The Horse Business Series: finding your voice, creating your niche
There are many ups and downs when setting up a business, and your initial motivation can quickly lead to thoughts of self-doubt. One issue that you might struggle with, and one that affects many people, is what I call a ‘scarcity mindset’ – the feeling that there’s not enough room for you or that there are too many people that do what you want to do, only better. You may look at the volume of competition and get scared away from pursuing your dream, all because you have been conditioned to think in a scarcity mindset, rather than a mindset of opportunity and abundance. Yes, there are other people doing what you do and yes, many will do it very well; however, it certainly does not mean that there is no room for you to prosper. You just need to find your own unique take on things, your own unique voice.
Reflect on the horses you know and think about their place in life. They each have different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, but each one has something unique to teach you and each deserves a place in the pasture. For example, lets compare two of my horses, Valdamora (Valdi) and Zephyr, who are both leaders among the horses at our barn. Zephyr is a former breeding stallion gelded at age 13, so he has a well-defined ego and idea of his status and self-worth. When retraining him in dressage after years showing as a driving horse, I found the most success when convincing him that whatever I asked was his idea. He needs to be pushed towards something, and when he understands what is being asked he believes that it was his plan all along. Valdi, on the other hand, is an alpha mare who rules any group she’s in with controlled confidence. When riding Valdi, she sometimes decides she simply will not do something being asked of her – she plants her feet and just will not move. Pushing her is almost like an offence to her authority. I’ve learned with Valdi that it’s ok to stop for a minute and let her process the issue. Providing both of us time to rebalance our partnership gives her the willingness to meet me halfway. In this example, both horses are strong personalities, both are teaching me about leadership, and both are doing so with their own perspective and in their own unique voice.
Just like with Valdi and Zephyr, you have your own gifts and your own perspective to bring through your business, and you need to identify and hold onto what excites you and what you’re good at. Maybe you are particularly empathetic, or perhaps you’re very detail-oriented and precise, or maybe you’ve got a wicked sense of humor! You have a combination of talents and skills to bring to the table. Highlighting your strengths and finding ways to apply them to your business makes what you offer unique. When you find a way to inject your own voice into everything you do, clients can feel your authenticity and your enthusiasm and will more readily gravitate to you, because your behavior and your business are aligned.
Take some time to write down what you love to do, what you believe you’re good at, and what excites you most. Think widely about transferrable skills as well - don’t limit yourself just to horses, because chances are that you’ve learned a lot about yourself in other roles or circumstances that could be applied to your equine business. Most of all, be kind to yourself. Remember that the mindset of abundance applies not just to the way that you look at the world, but the way that you look at yourself.
In next week’s article, we’ll discuss writing a business plan: why you need one, how to write one, and how to ensure that your voice is represented throughout. In the meantime, if you have questions, just let me know! You can find me at email@example.com, or on Facebook and Instagram. I’m always happy to help!