All horse businesses (and small businesses), want most to succeed, improve and be the best for the long haul. Certainly, having a business has many freedoms, but it also involves trying to do everything to get it right. Here are key pointers essential for all trying to make their equine industry businesses stay successful, growing and improving.
Your business is its own entity. You form an LLC or incorporate your to separate yourself from business liability and to assist with legal and financial obligations. As such, having separate business and personal accounts are truly one of the first and most important steps a business owner needs to stay smart. When trying to get loans, mortgages, etc, separation of the business from personal accounts becomes essential to not "muddy the waters" and to showcase the business in a professional light.
This can't be stressed enough. Without happy clients and customers, there will be no business. Your customers are your business, so treat them all with respect and place value on each one.
You got into the business because you love horses and have a talent, whether that be in the veterinary field, as a farrier, trainer, rider, or something else in the horse business. Perhaps you have a great business that caters to the equine industry. Regardless of your talents, focus on those skills and abilities and always stay open to learning more.
If areas of your business are NOT your strengths, then outsourcing that work, hiring contractors, or potentially staff to correctly tackle those issues is your smartest move to help your business, save money and time. Outsourcing office needs like bookkeeping, payroll, bill pay, marketing, etc., can save money and time. By not paying an employee, you eliminate having to pay worker's compensation, insurance and health benefits, etc.
Using mentors and getting business support, spending time as a working student or doing an internship, or even joining business organizations can all help give ideas, support and education. All provide invaluable experiences that will serve long after each has ended. Regardless, always looking for new avenues where the business can succeed is necessary for long-term business viability.
How many times have you gone onto a website, only to find it difficult to understand and use? Keeping your website easy to read and understand, as well as simple and user friendly can be your single most important rule to follow to keep customers and generate sales. It is also the first vision that a potential client has into your business so showing your business in its best light is paramount.
Along the same path as having separate accounts for business and personal, keeping accurate and careful records for business is essential for tax-time, for determining deductions and with avoiding/fixing the dreaded audit. The "paper trail" has come a LONG WAY and now all receipts can be stored and kept "digitally", keeping a record and making correct classifications immediate. Keeping up with technology is essential, so the" shoebox of receipts" is just simply not good enough, nor is it necessary anymore.
As mentioned above, the business areas may not be your strong points, but running a business requires looking at and understanding financial statements, such as the income statement (profit and loss) and the balance sheet. Having your bookkeeper, CPA or other trusted financial advisor help you read and understand these reports can be invaluable to keep your business healthy and growing. Think about it…you pay for a lawyer because you neither understand nor are trained in legal matters-the same is true of office, marketing and other business needs.
If customers don't know who you are, or what you do, then they won't know who you are, or what you do. Effective advertising and marketing doesn't always have to cost money, either. Today's social media can be used very effectively to get your message and mission out for very little financial investment. Paid advertising will always be an essential part of business but staying on a budget is more possible than ever in today's online age.
You got into the business because you are an excellent trainer, rider, veterinarian, farrier, etc, not because you wanted to spend hours in the office, staying up with technology. If you don't have time, or resources to ensure that your office is "up to speed", be sure that those who handle your business stay current with trends and technology to keep your business sharp.
Perhaps one of the most important steps to a business is having a sense of humor and being true to yourself and what you are trying to accomplish. Certainly, having your own business has its ups and downs, so take the time to appreciate where you have been successful and look at "failure" as opportunities to learn new skills and move in other, more successful directions. Your business is your baby, so love, feed and nurture it for health and productivity.
Hopefully, these tips give you some valuable insight into making your good horse business great. Because my business specializes in improving all businesses in the equine industry, I can see areas of strength and weaknesses that are perhaps to "close to the bone" for you to recognize in your business. I have successfully managed farms, equine programs, veterinary clinics and facilities since 1994, so I fully understand the steps needed to keep improving and moving forward. Contact me to get a free consultation. If you order by June 30, your first month is free when you sign up for a bookkeeping package. In the meantime, have a successful summer, put profit first and trot on. ☺