I would say people who have decided to work with horses are among the lucky few. Those who chose to follow their dreams.
You’ve heard the saying: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Yet why do you sometimes feel the contrary?
Perhaps you are yet to figure out how to make your equestrian centre lucrative. Even worse your passion starts to dwindle because of the lack of money you’re bringing in or the lack of time you have for yourself and your family.
As we approach the winter, when quite frankly working with horses is tough. Now is a great time to figure out what changes you need to make to get you through and out the other side even stronger.
1. Commit fully to your life purpose
Choosing your passion was not the safe career route to take. We’ve all heard the old adage from a well-meaning parent or friend “There’s no money in horses”.
Is this really true? Of course not! People are out there making it happen. These people are committed to making their dreams a reality. They banish any possibility of a backup plan whatsoever from their mind. They don’t say things like: “If it doesn’t work, I’ll just sell up and get a job.” Their secret is that they expect the best even when they don’t have all the answers as to how it’s going to happen.
You need to believe that you deserve success and to earn well, by doing something you love and by serving others using your gifts.
2. Remember why you’re doing it!
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your problems and worries. With negative thoughts running through your head, it’s hard to see why you ever started a riding school in the first place.
You may be stuck in the ‘doing everything’ mode from mucking out, teaching and the paperwork. Or your equestrian centre may have become so big, you’re now experiencing growing pains with your staff. Perhaps it’s been a while since you have taken a lesson, or booked in a client, so you feel your losing perspective of your customers.
By remembering your ‘why’ you can work out what’s unique about you. Then use it to reconnect with your customer. Is it a passion for helping more people connect with horses? Try sharing stories of how you started out riding. Or you do wish to pass on the legacy of your family knowledge to more people? Then show your customers what it was like to grow up in a family like yours by setting up a social club that replicates it!
3. Stay positive no matter what
When you do what you love, it comes across in a positive way. Enthusiasm is contagious and attracts other people who are passionate too. It will attract great clients, staff with a can do attitude and supportive partnerships with contractors.
Positive people always find the resilience when it gets tough, by tuning back to their big why. This helps them run through any red tape to get them to where they need to be. It’s also what they draw upon to do another day’s work when the elements are against them in the depths of winter.
Give yourself an honest review of the language you use, both to others and that little voice inside you who says who am I to do this? If you are hearing negativity then it’s time to adjust the quality of your mind-set.
Working with a business mentor or coach helps to quickly identify where you’re stuck, so you can immediately change your results. Just as a coach on the ground can see what a rider needs to adjust in order to improve their position.
Each time you’re challenged in business, just like progressing through the ranks in riding, limitations and self-doubt come up. You need to work through these and let them go in order to progress to the next level.
4. Don’t wait till you are ready
If you wait until you feel ready to do something, you will never do it. How do we know if we are ready for change anyway? We all learn best on the job, and to be successful you just need to be willing to do the things that others are not. The things that mean a big financial investment, are too hard, take too long, or are too uncertain.
If you want some reassurance to show the demand out there for equestrian sport, take a look at the Sport England Market Segmentation Tool. This will tell you how many people in your local area want to start riding. If you need some help with using this data download my funding guide here. There are so many opportunities right now for equestrian centres to capitalise on. What are you waiting for?
5. Identify what you value in life
Make sure your business is in line with your values. Do you want to have plenty of time for family and friends? Do you prefer working independently or as part of a bigger team? What appeals more to you: being responsible for the business or focusing more on the horses?
Once you have this clear you will be able to put in place the right framework and strategy. Look at your commitments, staff, contractors, roles and responsibilities. Piece them together to create the structure of your equestrian centre that helps you to live your ideal life.
6. Know your strengths and where you excel
Work doesn’t feel like work when you enjoy what you’re doing, and you see you’re making a positive difference! If teaching or interacting with customers gives you this feel good factor, then make it your focus.
When you think about your marketing, social media or accounts, does this feel you with dread? If these things are way out of your comfort zone and you avoid them like the plague, then this kind of energy is not going to drive your business forward. Find systems that make these areas more fun and automated. Try using Xero for your accounting or Stable Management Software to support your marketing.
If you can afford to outsource this work then do so. But you will need to keep your staff and contractors inspired to generate results. As your team grows you need to be able to share and communicate your vision to your team. It’s important at this stage to invest time developing your leadership skills. If this does not sit comfortably with you invest in a coach to support your own development. Leadership is the ultimate key to the growth of your equestrian centre.
7. Speak your truth
You can only speak your truth when you make a conscious effort to connect to your truest desires or inner voice. Without fear of judgment. For some people this comes naturally. Others need to build this muscle through meditation, journaling, being mentored or being surrounded by likeminded people.
It’s also good to remember those who judge you, be that family, friends or co-workers are scared of change. They are not brave enough to stand up for their own beliefs. They would rather keep themselves and you safe and stuck in the status quo! If you grow and change, it can make other people feel uncomfortable. Remember it’s not a reflection on you, rather on them.
8. If you say you’ll do it, do it
Doing what you love and feeling passionate only goes so far. Back up your passion with integrity. If you commit to something, follow it through. Protecting your accountability is a keystone to long term success.
Even when you are busy, get organised and don’t take on more than you can do in a day. You will get a better sense of achievement doing quality work without rushing. It’s a modern trend to be busy, but busy does not mean successful. Slowing down actually helps you achieve more. It allows you to build deeper relationships and leaves more space for new opportunities.
Always value your time and other peoples. But remember you can say no to things if they don’t help you to get closer to your vision.
9. See challenges as opportunities and make them fun
Most people interpret fears as obstacles, they will run away or procrastinate unable to make a decision. When you live your life on purpose, you develop the capacity to see fear as a sign- showing you what you need to do next.
Those who are successful put all their courage and energy into it. They also see life as a game that needs to be played and have fun doing it too!
So have a think how you can make your most challenging things fun. If you dread running your staff meetings, plan something fun for them to share together. Organise a team hack/brainstorm for ideas or team building gymkhana games. Taking photos of this also makes great content to share on social media too, so killing two birds so to speak. Give yourself a treat afterwards for organising it too!
10. Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Running a yard you have a heck of responsibility. You provide a community asset that many people enjoy, which is often your home too! The safety and welfare of both humans and equine whilst they are with you is also playing on your mind.
You will never keep everyone happy all of the time so you need to accept this is the case. Neither will you have all the answers. Keep your vibe high, never lower yourself to the customer or member of staff who will never be happy however much you try. You need to recognise when to close down a relationship before it affects the atmosphere within your centre.
Act with integrity and come from a place that communicates your values. Taking comfort that your acting from a place that sits right with you.
As always wishing you the best of success for your riding school!