Spring cleaning for Equestrian business owners

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Springtime is always a good time to do a thorough sort and clean. Not only for your tack room at the barn or your wardrobe but also for your business.

Often us entrepreneurs find ourselves bogged down by all the little things that need to get done to keep the business up and running, so every once in a while it’s really good to do some spring cleaning of your everyday activities.

Take a little time to sort through all the elements and activities required to your business and make an assessment if they fit in either one of below categories:

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URGENT – IMPORTANT

Do it now type of activities, like answering suppliers/clients or sending over approval of your final designs to get them done in time for production.

NOT URGENT – IMPORTANT

Things you can plan for and still have ample time to work on i.e. your annual marketing plan, an upcoming event/tradefair, photoshoot planning or updating your e-commerce platform.

URGENT – NOT IMPORTANT

Things that have really got to be done, but that are maybe not necessarily leveraging your key strengths as an entrepreneur: can someone do your weekly bill paying for you? Maybe someone would love to help you pack your orders? Can you get some help sorting out your warehouse in a more logical way?

NOT URGENT – NOT IMPORTANT

The ultimate spring cleaning category: do you really have to spend an hour google searching a new font for an Instagram post? Is that part of your website adding any value or just bogging it down? Have a good think, and if it’s neither urgent nor important then simply don’t do it!

In an ideal world most of our working time would be spent in the NOT URGENT – IMPORTANT category, but most of the time we find ourselves in neverending URGENT – IMPORTANT mode. A little spring cleaning can help you declutter your activities, focus on what really drives your business and have more time to work on the fun stuff.

Need help with your spring cleaning?

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On barn time

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Us equestrians are very familiar with the concept of ‘barn time‘: that unique phenomenon in which time seems to magically disappear when at the barn. We have all heard ourselves say: I’ll be home at 9 and find yourself still rolling up polo wraps at 10 o’clock, knowing very well that your start-up admin for the day is waiting for you or you are now running frightfully late for that important business appointment (breeches to the office anyone?).

Now, why do we always run into this magical web of ‘barn time‘? Is it procrastination (putting off the things we know need to be done… but don’t necessarily like to do) or is it simply because when we enjoy what we do we seem to lose track of time while doing so.

Still, we then all know that sinking feeling when arriving back at home or the office and realizing there’s not enough time left to get done what needs to be done that day.

Here are a few tips and tricks to manage that inevitable ‘barn time‘ effect a little bit better and still get things done:

BE REALISTIC

How long does it really take to prep a horse, ride and take care of all the other daily barn things, while still feeling like you’re not rushing around and you can focus on your training plan for the day? Time yourself for a week and lock down the average time you will need in your agenda as a fixed appointment with yourself (including travel time!). This way you can’t double book yourself, will have plenty of time to take care of your four-legged friend and still be back in time to join that important conference call.

PLAN BACKWARDS

How long does it really take to write that business plan, get the design in for a new collection or train for that upcoming competition? Once you know your deadline, start planning backward with all the steps that need to be taken to achieve the set goal: realize you need more time? Either postpone the deadline or prioritize the really important milestones that need to be done and delay other projects. Especially if you are an equestrian and are juggling work family and friends, you are at some point going to have to make some difficult choices on what you can really squeeze into your 24h day.

GET THE NASTY DONE FIRST

Set ‘barn time’ as reward time: get the things done that might otherwise get pushed to tomorrow and then enjoy your time at the barn (however long it might take…)

 

Need some help to prioritize what’s really important for your equestrian (start-up) business?

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A little help from your friends

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One of the most challenging things about being an equestrian entrepreneur is that often you’re embarking on this exciting business journey alone. Which of course has many advantages when it comes to quick decision making, flexibility in working time and location and a sense of ownership among many others.

Sometimes though, you might need a little help from your friends. If you feel like you do, the don’t be afraid to ask! More likely than not, your friends will be very happy to give you some feedback, like to feel part of your entrepreneurial adventure and come up with some expertise and input that even you the google expert might not have been able to come up with.

