Leaving Your Mark

I grab a special handle on the sliding barn door every day to open it. It’s not fancy; it’s built for function, much like a horse shoe.The manufacturer of that handle put his heart and soul into all of the iron he produced as a blacksmith and a farrier. My door handle is proudly stamped with “Vern H.” to let the world know he made it.

He’s passed on and I often think about him and his work with horses and their owners when I see the stamp.Your pride in your work will leave a legacy that will endure far longer than any of your material goods you value so highly today.

Think about it, when you leave this world, your money will be distributed to your heirs who will use it and mix it back into the economic river where you found it. It’s likely your clothes will be donated to strangers and after personal keepsakes are distributed, the remainder of your effects will end up in a garage sale or landfill.

What’s left for your legacy are your own little stamps you make along your way in life.You know, like the time you gave a kid a job who desperately needed the money and some solid advice in a troubled time.  Or the time you gave a talk to a group of 4-H ‘ers where one kid remembers your words about good horsemanship for the rest of his life. And when the riding camp student from twenty five years ago brings her daughter to camp and says please give her the confidence you gave me when I needed it so much.

Your words and actions are the stamps that truly make your legacy.

Leave your mark with pride.       


Innovate Please, No Permission Slip Required

If you are a business owner with an entrepreneurial mindset, you have a steady stream of ideas, both good and not so good, to improve your business. Chances are high most of your good ideas never get fully evaluated, developed and put in practice due to the lack of permission slip.

With regressive thoughts back to your school years field trip, a business owner often sets a barrier for moving forward, because of conditioning that he or she needs approval, like a permission slip, from spouse, parents, siblings or friends for putting a bold innovative idea to the test.

The only permission required for your ideas is from your customers. Ask them. If response is favorable, you have all of the permission you need.

Get going.

How to Improve Your Horse Business In Less Than 3 Days

I had the pleasure of presenting at Betsy Webb’s Riding Instructor’s Workshop in Louisville, KY www.ridinginstructorworkshop.com/riw-seminar/ over the weekend. I’ve attended many workshops/seminars in my career and here’s what I know from  experience.empty class room

The attendees at these gatherings offer just as much, probably more than, the presenters do to help your business. You see, lifelong learners are passionate about sharing as well. The experience and tips offered by others in your profession can be worth tens of thousands of dollars over the years of your career. Hearing the voices of experience helps erase all of the fear that has held you back from initiating change.

You can read books, watch videos and listen to motivational audio for sure, but nothing beats dedicating your time and money to participate all-in at a gathering of like-minded professional horsemen.

What are you going to do about continuing your education in 2016?

You Can Forget About Your Weaknesses If You…

You are what your are, you ain’t what you ain’t…

Research has shown it’s a waste of time to try to improve your weaknesses. Instead, direct your energy toward building and improving your strengths. Your customers will love you for your many strengths and forgive you for your occasional weaknesses.

No one ever said, “That Einstein was absolutely brilliant with his theories. Too bad he was a terrible speller.”

Trouble Shooting Your Broken Business

If I had to make a living fixing small engines, no doubt my kids would have been very skinny. My friend Craig is my go to source for small engine repair problems.  He tells me I make it too difficult when troubleshooting my small engine repairs.  “It’s one of three problems, always“, he tells me.

  1. Spark
  2. Fuel
  3. Air

And he’s right.  The problem is always related to one of these three simple things.  If I run down his list of three, I can always solve my problem.

Spark, fuel and air are the three items that usually need to be considered when troubleshooting a business, too.

Spark is the equivalent of leadership.  Is the owner a leader sparking, inspiring and giving the business and employees direction?

Fuel makes the business go.  Are there proper resources:  tools, machinery, horses and working capital?

Air is the life of the business.  Are the employees providing the right kind of “oxygen” and energy for business success?  Can they and are they able to sustain the business with their actions and talents?


Are You Running Your Marathon Wearing Snow Shoes?

Many professional horsemen tell me they are crazy busy. I’m not sure what that means exactly but I take it to mean they are crazed doing many things each day. And if all the things being done each day move the business along in a positive way, then I salute their discipline and tenacity.

If they are crazy as in feeling on the edge of insanity because of the burden of working in the business e.g. cleaning stalls, feeding, watering, arena grooming, getting feed, fixing the tractor yet again and renewing the truck registration, then perhaps they should evaluate the difference between being busy and productive and being busy tolerating chaos.

When every day feels like you’re running a marathon wearing snow shoes, it’s time to evaluate how you go about setting yourself up to win as opposed to just finish before they turn the lights out.

Call, Don’t Write!-It Worked 30 Years Ago and Still Works Today

Thirty years ago, “Call, don’t write!”, was salesman Bill Burhans phrase for action in business. Pre-internet days, Bill knew a phone call would significantly speed the process of writing up and completing a sale. Writing a purchase order and mailing it was the norm for doing business for the last 100 years. It was reliable, but impersonal and very slow.

Today, we still write. It’s in text form or email and fast, but it’s still written communication. It’s clunky and often misinterpreted. Phone calls in business take time; productivity screams for speed.
Relationships in business thrive when occasional communication by voice interrupts the robotic email chains.

Bill’s “Call, don’t write” maxim is more appropriate than ever with your next business communication with customers and vendors. You both will appreciate a moment of actual conversation as you reconnect.

What Professional Horsemen Can Learn From Big Business

Here is what riding instructors and horse trainers can learn from studying big business: Not much.
Big business operates with volume and can leverage their economies of size for profit. You can’t.
Your business can react quickly, offer personal service and develop lasting relationships. Big business can’t.

You’re not in the volume  game similar to selling huge flat screen TV’s at discounted prices. You’re selling emotionally gratifying experiences with horses, self-confidence and personal achievement. That’s a high price investment that’s easy to sell when you properly frame it.

If your prospects and  customers are price conscious well above everything else, send them to your competitors. Quality and high value are never in the same sentence with low price.