The business plan for horse training is critical to success because this is an enterprise usually requiring a significant financial investment in stock, land, and equipment. It is also a fairly risky enterprise because it can be difficult to generate enough income to cover the cost of caring for the animals and the property, and to pay personnel. Owners find it nearly impossible to operate this kind of organization alone because it is a 24-hour operation.
Since people who start this kind of enterprise often do so mostly because they love horses, they jump feet first into startup. They believe that knowing how to care for and ride the animals is all that is necessary for success. Failing to write a marketing strategy usually results in important elements being skipped, like preparing client contract forms and determining the right kind of staff who can work well with people as well as animals. The strategy forces the entrepreneur to think through each factor that is critical for success, and what it will take to still be operating five years from now and longer.
The significant financial investment requirement is due to a number of factors. The animal trainer needs enough land to support an equestrian facility and turnout pastures for the horses. The equestrian facility itself is likely to be large and include stables for boarding, a schooling area, a lighted arena, equipment storage building, and housing for the owner and/or staff. In addition, it is usually necessary to acquire animal stock, with the number and breed type depending on the services offered in the marketplace. The operation needs staff too, including trainers and office staff. For example, who will do the marketing and selling? Wise owners also line up professionals services with an accountant, attorney and others providing consulting services.
Some trainers work as independent contractors and train horses at other stables or at the facilities of private owners. In that case, the owner can operate without actually owning an equestrian facility. This model requires less startup funding and is sometimes a good way to start a new enterprise without investing too heavily in stock, land, and equipment.
Thoroughness is Important
The development of an operating plan for horse tuition helps the company owner think through the education enterprise from mission to financial goals, and long-term sustainability. This is a complex enterprise in that there is a need for staff with relevant experience who also understand the importance of facilities care and land management. The equestrian facility must be designed to accommodate the horse services that will be routinely provided. For example, will the facility only provide riding instructions or will it board the animals? If it will offer boarding services, someone must be on-site 24-hours a day to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals at all times. In that case, there must be on-site living quarters for the caretaker. Preparing to Succeed Unless the entrepreneur is converting personally owned property or property owned by family, there is a good chance investors are needed to purchase property, buildings, and equipment. Most operations need a significant amount of equipment, including farming equipment, mowers, ATVs for traveling property, flatbed trailer, animal trailers, trucks, and maintenance equipment.
Investors can play a critical role in ensuring there is enough startup capital and reserve capital for at least the first year of operation, and the business plan for horse education is the document that gets their attention. A shortage of cash is one of the main reasons for failure within five years after startup. Potential bank, angel investors, or equity funders will look for information like the following:
- How many horses are boarded and how many can be trained at a single time? That will determine the size of the stable and instruction area.
- What type of lessons are offered – English riding, Western riding, rodeo riding, show riding, or a variety?
- Are lessons mostly focused on pleasure riding or event riding?
- What types of onsite demonstration or competitive events will be offered on a yearly basis? Use these types of events in marketing materials to demonstrate expertise.
- What is the fee schedule for all services?
- What is the source of feed? Are there reliable suppliers?
- What is the competitions competition and how will the new equestrian facility compete, i.e. expertise, kind and level of services, price, meeting increased service demand in geographical area, facilities features, etc.?
- What type of marketing strategies will be used, including print advertising, public speaking engagements, website, online advertising, competitions, special events, and so on?
- What are the type and amount of expenses, including mortgage, animal feed, veterinarian services, facilities and land maintenance, tack, etc.?
- What is the projected profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flows for 3-5 years?
- What are the capital requirements for purchase of land and purchase or construction of facilities, and how the debt will be serviced/
Full Service Enterprise
Some owners decide to also sell horse tack and supplies. If there will be a store operation, it is important to take it seriously to avoid tying up money in expensive items that sit unsold on shelves. The owner of a well-run tack store considers:
- Having adequate display space
- The type of tack that will be sold such as type and brands of saddles and blankets
- Developing an inventory schedule for a variety of horse supplies
- Finding suppliers who can maintain stock supplies without interruption
- Deciding whether to sell online in addition to selling in the store
- The strategies for marketing the sale of tack and supplies
Operations that start marketing need to ensure they can meet customer orders. Should volume orders begin to flow, it is important to be able to fill them in an efficient manner.
Other Ideas for Revenue Generation
Besides animal instruction and selling tack and suppliers, stable owners have other options for increasing revenue. For example, some owners buy and sell horses, in addition to instructing riders. In that case it is important to identify the breeds and sources, and where they will be sold.
Another option is to train the animals, as well as riders, for recreational riding or for participation in equestrian events. To earn extra money, there are also trainers who travel and personally compete in events for money, and they use the experiences to enhance marketing. Being professionally recognized is valuable to the marketing efforts. Customers must put a certain amount of trust in trainers and like knowing the trainer has been recognized by others as professional and competent.
It is important to consider each operational detail with great care when preparing the marketing strategy for horse training. How much insurance is needed? Who will manage the website design and maintenance? Who will maintain social media sites? Is there room for expansion in a few years? Who will provide the veterinarian services in the event an animal develops a medical issue?
Specifics of the Business
The management section of the document also needs to clearly explain the experience of the owners and staff that qualifies them to successfully manage the enterprise. Loving the animals is not enough for running a successful enterprise. Some services, like preparing the animals for barrel jumping, may be contracted out to independent contractors, given the specialized nature of the skill. The business plan document will include a description of who is delivering each of the various services like farming crops for feed, facilities maintenance, veterinarian services, equipment repairs, and all the other services needed to operate an efficient and productive facility. OGS Capital works closely with entrepreneurs starting all types of enterprises because almost all entrepreneurs need help getting started on the right foot. We provide consulting services that readily assist entrepreneurs with developing a horse training business plan and landing appropriate funding. The process is initiated by sending the short online contact form to OGS Capital, and a consultant will quickly be in contact.
Illustrative business plan samples
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