Four things my Horse has taught me about Business
I know, I know, you’re thinking come on Natalie, what could your horse possibly teach you about business? Although Slammer is no Mr. Ed I promise there are some valuable lessons here, just stay with me.
LESSON ONE: YOU ALWAYS, ALWAYS NEED TO SHOW UP
I consider myself somewhat of a hard-core equestrian, meaning that even when it is zero degrees out and there is ice covering the ground from the barn to the arena, I still show up for my ride. I show up because I made a commitment to being the best rider I can be. I show up because I know that consistency and hard work are the habits that breed success. I show up because I know that Slammer needs to get out of his stall and get in shape. I show up because he depends on me.
It’s just like showing up for your business. Even when it gets rough, you still have to show up. You made a commitment to your business and the people you serve. There are times when you are just not going to feel like showing up. You might be tired or bored or feel unmotivated. The hard times are when you have to dig deep and remind yourself WHY you are doing what you do.
LESSON TWO: IF YOU FALL OFF YOU HAVE TO GET RIGHT BACK ON
I have fallen off of Slammer more than once. The first time I fell my ego was bruised more than my body. I thought I could handle anything as a rider but it turned out I wasn’t ready for my horse to get spooked by snow falling off the roof of the arena. He did a little quick movement to get away and I just didn’t see it coming.
The second time I fell off, I HURT. I had to lay on the ground more a few moments to assess the damage. My neck and head took a beating and I was nauseous. My trainer was of course concerned, but as soon as she saw me getting re-collected she said, “you have to get back on”.
I knew she was right but I did not want to do it. For the first time I was truly scared. All I knew was that I did NOT want to fall again. But I also knew that I needed to reestablish trust with my horse and keep going.
Sometimes you “fall off the horse” in business too. Maybe you made a mistake and the consequences or backlash was more than you thought you could handle. Or maybe you tried to launch a product or service and it just fell flat. It sucks, it hurts and sometime the pain lasts more than a day. This is when perseverance needs to prevail. You need to say to yourself, “ok, well that freakin’ sucked but I’ve gotta move forward.”
Don’t let yourself lay on the ground too long or give into the fear of falling off again. Just get back on the horse.
LESSON THREE: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO MUCK THE STALL
Every little girl dreams of someday owning a horse. It looks like so much fun. You get to brush the horse, braid it’s mane and go riding whenever you want to. While all of those things are true…there are also parts of owning a horse that aren’t so glamorous. Here’s the thing, horses poop. Alot. And someone has to clean up after them. Oh, and there are also times when horses like to roll on the ground IN their poop. I kid you not.
So, while owning a horse is cool there are parts of the gig that aren’t - again, it’s a lot like owning a small business. There are LOTS of perks, like being in charge of your own schedule. Being able to set your own hours and workout whenever you feel like it. But there are also the times when you feel like you are knee deep in manure and you’ve gotta clean the stall.
We all have parts of being an entrepreneur that no no fun but they HAVE to be done. Those things are going to be different for everyone. I personally don’t love running payroll or fill out forms for insurance companies but it’s gotta happen to keep the business going.
I do have someone who helps to keep Slammer’s stall clean because I’m not at the barn every single day. If there are parts of your business that you don’t love think about how you might be able to delegate those tasks or get some help. For an example, I use a book keeper to keep track of income and expenses. I let them “muck the stall” of my books that way I don’t have to worry about doing a part of the job that I dislike and I have peace of mind knowing that it was done correctly.
LESSON FOUR: IT IS NEVER TOO LATE
I didn’t start riding until I was thirty-six years old. My step-daughter loves to ride so we found a local stable where she could take lessons. After watching her take a few lessons I thought to myself, “I’d kind-of like to ride a horse”. Just a year later after many lessons I bought Slammer.
Now, at the barn where we ride there aren’t many adult riders. Maybe about 5, at the most. The rest are little girls from 4 years old up to high school age. Sometimes when I take a group lessons it’s me and a bunch of 12 year olds. And I honestly could care less. Riding is so much fun and even if the 8 year olds can ride circles around me I am just pumped to be there.
If you love something and you have a passion in your heart for it - you should do it. Don’t ever use the excuse that you’re too old. It is never too late to start that business that you’ve dreamed of or to take that big leap.
I could have told myself that it was “too late” for me to learn how to ride, or that I’m too old to compete but that would have stolen the joy from something that I love to do. The best part of this story is that a few months after I started riding a new adult student started taking lessons. Her name is Barb. She’s in her sixties and she is a complete badass.