For my Fellow Business Owners
To my fellow instructors, trainers, clinicians, and boarding barn owners, please listen up. This one is for you!
It is more than just okay for you to say, “No.”
I wish that I had believed this and learned this to be true sooner into my career. I suppose I came into this field like so many others, trying to please the masses and make all potential clients happy. I spent years catering to what individual boarders or students wanted or expected. Even if it wasn’t what I believed the horse or student needed. I tried so very intensely to please and make sure that not one person ever felt like I couldn’t help them or their horse. I sacrificed my own happiness, mental peace and sometimes even my beliefs.
Recently, an employee of mine came to me and asked if she could let a new and potential long term client go. Essentially, If she could ask them to not return. I replied quickly with a solid, “Yes.” I never questioned why she wanted to. You see, I had already met this person and had a feeling that we were not a fit for them. Our personalities, their wants, their needs, definitely our horsemanship beliefs and that our environment would not be conducive for them. I could see that there would be potential problems in the future, though, they saw none of this. I didn’t make the call to my employee to voice my thoughts on this because, ultimately, I wasn’t going to be the primary individual working with them. When my employee came to me and shared with me her feelings and reasons, I thought it was best to help my employee learn from my past mistakes and to trust her gut and follow it. I was supportive. That employee made the tough phone call and I could not have been more proud. Proud because it was an extremely hard conversation to have. It was also something that I wish that I had the strength to have done earlier in my career.
We go into this field selling ourselves. Whether it be selling our techniques, our knowledge and our services, we seem to still have the mindset that, “The customer is always right.” Wrong. They are not. If I would have listened to my gut from the start when a simple phone call came in, when a short evaluation happened or when a first visit occurred, I would have saved myself a LOT of headaches and stress.
Please remember that you, a business owner, a clinician, an instructor and a trainer, absolutely DO have every right to pick and choose who you bring into your business, barn, into your barn family and into your life. When you can truly connect with those in your presence, you both will be successful. When you can truly enjoy the company of those that you are working with and for, you will enjoy doing it. When you know that those who are paying you are fully vested in you, you will bring the best of yourself. This does not mean that you should not be questioned, but simply that you should be respected.
Do not be afraid to turn down business, as I wish I had turned more people away than what I have. I don’t say that with ease and it is certainly not easy to do when the time comes. It is not mean, it is not rude, and it is certainly not bad business. In fact, you are most likely saving them and yourself a negative ending in the future! After all, this is your LIVELIHOOD and you need to enjoy doing it! Surround yourself with those that bring you nothing but joy. There is someone and someplace for everyone, you just might not be that person or that place.