What kind of help can you easily ask your friends? A few examples:

  • Growing your social media presence: don’t be ashamed to ask everyone in your network on both Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and wherever else you are showcasing your business to like, follow, comment and share. There is no obligation for them to do so, so if they don’t want to, they won’t, but there is no harm in asking… It’s a great way to get that slow-moving social media snowball rolling!
  • Financial / legal expertise: zero budget and want to do things right? There might be someone in your network that can help you with the basics or refer you to the right person fitting your needs and budget.
  • Testimonials and references: chances are, you will have worked with some of your friends in the past. Ask them for a referral relevant to your current business, or for them to test your products and provide feedback, which you can then showcase on your website or social media profile (#credibility)
  • Business opportunities: if you are starting any kind of equestrian business, it’s highly likely a lot of your friends are either interested in or already have a network in the business. Ask around: anyone looking to list new technical breeches? Anyone who would like to host an equestrian wellness clinic etc etc anything that will get you started will fuel your business and create momentum.
  • Monday motivation: ohhh it’s so hard to stick to your guns, keep going and plow through those inevitable entrepreneurial dips. Have a friend on speed dial whom you know will help you get your priorities straight, remind you that you’re doing the right thing and provide that much-needed #mondaymotivation.

 

Of course, for all other business and brand building topics, an extensive equestrian network and years of sales and marketing experience, you can always give The stylish equestrian consulting a call.

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Work, ride, sleep, repeat…

IMG_7412Starting an equestrian business on the side of a full-time job: is it really possible?

If you’ve read my previous post how best to focus on what’s important for your business, then adding a start-up business to an already full-time job while juggling horses, family and friends is not ideal, to say the least. But it can be done!

Many young entrepreneurs I speak to, are in fact, forced to “do it all” in order to self-fund their business as well as paying the rent and treating themselves to at least one cup of expensive coffee a week.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a business, and want to keep your day-job and a little time for your love of horses too, then here are my top tips:

Throw your business plan out of the window, or better yet, don’t write one

Unfortunately, business plans are an interesting theoretical exercise, but hardly ever reflect the reality of actually starting a business: change one metric (i.e. price or product) and you’ll need to start the whole thing again from scratch. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do some thorough research into the market that you are planning to enter, the consumer you are trying to reach and the (price) positioning of what you are going to offer, but this can be done in a much more practical, hands-on, faster way than going through the traditional time consuming ‘business plan’ motions. I call it ‘getting the brand fundamentals right’ and would be happy to help you with a simple template and a few coaching sessions to make sure you lay the base for future success.

 Is your Employer ok with it?

Are you starting a business that might cause a conflict of interest with your current employer? Best to browse through your contract again and have that conversation with your employer. Who knows, they might be incredibly supportive and allow you some flexibility to follow your dreams while still being able to perform at your day-job.

Partner up

A shared load is half the load, right? Why not look for a trusted business partner, who might be at liberty to spend a little bit more time on the day-to-day running of the business. Or, talk to a business coach on a regular basis. Someone that can help you structure your plans, prioritize what you should and should not be spending your time on, answer those burning business questions or simply help you connect to a broader network of people that can positively influence your fledgling business.

Have a little help from your friends

Although you should certainly trust your gut when it comes to decision making regarding your own business, it can’t hurt to get a second opinion or two. What most entrepreneurs say they miss the most about working alone, is being able to bounce an idea off of your colleagues and get some instant feedback. Use your family, friends, business coach or anyone else in your close network for this: you might be surprised how engaged they will be in your new business and the wide variety of types of ‘help’ that might be on offer within your network.

Passion is key

If you’re going to do it, then DO IT with all your heart. It’s going to be hard work and you’re going to have to love it, otherwise, there is a chance it might not work. If you do what you love, you’ll love what you do and probably be very good at it too!

