Equine Business Owners – How to start 2021

Everyone in the world experienced 2020 as one of the most challenging years in history.  Who would have thought 1 year ago that we would be weeks away from a world-wide pandemic that would force all of us to live our lives differently and operate our businesses and organizations in ways we had never thought of?  Nevertheless, COVID-19 did provide many people the permission to think outside of the box, get creative, and test those crazy ideas that we never were sure would work, but were our last option to try!

From experience comes knowledge, and knowledge can be powerful!  What to come in 2021 is still questionable, but we compiled a handful of tips that we hope help you make a plan for success.

  1. Find the positive every day!   Regardless to how hard life is, there are still those wonderful examples of the good around us!  Make a list each day of 3 positive things that happened before you go to bed.  They can be as simple as the fact you finally accomplished a barn task you have been putting off, you caught up with your business accounting, or you did the dishes on the same day you dirtied them!  Any accomplishment will help focus on the positive and make you feel like the day had success.
  2. Look back on 2020 and find what went well.  For some 2020 was one of the most profitable years of their business, for others it meant they had to take a leap of faith to keep their business alive.  When the year wrapped up, what were you most proud of?  Personally, I am proud of the fact that our Oregon Horse Council board was able to navigate the shut down and stay functioning, while adding more programming and benefits for our members!  Was it our most profitable year?  Not by a long shot!  But the growth we had, the pauses we had to take to think really hard about a plan, the creative ways we worked through things was invaluable!
  3. Review your finances.  This might be hard if you have been avoiding it.  But you need to know exactly where you stand.  Even if you are up to date on accounting, you still need to analyze where your money came from and where it went.  Some of these transactions will never happen again, but with COVID still a factor every day, some you need to plan for in 2021.  If you do not have a good accountant, now is the time to find one.  Business and personal taxes are going to be unique with all of the various factors and it may be worth the expense to have someone help you with them.
  4. Revise or write a Business Plan.  If you do not have a business plan, this is a great time to start!  Every community college has a Small Business Development Center who have sample plans and staff who can help you navigate this process for free.  Many are also offering online classes right now to help you adjust your path.  A business plan is crucial to keep yourself on track, it helps line out what you want to accomplish and how you will get it done.  However, with life changes, it is a living document that should be updated regularly.
  5. Find partnerships.  One of the most refreshing elements in 2020 was seeing people work together!  In order to survive, we can’t always work in a silo.  Partnerships with complimentary businesses can be a win-win and build up your clientele.  Partnering can also be in the form of trades – they build you a website and you give their daughter riding lessons.  However, I am not suggesting that you expect everyone to want to trade or provide their talents for free – but if there ever was a time to explore working with others, this is it!
  6. MARKET!!!!  Ever hear that old saying that you need to market when you don’t need customers (or something along that line).  This is when you look hard at how you reach clients.  The day of posting on your personal or business Facebook page and hoping they will come is ending – people are bombarded daily with marketing for everything in life.  This is where you can align yourself with respected marketing outlets that have a bigger reach than your circle.  Effective marketing is building relationships with customers/clients and brand awareness.  One print ad in a local newspaper may not pay off, but consistent messaging in the right places will with time.  Plus wouldn’t you rather have a waiting list of clients than to not have enough to pay your bills?  Understandably many may not have large amounts of funds to put into this, so look for the low-cost, large-reach options (i.e. Oregon Horse Council is only $100 per YEAR and we take monthly payments).

The Oregon Horse Council is proud to see so many of our equine businesses survive and thrive in the last year, we wish everyone in our industry the best as they navigate 2021.  If you need any suggestions on how to accomplish the above tips, we will gladly provide referrals and help as we can.

If you need to expand your business knowledge, watch for our new EquiBiz online learning portal coming in early Spring.  It will have equine businesses focused webinars and recordings to help you learn more about how you can grow and improve your business.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help you!

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