Starting a new horse business is extremely tough and you might be in for the shock of your life when it comes to money and the lack of it. The truth is almost all new start-up businesses are in the red for some time. How you handle the first couple of years of your horse business will set you up for the rest. I believe the reason many new horse boarding barns go out of business in the first few years is because of two things. The first one being that the person was not prepared for all the extra expenses and they keep borrowing more and more until there is no more left to borrow. The second one is that they really didn't have a true understanding of what good barn management is and how to run a barn and deal with clients. Their turnover becomes extremely high and the income is too low to support their debt. I understand both these scenarios too well because I have done both of them and we almost lost our farm and business within the first few years.
Starting a horse business is a dream come true for many people who love horses as much as me. I do believe it takes a very strong person to start any kind of business because you are going to go through many trials and you will be asked to sacrifice more than you can imagine. It takes an even more incredibly strong person to understand that money is going to be tight for possibly a long time and they are willing to give up some of the comforts and perks they are used to in order to make sure their business becomes strong, stable and financially fit.
When reality sets in
When we built our barn and indoor riding arena I didn't really understand what it meant to sacrifice or live with less until the business was up and going and reality set in. I had read books and heard many entrepreneurs talk about sacrificing and how broke they were in the beginning but it really didn't sink in until I was living it on a daily basis. I am going to be honest and tell you that starting our boarding business was much more difficult than I imagined.
Today I want to encourage you to really take an honest look at your horse business. Your job of running your barn is going to be hard especially when you are doing it seven days a week year after year because you can't afford to hire anyone to help out. David and I have been through that and it will burn you out fast. The best thing you can do for your business, yourself and family is to understand that for the first couple of years you might not be able to go on a vacation or eating out will be extremely limited. You might have to give up going to that high end coffee place and buying new clothes will be few and far between. You will need to find out where you can cut back so you can make it through the lean years.
Finances and burnout go hand in hand
I am writing this post today because too many new businesses fail and I hear about barns going out of business all the time. I am sure the reasons are many but it would be safe to say that a couple of the biggest reasons would be financial and burnout. They go hand in hand and the sooner you get the finances under control the less likely you are to have burnout.
My question for you today is are you strong enough to be broke for a while? Are you willing to sacrifice some of the things you are used to spending money on to get your business firmly planted? Are you willing to drive and old vehicle and not have a truck or trailer payment because it is not in the budget? These are real decisions that many barn owners need to make and I want you to remember that you are in it for the long haul. It can be very hard at times when you don't have the money and you see your clients buying all kinds of new tack and saddles and even trucks and trailers. I want you to remember that you can't compare your lifestyle to theirs and you need to be okay with it.
Look down the road for the first five years and have a plan. Many of your boarders you have now will leave and many of them will get out of horses after their kids have graduated high school. They will spend a lot of money in a short period of time but you are not in a sprint, you are in a marathon and you want to come out at the other end as a strong and financially fit business.
Today I encourage you to find a mentor to talk with. Someone who has started their horse business and they are a success story. The best thing you can do is talk with other business owners who have been down the same road and ask them how they got through the lean years without going crazy. Finding a support system will be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
You will never become rich owning a horse business but you will have the richest life possible if you do it right in the beginning
If you took the time to read all the way through this post today then you are ready to look at the big picture of your future and your business. You may have to drive a twenty year old vehicle like I did but remember that you won't have a car payment and that is a much better feeling than the stress of trying to make your payment each month. Take it slow with your business and it will all come together. It just takes time and an inner strength that I know you have deep down inside.
If you are new to my blog, then welcome! I wrote my newest book to give you an in-depth look into the business of boarding horses and all that it entails. This post today is one small example of what my new book addresses. If you are boarding horses or are planning on it, please check out, "A Step By Step Guide To Starting And Running A Successful Horse Boarding Business." It is a very comprehensive book on boarding horses and covers every part of it from building your barn or stable to solid barn management. I wrote this book because I realized there is an information gap when it comes to this subject and my goal is to help others so they don't make all the mistakes I made when we first opened our boarding facility. I want you to be prepared for the crazy and wonderful new career you are going into. I wish you many blessings in your horse business, Sheri Grunska