So why do so many equipreneurs take on tasks that really aren’t their specialty? In a lot of cases, it’s because of perceived fiscal responsibility. You’ll save money (insists your inner penny-pincher) by doing your own books, writing your own contracts, handling your own marketing…. You can fill in the blanks. But does doing these jobs on your own really save you money? Maybe this week, maybe even this year; but if you’re focusing on the long term for your business, your most savvy option may be to create good relationships with a few great professionals now, and watch your business grow well into the future.
After all, you may be able to get away with pulling a loose shoe or doing a little bit of a trim on a chipped foot, but unless you’re a trained farrier, would you really want to be responsible for the soundness of your (and your clients’) horses? Most barn owners would say no, and hire a professional. The same with your vet – suturing wounds and diagnosing mysterious illnesses things we typically leave to the professionals. This is even more true on the business side of things, where we’re less likely to have knowledge of best practices.
The Big Three
Here are a few examples. First – hiring a good lawyer to handle your contracts. By a good lawyer, I mean one with equine experience who is up to date on the laws (and lawsuits) concerning the equine industry. While no one can prevent lawsuits from happening, having great contracts in place (whether boarding, training or release and hold harmless), can go a long way to define your responsibilities and make sure our clients are (literally) on the same page.
Second – A good (really good) accountant. Even with QuickBooks and FreshBooks and all the other equine-business software out there, hiring an accountant to at least do your taxes (and preferably to do your books at least quarterly) is an investment, rather than an expense. Miss one item on a tax return and it could cost you thousands, or bring close scrutiny from the IRS, neither of which would be my favorite activity.
Third – an Equine Insurance specialist. It pays to shop around on this. Not only do prices of policies vary widely from company to company, but you want to have a great relationship with your agent. Having the right policy is only so helpful if you can never get in touch with your agent, or you aren’t comfortable speaking with them.
While those three may be no-brainers to many equipreneurs, there’s another category that lots of us try to do on our own. Marketing.
SEO, Keywords and Blogs – Oh My!
Hiring good people to help with your marketing can make or break your business nearly as decisively as any of the “big three” listed above. Most horse folks are aware how important a website, advertising and social media can be to their business, but many of us simply don’t have the time to figure out how to build a website and optimize the various social platforms out there. Sure – we post pictures of the latest show to our Facebook page; we may even tweet about a summer camp we’re offering or a saddle sale at our tack shop – but is it really helping? Do riders, trainers, barn managers and tack shop owners really have the time to learn about SEO? And is it the best use of your time, or your money? Probably not, and here’s the reason – you’re a specialist in your own niche, and that’s where you should be spending your time and energy.
By taking the time away from your specialty, be it training racehorses or running a therapeutic riding program, to write web copy or write a blog post; you’re taking time away from what you love most and do best. You’re taking time from what makes your business uniquely yours, and spending it on a delegateable task.
Hiring professionals to design your website and logo are the first step. The next step is to hire a writer to manage what goes onto your website, your social media and blogs and even send out monthly email newsletters. Many writers (myself included) can tailor exactly which services you want into a package, and even build your website. Frequency of social media posts, the number of pages on your website, whether or not you want a blog – it’s all negotiable. Start with the basics and grow from there.
When you hire your writer, be sure they know something about the horse industry. Trying to explain the whole world of horses to someone who has never been involved may make it seem like you would have been better off doing it yourself. I’ve been involved with horses for over 40 years. I’ve shown, trained, taught, owned and run my own boarding and training barn, managed barns for other people. I get the horse business. I know what long days and hard work are. I know how excited you can be about a great stallion, an important win in the ring, or a student with Cerebral Palsy walking without braces for the first time because of your riding program. I’ve been there and lived all those and more. And now, I’m here to help you tell your story to your clients, present and future.
If you’re ready to see your business grow and would like to spend more time doing what you do best, give me a call at 434.381.0271 or email me at Penny@TheHorseWriter.com. I’ll be happy to set up a free consultation call so I can show you how to spend more time doing what you should be. The Horse Writer – Because you’d rather be riding than writing.