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Taking Your Horse Business Temperature

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 24 August 2013
in Planning

file000329814834

In a recent blog, I focused on business planning as preventive medicine. Continuing along in the same vein, the next step is to evaluate your horse business regularly to keep your enterprise in tip-top shape. It’s like taking your horse’s temperature, so that you know what normal is and what cause for concern is.

 

As you’re well aware, every business has its issues and problems – it’s all part and parcel for an equipreneur. The key lies in how you respond to the issues. What do you do when a problem surfaces, or you notice that your business “has a temperature?” Do you go into denial, or do you tackle the problem head on? Successful equipreneurs become fond of problem solving, or of bringing the temperature back within a normal range. Diagnosing a horse’s health problem can be confusing and it’s not unusual to be led astray by focusing on a symptom rather than determining the cause. Your business is like that too. Sometimes no matter what you do to focus in on what you believe the problem to be, no relief is in sight and your horse business temperature remains elevated. This is a good time to take a step back, take a look at the big picture and broaden your evaluation.

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Tips for Choosing a Video Production Company, by Linda Walker

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 29 June 2013
in Marketing

Video is huge these days when it comes to online image and information sharing. If you are going to hire a production company to help broaden your horse business exposure or to market one of your products, there are lots to choose from. But they aren’t all what they might project themselves to be, and even some of the big dogs that may have once had a good reputation can sit on their laurels leaving you licking your wounds. To help navigate these waters, I’d like to introduce you to Linda Walker. Linda has been working with video technology since 1989 and has a background with horses as well. I asked her to share questions to ask when you are interviewing video production companies.

Linda-Walker-Media-Portrait

It is always my pleasure to share my video production expertise with those seeking information about video marketing and production. Here is a list of questions that one should ask a video production company before signing on the dotted line:

1) Does your company specialize in a particular industry? You wouldn't hire a video production company that primarily does manufacturing videos if your business is in the equestrian industry.

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Business Planning as Preventive Medicine

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Monday, 10 June 2013
in Planning

It’s no secret that I believe that business planning is an important tool for equine start-ups as well as entities already in existence. From a business perspective, participating in the business planning process is akin to a horse owner being sure that his/her horses have an annual health exam with preventative inoculations. Not having the shots doesn’t mean that the horse will get sick or will die, but the chances for either are increased. So it is with business planning as well - your practice may not fail, but the chance of failure, at worst, or lackluster performance, at best, is increased.

iwonder

As an equine entrepreneur taking the first steps of developing a business plan, you will need to consider four core areas: 1) Concept, 2) Customer, 3) Cash, and 4) Controls. When you begin to develop your plan you should also be considering who you would like to have as an advisory team. An advisory team consists of a banker, lawyer, accountant, and insurance agent at a minimum. Though it’s preferable that these team members have knowledge of the horse industry in general, and preferably your niche, it can be difficult to find. You may want to include peers that you can rely on for advice, mentorship, and to provide balance by having strengths in areas that you may be weak in. Your advisory team will be able to provide great insight as well as serve as a sounding board for your ideas and goals as you make your way through the planning process and as your horse venture grows.

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Weeds, Wildflowers and Wordle

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 04 May 2013
in Marketing

What is a weed?  I have heard it said that there are sixty definitions.  For me, a weed is a plant out of place.  ~Donald Culross Peattie

May all your weeds be wildflowers.  ~Author Unknown

At this time of year the dandelions take over my yard. I let them. I love the vibrant yellow that they bring, followed by the glorious puff balls that have earned them the nickname of “Wish Flower.” And so dandelions beg the question: weed or wildflower? It all depends on your perspective.

Just like weeds and wildflowers, problems can also be viewed from another perspective. A colleague recently commented that problems are unsolved opportunities. The ability to step into other shoes and look through others eyes is a skill that often provides a business owner with great insight and problem solving that they require. When other shoes and other eyes don’t seem to come easily, Wordle may provide just the shift you are looking for.

