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Covid-19 Slams the Barn Door Shut on Cash Flow For Horse Businesses

Filed under: Health & Training |     

By: Doug Emerson, The Profitable Horseman

Horse business owners everywhere are overwhelmed, confused, and angry with the state of the economy. With most horse businesses shut down for lessons, training, horse showing, horse sales, and just about everything else, the only revenue coming in is for horse boarding. And boarding income is in jeopardy as some customers will have difficulty making payments. These past weeks you know too well it’s difficult to control fear and maintain optimism for the future.

There is a bright spot with the Covid 19 shutdown! Instead of always working in your business, you’ve got time now you’ve never had before to work on your business.

Granted, the daily news paints a bleak, depressing economic picture. And it’s difficult to muster optimism every morning as you start your day with yesterday’s worries compounded with today’s new worry. But remember, at some point in the past, you controlled your fear and doubts and made a decision to be running your own horse business. Your self-confidence gave you the courage to compartmentalize fear of failure.

This is the same self confidence that allows you to start a young horse under saddle, to teach beginning students how to ride, and be responsible for the well-being of 24 boarded horses.

There is no shame in getting out of a marginally profitable or losing business. This applies to all businesses. Consider what has happened to brick and mortar retail stores as a result of online shopping. The convenience of online shopping, killer discounts and free delivery are obstacles the absolutely best of the best retailers cannot overcome.

Thankfully, your horse business model will not be replaced by online businesses. Horse owners will need places to board, students will need riding instruction, horses will need training, and sale horses will need to be matched up with sellers and buyers. Compared to other businesses, horse businesses are very difficult to scale or franchise.

Consider a grain, beef or dairy farmer who produces a commodity product for a market price. Commodity products are difficult to distinguish from one another. But each horse business has a personality that is its own uniqueness to offer. Fortunately, uniqueness allows differentiation from competitors. While horse businesses can be similar, none are identical largely due to the human element of the owner, employees and other customers.

As you start analyzing your business during this slow time, separate each enterprise individually: Boarding, lessons, training, horse sales, horse shows, summer camps, breeding, and all other enterprises.

Answer these questions:

  • What do I do? Describe each enterprise and its purpose.
  • Why do I do it? Explain what motivates you to offer this service.
  • How can I do it better? Elaborate on what will improve the enterprise.
  • Should I stop doing it? Discuss honestly, without consideration of profitability, what you strongly like about and strongly dislike about the enterprise.
  • If I stop, do I need to replace it? Being busy with many things doesn’t mean you’ll have a more successful business.

Renewed focus on the other parts of your horse business may make more sense than dabbling in new enterprises.

This is hard work. It’s even harder when you do it alone. Get a trusted friend to listen to your answers who can hold back judgment. Answer the five questions for all of your horse enterprises in person or over the phone with your trusted friend. You absolutely need to hear yourself speak as you gather your thoughts and put them in sentences. Clarity and direction for action will result.

Do it now.

Doug Emerson helps professional horsemen struggling with the business half of the horse business.

Visit his website: www.ProfitableHorseman.com for more articles like this one and to subscribe to his free electronic newsletter about being profitable in the horse business.

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