Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Wisconsin, Between Madison & Milwaukee
My horse business thoughts (not so much horse career thoughts)
I have a slightly different perspective. My husband and I own our own business, but it is not in horses (although we do work with horses also - we are full time pet sitters). So I'm going to answer from a "maybe you want to work for yourself someday, with horses".
I'm nearing 40, and looked into horse careers a few times now. I made up detailed Excel spreadsheets that mapped out time, expenses, and income. No matter what I came up with, I just could barely break even. And the work hours were nuts. Even then I still really want to do it each time, but then I read about all the other hassles - and wow everyone has a long list of things like dealing with crazy people to fixing equipment - and I know it is just impossible.
Having said that, I have learned a lot about running a business. The main thing I learned is you can't dip in one toe and see how it goes. If decide to go the route of running your own business (or being an independent trainer), you should dive in head first. Interning first, or working for others would be good. But if you take the leap into working for yourself, leap. Tons of businesses go under because they didn't invest either enough time or enough money.
I went to college and got 2 degrees (computers and criminal justice) and did very well in school. Neither career worked for me. But I wouldn't give up the experience for anything in the world.
It gave me
- the confidence that I could do anything I want - including starting a business. Overcoming the challenges helped build my character.
- connections/networking with other people - ones that I carry with me today. I can seek advice, and it gave me a good reputation which helps with whatever business I do next.
- social skills. It taught me how to communicate with people on a more professional level. Like adults. With a good vocabulary. Especially helps since I'm a small women with a voice like a 12 year old.
- drive to complete things.
- a chance to grow up.
- something to put on my resume. My clients think much more highly of me because I have degrees - like I'm more trustworthy. Even though my studies had nothing to do with pet sitting.
- Accounting & math skills.
- Computer skills
- The opportunity to try out multiple fields, learn about different career options, and change my mind - alot.
But the absolute best program I finished was a Home Inspector course. I didn't feel qualified to be a home inspector (even though I passed the state test and was licensed) at the end. But it was 90% about how to market a business. And with that information I started a successful pet sitting business, and then we started a second business that sells information about starting a pet sitting business. What's in that information? Tons of marketing advice. Marketing is the key to ANY business, in my opinion....
So if you are serious about having your own business some day, I'd highly recommend going to school for at least 2 years and take classes or major in marketing, communication, and business. These will be awesome skills to have when you are ready to start a horse business. And if you finish a degree, you could even work at a different career first, save up some money and build up a great credit rating, and then get a good start on a horse business (investing in your own barn, horses, equipment, etc). You'll be able to dive in then, and financial concerns won't hold you back.
I'd also say don't give up on your dreams. When you have a job you love, it's like you aren't working at all.