Wordle can be found at www.wordle.net. It’s a fun and creative way to look at words and to create word clouds. You provide the words, push the create button, and the cloud that is created highlights words that appear most frequently. Here’s a sample cloud using some of the text from my website.

Wordle4 

Using Wordle with your marketing may provide you insight you won’t gain anywhere else. Use your text from your flyers and brochures– what do you see? How about text from your website? Need another way to view your professional portfolio, bio or resume? Wordle may show you that your emphasis is not in the areas that you intend. Give it a try – you might just turn dandelions into wish flowers!

A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.  ~Doug Larson

But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else.  In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit.  Weeds are people's idea, not nature's.  ~Author Unknown

 

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Build a Dashboard for Your Horse Business

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 16 April 2013
in Planning

When I first decided to write on this topic, I put a post out to my social media channels and groups. The question I posed was: What would you include on your horse business dashboard? Then the response came: What’s a dashboard? So I knew that this was a timely topic for the horse industry. Dashboards are used by many other businesses in other sectors to monitor their business throughout the year. Dashboards strive for simplicity of presentation of data related to your Key Performance Indicators, or KPI. Key Performance Indicators include areas such as: Marketing, Sales, Financials, and Operations. The data is often presented as trend lines, charts, and other visuals. This is how they came to be known as dashboards – when driving your car your dashboard provides at-a-glance insight into critical areas of the car’s operation. And so it is with your horse business dashboard also.

 

excel dashboard pro 

I consider the development and use of a dashboard as a best practice because it really helps you to keep your finger on the pulse of your business. I’ve seen several references during the months of June and July that it’s time to check on your business now, half way through the year. Granted, this is a good time to check on your business again, and not leave it to an annual checkup. A better practice is to monitor it monthly however, and the then after watching the changes from month to month, take a step back at the six month mark and look strategically and objectively at what all the monthly incremental changes might mean.

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Set Up and Maintain Your Own Website

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 07 March 2013
in Affiliates

I’d love to just do a quick review of website history, at least as far as my experience goes. In the early and mid 1990’s I remember being fascinated with the internet and what you could find there. And those sure were the early days! Most people didn’t even have internet access and I actually looked up the stats on this. According to the Pew Internet "Digital Differences" article, in 1995 only about one in 10 adults in the U.S. was going online. As of August 2011, the U.S. internet population included 78% of adults and 95% of teenagers.

I remember wanting a website and realizing that it was way beyond reach cost-wise. Large corporations could afford a website build; the cost was in the tens of thousands then. I could afford to get listed on directories and have a webpage set up that was simply a static representation, or akin to a simple brochure. But I WAS ON THE INTERNET! And when cost-effective choices for having a website became available I jumped into the fray.

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Today’s Youth are Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 09 February 2013
in Planning

A couple years ago I was doing horse business presentations at the Everything Equine Expo in Vermont. Most of the people that attended the presentations were horse business owners looking for a new way to look at their horse business and marketing. I asked everyone to introduce themselves and say what they had for a horse business. As the introductions were being made, I was pleasantly surprised to find a young woman, Alexandra Glover (aka Alex), attending that didn’t have a horse business yet and plans to when she has finished college. She was interested in the presentation topic which focused on identifying and attracting your target market because she will be studying business marketing at college. I was fascinated to hear her say that she is going to start college this fall – that it had taken her awhile to figure out what she wanted to take in college. Turns out she is 18 years old and will be attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA this fall. I’d like to share Alex’s story here because she represents the future of the horse industry and she is a shining example. Her ability to focus on clear goals, present herself professionally, and look for ways around obstacles will stand her in good stead in any endeavor – and they are key qualities that entrepreneurs (or should I say equipreneur) embody.

