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Barn manager for a friend: good idea or recipe for disaster?

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  • Barn manager for a friend: good idea or recipe for disaster?

    In the horse world, when things seems to good to be true, they usually are. Before I head towards disaster, I would truly appreciate it if some of you who have more experience could give me a warning or a piece of advice.

    Here is the story. I have a friend, a widow in her fifties, who is rather well-off financially. I boarded my horses at her place for a year and did all the work, including caring for her own horses because she has a bad back. This was a fantastic situation and I loved it. Last yeard, my friend sold her farm because of the painful memories she had there, and because she felt the work was too hard, especially in the winter.

    Now, one year later, my friend is living in a cute little house in the city, and hates it: she says she is bored and misses our old arrangement. She came to me and said: "What if I bought a barn, and we could keep all our horses there? And have a couple of boarders?"

    Sounds great, right? But I am worried, because she does not know enough to manage a barn (she loves horses, but is a beginner), so this whole "little boarding barn" project would mostly fall to me. She said we could hire a man to help part-time with the heavier barn chores.

    I have no idea, at this point, how things would be (salary, how many boarders, how much work...). I am also worried because I won't be living on site (perhaps the owner will), and I work full time right now (sometimes during the day, sometimes at night).

    On the one hand, I feel like we should do it but keep it small, just us and our 4 horses (my friend would rather not, she wants the Real Barn). On the other hand, this could be my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give up my boring day job and work with the horses. But I am worried that my friend will discover this is too much work, and I will find myself jobless and bitter after a very short time.

    Help... how does this sounds to you? Has anyone done it, or something similar?

  • #2
    Hi...

    I, personally, have a rule... That is never rent, work, or live with a friend. It always ends up in a bad way. It may seem like an interesting idea, but I'd run far away from this. Especially if you want to stay friends with this person. Just my opinion...

    Comment


    • #3
      It sounds exciting! I'm all for following a dream. However, you need a business plan before you give up your job and its benefits to take on this project. This business plan needs to show how many horses you need to take on to pay you a salary (and be realistic about the salary) and pay a PT hand, and benefits.

      Otherwise you can only do this as a side thing and it sounds like your job already takes up quite a bit of your time. That will quickly get old. The other reason you need a business plan is that this is your friend and if there ever needed to be a formalized arrangement its when you're going into business with a friend. Otherwise things get muddled.

      Finally; a business plan (talking to an accountant or similar professional, a lawyer, etc) will help your friend determine if she's just dreaming or really has a goal in mind.

      JMO
      Paula
      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

      Comment


      • #4
        More often than not, business arrangements with friends end badly. I'm not a Negative Nelly, just a realist. I've seen it happen with horses and I've seen it happen in other non-horse related business arrangements.

        If you decide to pursue this opportunity, put expectations in writing first. That can sometimes help preserve the friendship if things take a turn for the worst.
        Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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        • #5
          I wouldn't risk a good day job for a friend that seemed fickle in their commitment level.

          Comment


          • #6
            Your friend is proposing a business relationship, and you should approach the discussion as you would approach any business proposition, including up front discussions of objectives, roles, budgets, et cetera. If you arrive at an arrangement that meets both your needs--including whatever assurances you require regarding obligations and compensation-- then you should proceed on a contractual basis. Consider involving a third party professional to help both of you work out a business plan and legal and financial agreements. If it's too difficult to have this kind of conversation with your friend, you shouldn't be considering a joint enterprise.

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            • #7
              IN A WORD ~ "NO"

              Not to be pessimistic but ~ in a word "NO"

              Are you happy now ? then Stay happy !
              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

              Comment


              • #8
                "You rarely regret doing something, but you often regret not."


                Someone very wise reminded me of the above a few days ago.

                Proceed, but with caution. Don't leave all your eggs in one basket.
                Last edited by Event4Life; Jun. 10, 2012, 01:27 PM. Reason: clarification
                "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

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                • #9
                  What jumps out at me - why does she want to board other people's horses?

                  If she is wealthy, well then why not buy a barn and keep hers and your horses there, only.

                  Bored as a reason? Ummm.

