voice is telling you to. You are jumping into a very busy lifestyle and you are going to be exhausted often. Horses are wonderful but they need our care seven days a week and your days will become very long. You family will need you and something will eventually give. In many cases that is where burnout comes in and it can steal your dreams away. Learning to say no is the sign that you are maturing into a confident businesswoman.
6. You will be tempted... As a businesswoman, you will be asked to compromise how you do things at your barn. You will be asked to look the other way for friendship. You will be tempted to cut corners to speed up the chores and other jobs that need to be done at your barn. You might even be tempted to lie when you have made a mistake. The truth is you are going to have a battle brewing inside of you from time to time and how you handle yourself when no one is looking will be a true definition of who you are and how you run your horse business. Don't let temptation define who you are. You are better than that.
7. You will cry a few times The truth is that owning a horse business is wonderful, stressful, exhausting and painful all at the same time. The emotions you are going to experience are normal and if you are anything like me, then crying will be a part of it from time to time. You will get your feelings hurt by what a client says to you and learning to keep the tears under control until the conversation is over and you are alone will be difficult at first. I now believe every businesswoman has cried at one time or another. It is hard not to when the conversation gets heated and the words cut like a knife. Don't look down at yourself if you had a moment where your emotions got the best of you. Hold your head high and keep going forward. The longer you are in business, the more control you will have over your emotions and the tears that follow.
8. You will feel lonely When we first opened our boarding barn I was so busy all the time that I didn't have a chance to feel lonely. At least not at first. I had people here at the barn all the time and there was always someone to talk with. That was until I had to make changes or correct someone where issues were starting grow. That is when I realized that I was a business owner and my boarders were paying clients and the two needed to have boundaries. I had to start separating myself at times to maintain a professional position. It took me a few years to realize that I needed to rekindle my friendships outside my barn and business and when I did that, the loneliness disappeared. Don't lose the friendships you had before you started your business. They will be the ones you go to when you need someone to lean on.
9. You might be misjudged Your family and friends might not understand your choice of career at first. They might even feel that you spend your days "Playing with horses." Some poeple will think you are bringing in lots of money because they will drive by your home and barn and see all the horses. They will silently add up the number of horses times your board or training rate and assume you doing quite well. They will not realize your high overhead to keep your place operating and that is okay. What matters is that you took a chance to make your dreams come true and you are amazing just for trying.
10. You will be humbled Be prepared to be humbled. Before you started your horse business, it was easy to look at other barn managers, trainers, breeders or other equine professionals and talk like you could do it so much better. You might have told yourself that you would do things much differently and you would never make the mistakes that others have made. Get ready because you are in for a big awakening. It is always easy to look at something from the outside and give an opinion but until you are walking in their shoes, be careful.
Running any kind of horse business will humble you beyond anything you imagined. You might be very good at what you do, but there will be many mistakes made along the way. It happens to all of us because horses are unpredictable and they can cause us to make poor decisions at the time because we have become frustrated, exhausted, stressed, pushed to the limit and so on. Learn from each experience both good and bad and one day you will be glad that those difficult times happened because that is when you grew the most as a professional horsewoman.
Remember that you are a woman with so much to offer. You give a depth to business ownership that will make your business incredibly special. You are going to experience so many new things as a professional and you will learn so much about yourself. You are about to learn how truly strong you are. Remember that the tough days will always pass and the job will become so much easier because you will become more confident in who you are. That is when you will really start to love your job and career!
If you need a little encouragement today, please check out a book I wrote last year. It is truly one of my favorites because it talks about the journey each woman will go on when she starts her horse business. "One Horsewoman to Another" This book is perfect for the businesswoman.
I want to wish you many blessings in your horse business, Sheri Grunska