Oklahoma Hollyhock and Alex

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The Anatomy and Physiology of a Proposal

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Monday, 21 January 2013
in Marketing

Does your 2013 business strategy include outreach to offer your services at new locations or in conjunction with a new business colleague? If so, how do you approach that individual or business? The horse industry has long been casual when it comes to business practices. Word-of-mouth for marketing, and your word and a handshake for contracting are typical procedures. With this slow moving economy, it may be time to step up your game. One way to do that is to write proposals for your new ideas and use them as the vehicle to present your idea.

Preparing a proposal for new business ideas will leave a professional feeling with those that you are looking to work with. Proposals don't need to be long, complex documents. They do need to provide an overview of the project, as well as key details related to what you'll deliver, when, additional resources required, cost, and next steps. You can find an outline and synopsis of how to write a proposal here.

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Our Kingdom Is The Horse

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 12 January 2013
in Reflections & Serendipity

Ahhhhhh…what is it about horses and women? Horses provide enrichment to our lives that nothing else can match. Yet, if our enchantment with these magnificent animals goes overboard, our passion can seemingly turn into a fatal attraction. Whether you are a rider or horse owner, you have probably faced the dilemma of how to fit horses into your life. If you work with horses as a career, you have probably tried to figure out more than once how to fit a life into your horses. The following strategies can help.

 

Sit down and make a list of what’s important to you. This includes work, family, friends, horses, hobbies, and community service or volunteer time. Maybe your list doesn’t have all these items on it, maybe it has more. You have now identified your priorities. Your priorities don’t need to be put in a particular order, just know what they are. Priorities are something we all learn to juggle. Picture them as a revolving wheel, or perhaps a merry-go-round. Any given day can bring new circumstances, so the merry-go-round pony you chose today may give way to choosing a new one tomorrow. What was most important today can cycle out as a new day dawns. Its not gone or thrown out, and it will cycle back. The merry-go-round doesn’t get lopsided if all the ponies get their ride.

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A Witch or A Watch…A Strategic Plan or a Business Plan or…

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 20 December 2012
in Planning

Do you remember the game "This is a witch, this is a watch" from when you were a kid? Everyone sits in a circle and you passes one object one direction and the other object the other direction, everyone repeating the "This is a witch - a what - a witch" mantra (or watch depending on where you sat in the circle). Then when one person receives both objects at the same time and the cross-over begins....well....pandemonium reigns. This same reaction frequently occurs when horse business owners grapple with which tool might best suit their current situation: strategic plan, business plan, feasibility study, or annual operations plans. I get a deer-in-the-headlights look when I suggest one tool as compared to another. Is it a witch or a watch; a strategic plan or a business plan?

Planning Compared

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Is Your Horse Business on Google Places?

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 02 December 2012
in Marketing

My sister drove into my yard recently exclaiming, “Do you know that Blue Ribbon Consulting comes up on Google maps?” I chuckled and said, “Well, yes, I submitted my information to Google places.” In this day and age as more and more and more people are using their GPS and smart phones to find places, it makes good sense to be sure your horse business can be found here.

Google Places 2 

There’s so many great ways to increase your business exposure that are free. Of course, when I say free I mean that you don’t have to pay for them, but you will have to devote some time instead. As you begin to explore getting set up on Google places, you may discover that your horse business is in fact already there. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be sure the information is representing your business correctly. If it’s not already there, you are missing a chance at an online yellow pages of sorts. Plus, it helps to drive more traffic to your website. You can create coupons for those that find you this way, which provides you with some information about where your prospects and business is coming from. And on top of that, you can upload photos and video.

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Why Do You Need A Resume, by Marcia Hancock, The Job Search Advisor

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 08 September 2012
in Guest Blogger

I'm pleased to introduce you to Marcia Hancock, The Job Search Advisor. It's much easier not to prepare a resume, but you can miss out on many opportunities if you don't have one put together, and one that's recent. Marcia gives great tips why it's important to take careful time in preparing a resume and shares useful techniques for creating it. Welcome Marcia!

A Story! Is This You?

Writing a resume is one of the least favorite yet necessary tasks for horse industry professionals. A friend and equestrian recently shared with me ‘I know I need to write my resume, bring it current, but I just dread doing this! I notice many projects that interest me, but because a current resume is required to be considered, I just do not apply!’

