I'm way behind on my writing (I won't call it blogging since I basically hammer out months worth of posts in one day when I find time) but I felt the desire to write this post because a lot is going on right now.
This has been a long, trying, exciting, and exhausting spring for us at Cirrus Sky Farms. I won't lie.
We've been trying to sell horses, trying to breed horses, trying to grow our dog training business, trying trying trying. At this point of the year, we've sold the horse we needed to sell (two weeks ago and naturally the one week that I had to be out of town to run an event in Houston), bred two gorgeous litters of puppies, lost two of our top females from our dog breeding program to freak but separate accidents, spent many thousands to breed the mares with none being pregnant to this point (Feb to August time frame if you're keeping track). In reality, we're breaking even most months.
Why am I not devastated or freaking out? Why do I keep trying?
Well, first, I'm breathing so I have a ton to be thankful for.
Second, while I've always had these ideas in my head since I was a small child, I honestly never thought I'd be able to play the game in any capacity. Maybe I'd be able to breed a dog once every 3 years. Maybe I'd have a Champion dog. Maybe I'd have a Training Level dressage horse. Maybe I'd compete in eventing again at a schooling show. Basically, I wanted to be my high school self but maybe without my parents hanging around all the time.
Third, I have a plan. Sometimes the plan rick rolls me on any given day, sometimes it comes through right when I need it most. So long as you're at least leveling out regularly and then constantly moving upwards you should be good. I swear, this is just like training a horse for FEI levels... keep your eye on the prize, right?
What is this magical plan?
Well, it's called a business plan. Sorry, it's not romantic or exciting. All those years of struggling and planning and waiting for "one day" led me to be able to code my own website, I know horse selling markets like no one's business. I know lines/pedigrees. I know how to scrounge up unbelievable deals. I know how to take care of horses in a preventative medicine way. I know how to forge relationships with the people that are most important to my success and keep them happy (husband, vet, farrier, prospective clients). I know how to be honest and how to value that in people. I'm an excellent photographer and marketing person. I can write. I can be upfront. I don't let people waste my time. I know how to say No. I know how to make choices based on numbers and not emotions. Sometimes you can get emotional, but I never let it make the choices. Dust those pants off and get back in the game.
This is about the long game and not the short game.
Business plans are amazing and so many people don't have them. I have about a hundred versions. Plans A through AAAAA so there's always a back up to my back up to keep me on track. I'm not a brave person by nature and the amount of money that is coming in and out of our farm is staggering and makes me want to hide in the corner. Thankfully Zoloft helps with that (just enough) and the numbers do the rest. Plus, the success of my dog training clients, our events, the horses, the interest I have on my sites, the warm feeling I get when people try our sales horses and they're rock solid, the pride I feel when my working student looks like a "real" dressage rider without my help... it all confirms that I'm on it. Oh and I've done SO MUCH in one year if I want to forget what I've done personally.
I'm basically a bad ass. Although I feel like a 13 year old girl staring at my life most the time wondering how this is all happening and wishing I had a stuffed horse toy to hug.
It's scary putting yourself out there. It's scary getting other people to buy into your stuff. It's scary as hell to throw more money on the line than you ever thought you'd make in a year on a single cause. It's scary to talk to banks and accountants about your dreams. It's scary to log into my banking app. (Even though I breath a sigh of relief more than I grimace most the time thankfully). It's scary to have people support you. It's scary to know that people have your back and are willing to work their asses off for you.
Hardest of all... It's scary to believe in yourself.
Believing in other people is easier. Supporting other people in their dreams is much easier. You can clap them on the shoulder and then talk smack about them behind their backs or just be jealous and wonder "why not me?" although you're realistically be scared to death to even try.
I won't lie... it's scary where I am. But I also see where this freight train is going (it's exciting and terrifying) and since I'm the one that let it out of the station... let's see where it goes. So far it's been one hell of a ride and I'm honored and humbled by the braver than me souls that have chosen to jump on this train with me.
Even though my village scares me to death, I wouldn't be where I am without them either and I am so grateful for them that I cannot even. I have sincere people that back me emotionally and financially. I now have people that if I need help teaching dog training lessons, they'll swallow their insecurities and give it a try (and rock the crap out of it!), I have shoulders to cry and vent on about what's going on and we Gif the hell out of each other until we're laughing on Messenger. My husband of course is a ridiculously big saint for going through all of this and honestly, we'd have that $1.5 million dollar loan and 60 acres in progress right now if it was up to him. He believes in what I'm doing and what he's seeing so much that he can't believe I haven't jumped in and done that yet.
$1.5M? *cries in a corner
I'm not alone and that's a heavy responsibility but also a slowly glowing wonderful feeling as I trust in it more. Even if I don't trust in it.. my limited time means I have to start taking more and more help as we grow at a cheetah's pace. Thankfully management skills and delegation are things I've learned very well as well. :)
This brings my wandering post back around to the diversifying concept. I NEVER have put my eggs in one basket. It scares me that I'll be left with nothing. We have horses we're trying to breed. Sales horses populate our round bales on our farm. Dog training is a constant happening at our farm. We do handling for people at dog events we're going to. Events are put on. We produce some amazing puppies for show and companionship. I just bought a smoking deal of a saddle from England that if we don't like it, I can easily flip it for a tidy profit. There is always money coming in (sometimes $30 at a time and sometimes $20K at a time) to offset the money bleeding out. The mares refusing to be bred is a bummer but I don't have time to dwell on it; a new sales horse comes in tomorrow and a new working student starts shortly. Do I need a bigger horse trailer? Time to research the numbers. We're running a dog event Friday - Saturday and then we are showing at a dog show on Sunday. No rest for the wicked.
It's all about diversifying and taking on things that make sense. It's also about saying no and making choices based on the non sexy numbers. I say No so much and I do feel (a little) bad but I cannot go negative for a dog club because they want barn hunt at an event (for example). I cannot drop the price on a horse that I know is worth it based on feelings. I don't do things if I break even on them (I could stay home to break even kthnx) unless it helps me in another way (advertising, marketing, reputation building, my personal enjoyment).
I do want the day to come where I'm not working three full time jobs personally (Thanks "real" job but we will need to part at some point). Would I ever do just one or the other? Probably not. When one is lacking, the other one tends to do well to cover. My CPA (who recently passed :( ) gave me the confidence to lump things together in that way versus playing the "this vs that" game. Portfolio thinking or something like that. He gave me the confidence to talk to financial persons about my goals, plans, and how spiffy I am. He believed in what we are doing and was one of the first to find me "incredible" when I still hadn't even hit that first show with Nirvana. I still have plans for a tropical fish store in my folders as well as some other business ventures that I will diversify into when I can. Me? I'll be riding ponies as much as I can when that day comes.
So basically: Learn to believe in yourself (as much as you dare) and diversify your gambles to spread the risk out.
Now to cry about the idea of the $1.5M plan (while dying to get to the point where we have it).