Untangling The Myths of Profit And Greed In Equine BusinessSep 27, 2022
There is an unfortunate idea floating around the equestrian industry that if an equine business owner is financially successful, they must not truly be in it for the horses. Some people even label business owners as greedy or mercenary if they are making a profit, and fear of being seen as such can prevent entrepreneurs and professionals from pricing their services appropriately or pursuing profit at all.
As a collective, this thought — that there is something fundamentally greedy, shameful or unethical about creating profit — is holding us back from creating much-needed positive changes within the equine industry. Rather than imagining profit as something that benefits only the business owner, consider that a profitable, successful business can make much more of an impact on the industry than one struggling to stay afloat. Stable, profitable, well-run businesses benefit horses, business owners, employees, clients and customers, and their wider community.
Lesson barns with healthy cash flow can re-invest it into their school horses: with regular bodywork or a lower workload, the horses’ quality of life improves and their students get an improved experience on happier horses. Coaches and trainers who charge appropriately for their services can employ reliable staff, take better care of their physical health, and feel less drained by financial concerns, allowing them to focus more of their energy on teaching, training, and guiding the next generation. Boarding facilities that ensure they do not operate at a loss can maintain quality and continuity of care, even in the face of rising hay and energy costs. Sales businesses that generate healthy profit can put that money back into horse care, invest in their community by bringing sale horses to shows, or grow their financial cushion for top vet care in the case of future emergencies.
From this perspective, it’s clear that profit actually allows us to do better by our horses and fellow horse lovers. Operating a loss inevitably forces business owners into difficult situations that may not align with their values or long-term goals: selling a horse sooner than planned to reduce overhead expenses, or keeping an emotionally taxing client around to avoid interrupting cash flow. (Making no money for all your hard work is also a one-way ticket to burnout.)
All equine business owners need to be mindful of their pricing, understand the relationship between their pricing and their brand, and price to create profit. The only way to price for profit is to have a very clear understanding of your expenses, including the value of your own time and labor. Many of the equestrian entrepreneurs I work with did not factor in this financial data when they set their pricing… and it shows in their bank accounts and business operations.
If you’re operating at a loss or continuously funding your business through personal funds, that is an indicator you need to sit down with your numbers and decide how to fix the cash drain by reducing your expenses, increasing your income, or both. Can you revise your pricing to more accurately reflect the value of what you are offering and move your business forward? Think holistically about your entire business and build out various pricing models with your long-term goals in mind — if you’re a bodyworker with a big territory and an aging vehicle, your profit margin needs to support replacing that car sooner rather than later.
Profit is not greedy or shameful. Profit is the primary purpose of a business, and creating profit gives you the freedom to develop your business in a way that benefits you, your horses, and your community at large. It’s perfectly possible to have a profitable equestrian business without sacrificing your ethics or horse care - in fact, more money in the bank only makes it simpler to uphold your values, excel at your work, and give back to your horses and community.
Written by Christa Myers exclusively for On Course Equestrian.
Christa Myers is a professional bookkeeper specializing in the equestrian space and an On Course Equestrian instructor teaching courses on financial management, bookkeeping, budgeting, QuickBooks, pricing strategy, and more. You can connect with Christa at https://christamyers.com.
Cover photo by Dorrit Shank Photography.