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.

 

Influencer Marketing: The importance of finding the right story teller

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Influencer marketing is THE most time and cost efficient way to get your brand seen and known fast with a large target audience. Combine this with the ever growing need for brands to tell a story and be able create a personal, emotional connection with the target audience… and you have a bit of a marketing paradox.

There is quite a big risk that your brand story might get lost in the viral storm created by the latest Instagram star, but it is the best way to get to the brand out there, right? So now what?

Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure your brand story isn’t lost the viral storm:

1.         Choosing a person by follower/social reach alone is not always the best decision making criteria (the follower numbers are not always true…), rather look for a few smaller accounts, with very high engagement that really fit with your brand identity.

2.         The influencer of choice should be able to co-creatively design original content with the brand, not just use a product for a selfie. This will ensure more personal involvement, engagement and endorsement of the brand and it’s story.

3.         Do a quick intent check: Does the influencer of choice want to truly represent the brand or is it just an opportunity to boost their personal image/numbers/fame?

4.         When choosing your influencer strategy, always ask yourself  “What personal value does my target customer get from the created content other than a pretty image to look at?” i.e.  Is the content a one-off cute pic or can it be used for a future local campaigns or online activity?

6.         When choosing your favourite influencer, did you provide them with a briefing? Is your brand story clear enough for them to ensure they are telling the same story?

Need help getting your brand story across? Need help identifying the right partners for your brand?

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Post content inspired by Linkedin articles from Cornelius McGrath: 2017 The year to tell your story and Valerie Ox: This is why most influencer marketing campaigns fail – and how a bad strategy destroys authentic storytelling

 

Boosting your brand visibility with targeted social media collaborations

4 seasons in one day

You want a very select group of consumers to get to know your brand, but you’re not sure how to go about it?

Why not work with a select group of social media influencers who can not only showcase your brand to an extremely targeted audience, but also endorse your products with genuine support and product reviews for increased credibility.

A good example is thestylishequestrian.com: a platform that showcases the latest trends and provides daily inspiration for the ultimate street to stable lifestyle. Working with the stylish equestrian has brought small businesses new distribution opportunities and large brands the targeted visibility they require for growing their brand with the right audience.

The stylish equestrian provides tailored visibility packages that include visibility in the signature sets on multiple social media platforms, but also brand ambassador programs that include product reviews, Instagram endorsement to over 31K followers and the option to run give-away competitions.

Want to work with The stylish equestrian or need some advice on how best to increase your brand visibility?

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Digital detox

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 07.38.40.pngWhen vacationing in the Philippines, our phones decided to go for a surprise swim in the South China Sea. Imagine the shock and horror of someone who lives off of being a social media influencer and consultant: losing your phone is pretty much like having your right arm chopped off.

 

Well, actually, that’s how it felt the first 12 hours, but then, slowly, it gave me time to have a little think about how much posting is really needed and made me realise that checking the instagram likes and website stats every 20 minutes might not be necessary, especially not when vacationing on a magical Island like Palawan.

Of course I could have used all kinds of pre-scheduling apps like Hootesuite or solve Instagram posting problems with a solution from your pc to Instagram like Gramblr, but me being a bit of a spontaneous, spur of the moment, what’s good right now kind of poster, didn’t think I would need these during our holiday.

So, my forced small scale digital detox got me thinking: how much online activity is really needed and how much is too much? Ironically, I found myself discussing exactly this query earlier this week with a couple just starting their Stand Up Paddle Board business in Ibiza (check’m out here – a must do when on the island!). Well, it depends…. are you intending to become a social media influencer and want to get noticed by brands, then probably there really is no limit to how much you post, as long as you retain the quality over quantity rule. Are you a small business and want to attract customers, then relatively slow is probably the way to go, focusing more on generating website traffic and loyal followers, but even here, quality over quantity is the golden rule.

Island vacationing has given me ample examples of when the digital addiction might be taking the upper hand. A few 20 something girls for example, were with us on a magnificent tour of the Bacuit archipelago and spent most of their time checking their selfies and their likes in insta: seems like a bit of a pity to not enjoy the magical location and moment a bit more. Hey, I was also guilty of a selfie or two and posted a quick update to my Instagram stories (with a back-up phone), but that was it, for most of the time we just enjoyed the view.

Over dinner we encountered a few more 20 something ladies taking pictures of their food. Everyone does it, and if you’re writing a foodie or travel blog, then by all means go ahead. But, if like in this case, you’d like to gain some likes and followers on your social media profiles, maybe a pic of a plain pasta in the wonderful Pilipino Islands is not what’s going to boost it for you.

Quality over quantity, my golden rule. Maybe taking this forced mini digital detox has helped me realise this even more. Taking a few days off (you are on holiday after all) isn’t really a a bad thing. It gives you time to relax, reflect, regroup and come back more focussed and energised.

Would you like to know more about how to find your ideal quality over quantity ratio for your business or social media profile or how to schedule posts so you can enjoy a little digital detox yourself?

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How to get more likes on Instagram – equestrian style…

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 17.12.26.pngData tells us that colorful pics, particularly those predominantly washed in blue, get the most likes on Instagram (blue, really?). But it takes more than a fast filter to attract, and engage, a dedicated following on instagram.

I’ve done some searching to find the magic formula… which unfortunately doesn’t exist. I did however come across some top tips from the fashion industry and have translated them into equestrian relevant instagramming tips and tricks.

 

1. Be you

If you want to build a real presence on Instagram, you must first and foremost “be you” or keep it real (read more on that here….), and although you should keep your followers engaged with a regular flow of relevant and curated content, there should not be an overdose of you. Most successful instagrammers and bloggers mix it up with a few personal posts and other original content. So maybe mix up the horse selfies or Eskadron sets with a spontaneous snap or an impression of your beautiful barn surroundings.

2. Find your groove

Finding your groove applies to how you pace your posting to the general ‘theme’ of your stream. Being consistent helps followers to get a sense of who you are and really get connected to your point of view. It took me over a year to find my groove, but paying close attention to what your followers want to see, is worth the time spent and the homework done. Find what they love and suits you best and stick with it. This takes time and there will always be a pic with a little less engagement, but keep going. Do you have great shots of you and your horse at competition, or are you best at artistic seat shots, and do your followers respond to these? Keep’m coming!

3. Connect

Want to gain engagement fast without compromising your account by using one of the many like-follow bots out there? Connect! Connect with accounts you love and the ones with followers that you think would be a great fit for your account. Find a creative way to collaborate (don’t just ask for a shoutout, there needs to be a benefit for both of you!) and be active on their accounts. On my own account (@the_stylish_equestrian currently at 28.4K followers) a major growth boost has come from my collaborations with larger accounts in the form of special edition blog posts. This not only got me noticed, but also landed me some great new Instagram friends.

Would you like an objective editing eye to have a look at your Instagram and help you find your groove?

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