So many missed opportunities!

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Get Paid More for Your Horse Knowledge by Writing, By Nanette Levin

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 17 June 2012
in Guest Blogger

This is an exciting topic that Nanette Levin shares with us! When you're looking for ways to generate more revenue from your area of expertise, sharing what you know can be a great way to accomplish that. You'll also enjoy listening to our upcoming audio library addition that discusses other aspects of this topic.

Today there are so many ways you can get paid to write about your passion – even if you don’t have a portfolio – it’s foolish for any owner of an equine-related business to disregard the possibilities and avenues to access these opportunities.

Few would argue the point that being a published author lends credibility. I won’t comment on the quality of some of what’s being published today, but suspect my critical eye as a longtime paid freelance writer is not typical of most readers. Regardless, if you’re in the equine industry and aren’t capitalizing on the power of the printed (or electronically delivered) word to help share your vision, reach more prospects and attain a broader reach, you’re missing out on the chance for vast reach and additional revenue.

There are so many ways you can get paid to write, but, for the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on what you can do with Amazon via their Kindle program.

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Integrate Stable Management and Customer Service with Horse Farm Software, by Marie Taulbee

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 24 May 2012
in Resources

Marie Taulbee has spent a lot of time and energy on developing LaRaedo. LaRaedo is horse farm management software that makes it easier to stay in touch with your clients, and easier for your clients to find out what's going on with their horse. She shares some insight into the software with us. Thanks Marie!

laraedo logo

What happens at your barn when you take a vacation (if you get to take a vacation that is)?  Or heaven forbid, what if you were to get laid up for a while and someone else had to jump in and take over?  Would they know what to do and where to go to find out who does what, when and where?   

What if all you had to do is give them access to an online account that would provide information about each horse, their maintenance history, owner contact information and every other detail?  Hey, what if they could even find out whose invoices were paid, who still owed, and how to send a reminder?  And what if they could just stroll on over to the calendar menu to see who was giving lessons, when, and who had signed up?   

Guess what - it’s time to celebrate! There is such a tool and it’s called LaRaedo.  LaRaedo is web-based horse farm management software that allows you to track expenses, send invoices, manage your horse records, provide regular equine progress reports to your clients, and more. It also gives your clients an easy way to track the progress of their horse, at any time, 24/7.

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Meet Melissa Hamlett, Unbridled Potential LLC

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 01 April 2012
in Penniless Philanthropy

FFL UnbridledPotential Revised2I’d like to introduce you to Melissa Hamlett. I’ve been working with her in a coaching capacity since February as part of my Penniless Philanthropy program. Melissa has tons of energy and a very clear vision of what she wants to accomplish. She also has identified key start-up milestones to take her where she wants to go to get her business off the ground.

Melissa formed Unbridled Potential, LLC in December 2011. She has been a clinical social worker for over ten years in her community, has had horses all her life, and has been volunteering for close to two years at the closest therapeutic riding program. Even at that, it is over an hour away! Incredibly, she has been working on building her own business for the past 6 years. Melissa shares, “I’ve been doing this slowly, researching the field, networking with others, working with a NH Small Business Development consultant, among other things. I am a member of PATH International and an instructor in training. My program will be the first PATH International center in northern New Hampshire.”

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The Business of Horses and Art, by Jeanne Maguire Thieme

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Friday, 24 February 2012
in Guest Blogger

 

I'd like to introduce you all to Jeanne Maguire Thieme. She has a horse-related business - she is an artist that does beautiful work! Artists deal with same general marketing questions that any horse business does: How do I reach my market? Who are they? and more....You'll see that Jeanne is looking for creative approaches to answer these questions. Welcome Jeanne, thanks for the use of your beautiful artwork on my website and for sharing your story!

