Book Review: What It Really Takes to Start and Run a Horse Business pt 2

This is the only book I’ve come across that discusses a business plan for a horse business.
Key topics of value touched on in this book:
  • Researching and writing a business plan for horses
  • The importance of a lawyer
  • The dangers of borrowing too much
  • The pitfalls of construction contracts
  • Tips for dealing with boarders
  • What they’d do differently 

As I noted in the previous review, this book is narrative based and weaves the instructive material into the cautionary tale of the author’s horse boarding business, which nearly went under early one in the process. This story is the key to the value of this book. That and the actual attention to what an equestrian entrepreneur will need to consider for a business plan.
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But, this book definitely had flaws that I may have glossed over in the first impression review.  A pet peeve jumped out at me right away. On page 18, which is early in the story since the Table of Contents is eight (!!!) pages long by itself, there was a typo where they mixed up sight and site. “Love at first site”. Ouch. For something that should have been looked at by professional copy-editors (unlike this blog) that was an unsettling find.
Another caveat is that the actual details about writing a business plan are a little out of date. She ran her 8 year old business plan by a financial expert and notes some of their suggested changes. But, that’s only a really a mock run. The section was still useful for me, someone with zero business experience, as a place to get the gist before moving on to more advanced reading on the subject. I will need to look at less specialized sources now and we will revisit this book later to translate general business advice into the horse industry. This horse business plan advice I will synthesize for you all as well.

The further I got into this book the more it began to drag on. Once the story of how the Grunksa’s started their business ended and we got into the advice for running the business the writing became increasingly disorganized. It seemed once she lost the storytelling framework she couldn’t effectively organize the information. Although as someone who struggles with organization myself I mostly blame the editing team for not helping the author clean this up. The author has so much to share that she jumps around from thought to thought, often needing to return her previous train of thought. She often repeats the same point just under different topics. Her core point of be professional, stand by your convictions and decisions, don’t take things personally, and develop your leadership skills was repeated in many sections, including, pastures, feeding supplements, farriers, vets, asking a border to leave, etc. What this means for the reader is that this book is not going to be easy to use for future reference. It’s best to read this book front to back. Then it reads like a story someone is telling you. A bit jumbled, but with really good information overall.

Those critiques aside,h er horror story of a building experience will give any hopeful equine entrepreneur pause. Pause, that I think is useful. You need to stop and really think about the risks and how to mitigate them. This book does talk about strategies to avoid their mistakes (strategy number one is HIRE A LAWYER EARLY and USE THEM). As well as not borrowing too much and putting yourself in a tight financial place. This leads me straight to our next book Spank the Bankwhich is about finding financing from sources other than bank loans. 
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Final judgment: This book is well worth your time. But it won’t be your go-to reference over the long term.
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