                  My jump to conclusion is that she is NOT so wealthy and is looking for an income stream. If that is so, it would change, quite a lot, my view of the situation. I would first be looking to see if it is possible to earn a profit. If not I would not go forward at all. Then I would look at if a profit can be made, how much work is required to make that profit, and how much do I need to please the clients etc to make it work. And would I get stuck footing the bills or be held financially responsible for anything.

                  That is my take on this, but it's just my opinion, I'm just a stranger on the Internet

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    In my personal experience, I have never seen this work out. In three separate occasions, no less.

                    You say she doesn't want her own barn "because she felt the work was too hard, especially in the winter."

                    and

                    "I boarded my horses at her place for a year and did all the work, including caring for her own horses because she has a bad back. "

                    OK, so what she is asking you to do is invest her money in a boarding barn that you will run and manage. Clearly she's not going to do much of the work, due to her physical problems, and the fact she doesn't like doing chores in winter.

                    Unless she gives you complete control, over everything, it will be nightmare the first time you disagree. Or, you give her complete control over the decisions, and just work for her. Some questions to ask are: when a financial or other choice must be made, who has the say in the final decision? If you like to feed one feed, and she another, who decides? If she wants to offer full care board, and you don't want to do the work, who makes the final decision? When the money gets tight, will she respect your judgement on what to spend it on? Or will she do silly things with her money, and then run the barn into bankruptcy?

                    It's all fun until the gloves come off, and people get upset, which you both will.

                    Sorry, but it's better to be friends with someone and go get an impartial investor or business partner. Your friendship isn't worth it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Kwill View Post
                      In my personal experience, I have never seen this work out. In three separate occasions, no less.

                      You say she doesn't want her own barn "because she felt the work was too hard, especially in the winter."

                      and

                      "I boarded my horses at her place for a year and did all the work, including caring for her own horses because she has a bad back. "

                      OK, so what she is asking you to do is invest her money in a boarding barn that you will run and manage. Clearly she's not going to do much of the work, due to her physical problems, and the fact she doesn't like doing chores in winter.

                      Unless she gives you complete control, over everything, it will be nightmare the first time you disagree. Or, you give her complete control over the decisions, and just work for her. Some questions to ask are: when a financial or other choice must be made, who has the say in the final decision? If you like to feed one feed, and she another, who decides? If she wants to offer full care board, and you don't want to do the work, who makes the final decision? When the money gets tight, will she respect your judgement on what to spend it on? Or will she do silly things with her money, and then run the barn into bankruptcy?

                      It's all fun until the gloves come off, and people get upset, which you both will.

                      Sorry, but it's better to be friends with someone and go get an impartial investor or business partner. Your friendship isn't worth it.
                      echo

                      keep your job and horse and your freind as a freind at bay don't get roped into something that if it all goes tits up then matey you lost half your bills, which could equals your home your and you life style

                      look at the moment your in work and can afford your horse and do want you want

                      you go into bisness with matey it might not take of as the economy rubbish at moment ,and your no doubt will liable for half the rent.bills

                      dont do it dont risk what you have now for a whime and pray mate xx

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To the OP: having your own farm is a lot of work as you realized before with this women. Seeing your enthusiasm though and your desire to be more involved with horses in general makes it tough to say no don't do it. I know I said something like that in an earlier post. If you are really keen on it, then I would agree with others that it is worth coming up with a business plan at the very least. See how your friend reacts to it and then see where the chips fall. Her reaction will tell you a lot about what you might be getting into. If it doesn't take too much time to come up with a plan, then I can't see that you'd be out much for at least having the discussion.

                        If you do decide to go forward, get everything in writing and have a clear plan that protects YOU so you don't have to give up your day job.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Can you get your day job or another back if this one goes bad?

                          Will you be able to handle losing her as a friend if things go bad?

                          Peril is right: You are entering a business relationship. You can be friends, too, but the business end must be covered first and last.

                          Perhaps you need to get clear on what you can give and what you want back in the way of a salary, time off, hired help and benefits. Even before you write up anything formal, you can have a friendly conversation with here that begins with "Do you realize how much this would cost...?"

                          If she flinches or, alternately, doesn't seem interested in those details, pay attention: She has told you how she will behave in this business venture as you guys go forward. If you don't like what you see, don't go farther into it.

                          This is really just a matter of investigation-- of her and of yourself.

                          Best of luck to you.
                          The armchair saddler
                          Politically Pro-Cat

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