 

In 2nd grade I drew a horse galloping in an open field. The leg wasn’t right. I crumpled it and put it in the wastebasket in front of the classroom. I watched 2 students rush to the basket, pull out my wrinkled drawing, bring it back to their desks,spread it out to gently smooth out the creases, and then carefully flatten it in a book to take it home with them. I watched in astonishment and at that moment realized that I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to draw horses. My classmates treasured my work and that felt good. I drew some more, and some more, I painted some more and some more and......

connection

Connection

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Inventing Your Horse Career

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 18 December 2011
in Resources

There are many interesting and unique careers to be found in the horse industry. Some we traditionally think of, like trainers, instructors and horse stable owners. Yet, there are countless other career paths with each individual bringing their own unique perspective to the industry and the work. I’ve walked both paths and couldn’t be any happier than doing work in this industry.

 My first career in the industry had its roots when I was an Animal Science student at the University of NH many years ago, I discovered eventing. Goodness! I’d never seen anything as exciting as that before and I wanted to do it. I had a 3 year old Morgan stud colt that was my high school graduation present and had taken to college with me. He wasn’t really suited to the sport so I was fortunate to get a small taste of the sport using the University’s school horses. When I graduated I worked in the hospitality industry as a restaurant manager until I got my student loans paid back. Then I couldn’t help myself – I left the restaurant position to become a riding instructor. Less money, more happiness. Less than two years later I was leasing my own facility, running my own business, and pursuing eventing with a passion.

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Resource List for Your Horse Business or Nonprofit

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 29 November 2011
in Resources

We’re coming into the time of year that allows us all the time to step back and look at our organization from a strategic point of view. We’ll be looking at our year’s end financial data soon, giving deeper thought how to tweak our programs for greater client satisfaction and increased sales, and evaluating our marketing for ways to bring more traffic through our doors. With that in mind, I wanted to provide a list of resources related to these areas.

 file0001729350380

FreeMind http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

This is a great tool the lets you capture and organize all those great ideas and even crazy ideas. It beats outlining your projects and really provides a much more creative space to identify tasks, costs, issues, resources, allies, competitors, next steps and more. This is a tool I use to look at the year ahead as well as develop individual projects.

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Ridden Hard and Put Away Wet, by Patti Bartsch, M.A., Ph.D

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 04 October 2011
in Guest Blogger

I'd like you to meet Patti Bartsch, Ph.D, a colleague and friend of mine. She has developed unique resources that help you to be the best you possible, for yourself, your horse and your horse business. Patti is the owner of Naturally Unbridled Holistic Life & Wellness Coaching for Equestrians. She is the author of two books including “7 Steps to a Naturally Unbridled Life” and “100 Days, 100 Ways to a Happier Healthier Life”. Dr. Bartsch also created a home-study program called “6 Weeks to Show Ring Success” where equestrians, regardless of whether or not they compete, can learn to become balanced and as healthy as a horse! She works with clients via telephone, Skype, and email. Visit her website at www.NaturallyUnbridled.com to take her free quiz and to download the “Heal Naturally” chapter from her latest book.

sweaty horse1

 

“Ridden hard and put away wet!” This timeless expression brings to mind an image of a horse that worked rigorously and was not properly cared for. You can envision the animal galloping along, doing her job, breathing heavily and working into a lather; then not getting the care that she needs and deserves: hair ruffled, breathing hard, exhausted. You know, kind of like many Equestrians who work hard to take care of their horses, their families, their homes, and their work and when it comes to caring for themselves… well, they’re “put away wet”.

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New Affiliates Offer Great Resources

Posted by Lisa Derby Oden
Lisa Derby Oden
I've been fortunate to be involved with horses throughout my life... so far that
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 01 October 2011
in Affiliates

I want to share a couple of affiliate links with you. First, rest easy, I will never become an affiliate for someone that I don't know. My affiliates will always be very knowledgeable professionals with great integrity. They will also be down-to-earth and accessible. And affiliates are not the reason I exist, they make being here better. With that said, I do have two that I'd like to share with you that I've come to know over the last couple years.

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