You’re at your desk dreaming of being an entrepreneur. Or you’ve started a horse cookie company because you’ve managed to turn your endurance horse into a roly-poly Thelwell pony on those cookies alone.
OMG, your head is spinning. “What am I doing and why did I do it? I need a plan!” you exclaim. “Yes, a plan is a good start.” Now your head is whirling and twirling as you ask, “Where do I start?” The best way to start is answer these questions.
Who am I? Defining who you are, as a business and as an individual, gives you a firm foundation on which to build. What are your strengths and weaknesses, what do you love and hate about your business? If you opened a boarding stable at your home, but covet your privacy, you may have to rethink your idea.
What business am I in? Nobody can be all things to all people, and the same is true of a business. What if you are a riding instructor who can teach hunt seat, saddle seat, and stock seat? If you specialize in a breed where riders compete in multiple disciplines, your versatility could be priceless. But if the majority of your students want to compete at the big hunter/jumper shows, consider specializing.
When have I been most successful? Chances are the answer to that question will reveal your greatest strength. If you were the top merchandising manager at Big Brand Clothing Chain and then decide to open an online equestrian clothing store, your experience will give you a better chance of success than someone who lacks your background.
Where is my business needed? It’s far easier to fill a need than to create one. Where can your business make a difference in people’s lives? If you love the hand-braided rawhide and hand-tooled leather of the old vaquero tack, but your tack shop is located in a hunter/jumper hot spot, changing your inventory to suit your customers might be a better plan than converting the locals.
Why am I in this business? Last but not least, this is the most important question of all. If you’re in the business of providing therapeutic riding to autistic children because that’s your passionate mission in life, chances are you’ll find a way to overcome any obstacles that appear in your path. If you’re in your business for reasons that are important to you, you’ll have the drive to go the extra mile in search of success.
Now that you’ve answered the questions of “who, what, when, where, and why”, you’’ ready to make plans that turn your answers into action.