Let me say that the horse business is very labor intensive and requires a lot of sacrifice to keep it going. If you plan on putting your children through college with the money you get for your horses, give that up right now. It takes a long time to gain buyer confidence which means lots of money up front for some time. In fact, plan on making some hard choices as far as your household budget goes. Feed, veterinary care, hoof care, dental, tack, training, registration fees, advertising, fuel, hauling vehicles/trailers, show fees, stud service, on and on. If you've already decided that the money is there to invest in the business, then here's my go to list of things to figure out before you get started:
1. Financing - initial investment. Don't just buy any mare to put in your band that fits your budget. Just because it has a womb, doesn't mean that it should be bred. Research, research, research, and be prepared to spend, spend, spend. I suggest going really slow to make sure this is really what you want to do. Folks can tell you how much work it is, but until you live it day in and day out, you can't feel it in full.
2. Time/expenses to get your starting stock trained. If you can do this yourself, you save big money.
3. Overall goal - what kind of horses do you envision putting on the market? (trail, jumping, ranch, cutting, reining, dressage, etc) What skill sets are your horses geared towards? This will determine which market you are in. Study your market and consider that color can be important in some breeds/markets, but skill and proper conformation to do the job is essential and should not be put secondary to color. Basing your business on a color will get you into trouble in the long run, so keep that in mind. It's a buyers market so you can add that in for your "flare" to stand out, but please don't make color what your plan revolves around.
4. Ongoing budget allowances to keep the welfare and care of your stock as top priority. $$$
5. Secondary services. If you can provide a service for fellow horse owners, then this will help you in the customer confidence category, will do some advertising for your barn, and will give you some extra money to put towards your program.
6. Keep tabs on the horse market continuously! That includes sale trends, sport interest, and equine laws. That means spending some serious time to monitor the horse industry as a whole and specifically in your specialty.
7. Form a good relationship with a local vet hospital for emergencies and a vet who will travel to your barn. Get an excellent farrier you can trust and line up your equine dentist beforehand. Have a backup plan in case your preferred people are not available when you need them.
8. Setup and maintain a horse health schedule with your professionals. If you can administer the vaccinations yourself, this will save you some money.
9. Know your market price and learn how to evaluate prospects. You won't get a winner every time. Be prepared to find good homes for those babies that aren't show quality and fairly adjust the price. Just because the breeding should have produced a high dollar horse, that doesn't mean it will. In some cases, you will lose money on a sale. That's just the truth. Keep track of your success percentage. Don't keep breeding if you aren't getting good results. It's not fair to the horses and the market is already flooded with the unwanted.
10. Learn how to properly evaluate potential breeding pairs for success. Conformation, skills, temperament, trainability, market value (not just current value, but the up and coming trend. Go with time tested horses, not fads which will be old news in a few years), breed popularity, client list ready to buy, etc.
11. Register for a freeze brand in your state to identify your horses or invest in micro-chipping. It can save a life.
12. Be realistic. Don't become attached to an idea regarding your business that needs to change.
Okay, well I could go on, but maybe this will give you an idea. Running a breeding operation is a lot of work and a ton of responsibility. It's not something to jump into, that's for sure.