Today is the second year anniversary of my business, and two years since I was employed.
It’s been a couple of years of ups and downs, but definitely worth the plunge.
Thinking back, the dynamics of the business have changed dramatically, and much more than I anticipated. In the beginning I worked Saturday’s and a couple of weekday evenings in a riding school, and taught half a dozen extra lessons during the week. The downtime I had definitely gave me chance to enrol on the relevant courses I needed for my insurance, and Pony Club. Most of my clients were kids. The first summer I did three Pony Club camps, which were very lucrative when I was effectively part time. It was also a good opportunity to get my foot in the door for Pony Club. Nowadays, I don’t teach at a riding school, I teach far fewer kids, and this year I don’t have as many lessons to teach in the evening as I did last year. That doesn’t worry me too much, because I find that you can get stale if you do too much teaching, and I find my approach is fresher.
It wasn’t until the first winter that I started to pick up work exercising horses, but this seems to be where the business has changed most. This time last year I remember riding four horses one day and thinking I’d had a busy day. Now four horses to ride in the diary is a quiet day!
The only clipping work I do now is for clients horses, and it’s a useful sideline, but not something for me to focus on! I don’t think I’m artistic enough.
Last year I ran a stable management course which I really enjoyed, but they aren’t really viable unless I have my own facilities because by the time I’ve hired venues and prepared the lecture it’s very time consuming and not that economic. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be happy to do some stable management, or lunging lessons, for those who need it for BHS exams or for their own satisfaction.
I think it will be interesting to see how the dynamics of my business changes in the next few years, especially if I have any lifestyle changes. But the best thing is that I can control it.
One thing I don’t think I’ll ever get used to, and I think it’s partly the joys of working with horses, working outside, and life’s way of throwing curved balls, is the ever changing unknowns. The fact that my week isn’t guaranteed because
- The weather is against us
- Rider lameness or illness
- Horse lameness
- Routine vet/physio/farrier/dentist visits
- Other appointments, such as human dentist or children
- The facilities are unusable (usually weather related)
- Changes of circumstances
Obviously some of these are planned, and we shift days around, but there’s always last minute crises, and are unavoidable.
I’m learning to go with the flow of a changing diary and instead of thinking of money lost, think of time gained (much easier to do when you’re busier and have an established business. In the beginning I found myself worrying I wasn’t doing a good enough job). Even if it’s the opportunity to check up on my emails or organise the diary (or write a blog). And keep an eye on my diary to keep it up to date. That is one bonus of working for yourself; if you work late one evening you can make sure you finish early another day to keep the work/life balance. This year I’ve learnt to take bank holidays as days off because family time is necessary, but also because I’m not that good at taking time off so using public holidays is a good excuse.
So cheers to all my lovely clients, riders and horses, who make my job so great and satisfying, and bring on this year!