Drop a bit o’ cash

Yep, you’re going to have to invest to get something in return… unfortunately that is just the way the business cookie crumbles. But, invest wisely! Your business coach can help you in the decision-making process on what you should or should not be spending your hard earned money on, or you can have a look at below list of basics that are worth the investment:

Do

  • Invest in a strong, easy to use URL and website
  • Invest in people, whether it’s a partner, an employee or a business coach
  • Invest time and money into a social media marketing strategy that brings your target consumer to your shop/brand and is measurable (i.e. help you learn what works and what doesn’t and adapt as you go along)
  • Invest in some legal advice, especially with regards to trademarking, brand establishment, product quality, safety, and shipping regulations

Don’t (or try to limit as much as possible)

  • Invest in costly overhead like rent or a fancy office (work from home, or Starbucks?)
  • Market research studies/reports – spend some quality time becoming google’s best friend instead
  • Service providers like accountants (easy to do yourself, plus loads of e-comm sites will have built-in reporting)

Become the master of Multi-tasking

I’m one of those people that can’t simply just watch TV, I’ll always be doing something else on the side. If this is you too, then use that time! Work on your next design while watching Netflix, do your finances on the train on the way to work, do your market research at your own barn or read up on the latest trends while your kid is having their Saturday morning karate lessons.

Act as if you’ve already made your first million

Yeah, you’ve heard it all before: the whole fake it until you make it principle. Well, I’m not saying you should fake it completely, but a little bit of confidence and envisioning of success goes a very long way. Never profile yourself as ‘just a start-up’ or ‘it’s just what I do on the side’, always already introduce yourself as an established flourishing business and let that passion for what you do shine through.

 

Get in touch to see what role we could play as your partner/business coach to help you kick off your business successfully.

 

Focus

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If you’ve been part of one of my coaching series, or free call sessions, then you must have heard me going on about the importance of focus at least more than once. It is so tempting for entrepreneurs, especially if you are working alone, to get caught up in the never-ending ‘to do’ list, trying to do everything at the same time and end up getting… well… not getting a whole lot done.

Here are some TOP TIPS to help you focus on what’s really important for your business:

If it doesn’t fit… don’t do it!

Of course, we all need to pay the bills, fix the bug in the website, call the plumber to get that leak fixed, scroll through the latest Instagram posts or work on the technical drawings of the latest design about to launch, but does it all have to be done right now at the same time? And, is what you’re doing really contributing to your long-term vision, or is it just fun / a distraction? Focus on what’s really going to drive your business, prioritize a few essential to do’s and go for it 100%.

When in doubt, ask yourself the question: what would my boss tell me to do right now?

“nerd hour” vs “play hour”

OK, so 100% focus and doing everything in line with your business vision sounds great, but we can’t be all-in all the time. Carve out two separate time slots in your busy agenda: one for “nerd hour”: the time in which your only priority is to get those bills paid, update the database, work on your long term marketing plan or sort out your office. Then, plan another one for “play hour”: the time in which you let your brain rest a bit, get creative, have a coffee in a new place, be inspired, go to a museum, anything that gets you to think about your business from a different perspective, and helps you relax and re-charge for another busy day of being a best-in-class entrepreneur.

Get it done, then time for fun

Getting ahead in business and staying motivated to reach your seemingly impossible goals can be really hard, you might find yourself losing focus of the really important things that will really drive your business…. especially if you are in the start-up phase. One thing that I’ve learned myself is that if I get the hard, annoying, difficult stuff out of the way first and then allow myself to work on the things I really love, I get a lot more done in the day and it feels like a little reward every time I do so. And, make sure you celebrate your little victories (website live, first product shipped, first 100 followers on Instagram…..) with your friends, loved ones and/or business coach.

Need help structuring your time, finding what’s the most important thing to focus on for your business or just start-up support in general?

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for a free of charge 30 MIN start-up call