Starting 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.
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:
- 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.