It absolutely floors me that many equestrian business owners, especially stable owners, do not have a business plan. Even if you’re not planning on raising money or going to the bank for any sort of financing, it is still a smart idea to have a document that can help give you a clear statement of your business’s mission or vision, benchmarks to help you keep track of performance, an honest assessment of your business’s strengths and weaknesses, and an opportunity to test out your idea to see if it holds a real promise of success.
Why your equestrian business needs a business plan.
Whether you are planning on starting up a new business or are already operating an existing one, here is a list of a few reasons why your equestrian business should have a business plan.
1.To map the future – when things are written down, you are more likely to follow them. You can plan out different future scenarios and how to deal with them, and set goals along with what resources you are going to need to achieve these goals and how you are going to acquire such resources. Use this opportunity to assess the feasibility of your idea. Is this actually going to make you money? Do people need this product or service?
2. To secure funding – no one is just going to throw money at you to help you get your business started. You need to give the bank, investors, etc. a reason to support you. Your business plan will let them know what you plan on doing with their investment, how that money will grow, and how new revenue will be generated.
3. To develop a game plan – Who are your customers? What do they want? Will they buy your product or service? What is your marketing plan going to be? How are you going to measure performance?
4. To better understand your competition – Are you the only one of your kind in the marketplace or is it saturated? Are your competitors in your immediate area or are they far enough out of your zone to not really be a threat. Is their business thriving or failing? Not only will this help you plan out how to stand out from the rest, it can also be an indicator as to whether there is a need for your product or service.
5. To uncover new opportunities – by putting everything down in writing, it forces you to really think and be creative. You may end up seeing your idea in a different light. Your business plan does not have to be a static document. By revisiting it regularly, you can see what is working or not working and come up with new ideas for marketing your service or product and running your business.
What could happen if you don’t have a business plan?
Going bankrupt because you don’t have a plan for how to make money.
Running out of money before you even open you doors for business because you haven’t accurately planned your start-up costs.
Losing customers because your quality or service falls short.
Falling short on your sales/income projection because you don’t really know who your customers are or what they want.
There are many great resources out there to help you craft a business plan. Equine Guelph also hosts a number of courses and their Equine Business Management certificate is ideal for anyone looking to start up a business or already running one. If you can only take one course, I highly recommend their Equine Business Management course which walks you through writing a business plan.