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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2012
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    21

    Default Starting a Business/Going Pro - Advice?

    So about a month ago, a bunch of my friends (now customers) encouraged me to go pro. And its something I've been tempted by for a long time, so I did - and at a great location in the middle of Dallas.

    But I need to start bringing in more clients, and to do so move locations (will quickly outgrow the facilities, and also barn is a dressage barn that is blocking me from filling any extra stalls with hunter/jumpers ). And I definitely need to be bringing in more $$ each month to do so. Any recommendations? Should I forgo starting my own business and do some time as an assistant trainer for someone else? I already have 12 years training horses, and about 6 teaching lessons.

    I know I'm lacking exposure at shows, as the last few years have been focused on college -- and therefore not spending money showing horses. I have had a few offers to show horses for people, but that would be at the local shows. Is it something to consider? I'm worried it'll mean I'll get stuck with a barn full of local showers. Its a great place to start a rider, don't get me wrong, but there are types that never want to progress past it. Or should I ride for another trainer to get that exposure, and put my business plans on hold?

    Thanks in advance!
    "If the world was a truly rational place, men would ride sidesaddle." - Rita Mae Brown.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 22, 2010
    Location
    Where they've got all Hell for a basement
    Posts
    1,154

    Default

    I'm a bit confused - how have you had teaching experience for 6 years but are just now going pro?

    I would take every opportunity you're given, as long as you're not being taken advantage of. Much like any other professional job, you're going to have to start somewhere. While I wish I could have my boss' boss' job, there's no way that 22 year old me one year out of college is anywhere qualified to do that. If you're good at what you do, you'll start attracting the higher level clients and you'll work your way up much like everyone else has.

    The only way I forsee you taking a shortcut to the top with high(er) profile clients is if you
    a) won a major national medal final
    b) have represented your country at the Nations Cup level
    c) have won a major hunter derby final

    Even then, you'll still have to work a bit to prove your capability to teach as well as you ride. Good luck, OP!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 8, 2012
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    21

    Default

    Back in the day, it was standard to have many years' worth of experience before going pro. Believe it or not, experience was valued over getting paid. Thus 6 years of teaching lessons before going pro. (by comparison, "horse college" is what kids do nowadays instead of spending time under an upper level professional)

    And okay, will do. Will try the locals route. And no - I did the big jumpers more so than the hunters, and never did get a GP catch ride in the jumpers. Thus me asking if I should take it back a notch and horse show first. Perhaps that's something I'll look into anyways though...
    "If the world was a truly rational place, men would ride sidesaddle." - Rita Mae Brown.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2001
    Location
    Finally...back in civilization, more or less
    Posts
    11,773

    Default

    I think you need to step back and really outline a business plan. Too many equine professionals just let their businesses sort of "evolve," instead of proactively managing them ... and a few years down the road they look around, maybe think things didn't work out the way they wanted, and wonder how they got there.

    Now, that doesn't mean you can necessarily just decide you only want A show clients with big jumpers and the $$$$ to spend the winter in FL from day one, of course. But if that is your goal, then every decision you make about your business has to be made in the context of that long term goal. Will taking this particular new client further that goal or not? Will moving your business to this new location make it more or less likely that you will achieve that in an acceptable timeframe? And so on.

    Most new business people have to do things at the start that they don't want or plan to do long term. That's perfectly fine as long as you recognize those things for what they are, and don't let them derail the long term plan. For instance, you may find that your cash flow needs require that you teach people who only aspire to show locally, or perhaps not show at all. That's OK - maybe down the road you will grow the business to the point where you can have an assistant to train those people, or take them to local shows when you are out on the road with the clients who are showing at the A's.

    Whatever the goal is... make sure you are mindful that your presentation is consistent with that long term strategy. For example, if you want to communicate to clients and potential customers that you are running a show program, make sure your visuals (website, flyers etc) reinforce that message. (For example, if you want to find clients interested in jumpers, equitation or hunters, I'd suggest replacing the current background pic on your website - which looks like a cross country photo - with a photo from the show ring.)

    Likewise, if you eventually want to run a program that caters to $$$ show clients, I wouldn't necessarily include a lot of information about discounts or consignment options in the most prominent sections of your website, either. That only encourages people to play, "let's make a deal," with you rather than paying whatever your rate schedule officially requires. That is NOT to say you can't offer those options when they are warranted - but don't lead with them, or you risk positioning yourself as the discount option.

    Good luck!
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May. 18, 2012
    Location
    Through the Looking Glass
    Posts
    201

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 0Chimera0 View Post
    Back in the day, it was standard to have many years' worth of experience before going pro. Believe it or not, experience was valued over getting paid. Thus 6 years of teaching lessons before going pro. (by comparison, "horse college" is what kids do nowadays instead of spending time under an upper level professional)
    But see, if you have been teaching for 6 years you *are* a pro, in that you no longer qualify as an amateur.

    Lucassb has some great advise. Is there another professional in the area who does the kind of business you aspire to be? If so it may be worth while to see if he or she is in need of an apprentice.

    Also - may want to invest in a proper website You are how you present yourself!
    "I'm not strange, weird, off, nor crazy. My reality is just different from yours."
    ~Lewis Carroll


    1 members found this post helpful.

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