The Cost of Doing Business: Insights Into Equestrian Business Model Overhaul

In the equestrian world, profitability can often seem like a challenging hurdle to overcome. As businesses navigate factors such as price fluctuations, wage increases and legislation, the question arises: is it time to reconsider business practices to make equestrian ventures more viable?

Seismic Shifts in the Equestrian Landscape

Ali Dane, owner of Hurston Dressage & Eventing, captured this sentiment at the National Equine Forum on 7 March, boldly declaring that a "lack of profitability is baked into our industry". She cited the impending largest ever national minimum wage (NMW) increase as a significant game-changer for equestrian businesses. The age criteria has also shifted, meaning that a 21-year-old working a 57-hour week will be entitled to £10,000 more per year from 1 April. These factors force the industry to rethink its business strategy. Dane championed the drive towards a more adaptive, modern, and professional approach. She believes that profitability, long overlooked in the equestrian world, must become the nucleus around which businesses revolve.

The Nuts and Bolts of Overhauling Business Practices

Dane proposed a mix of fixed and adaptive business strategies that offer a head start. Compliance, she noted, is a cornerstone. Complying with wage legislation and insurance requirements is non-negotiable. Forecasting and budgeting are critical as proactive practices, such as reaching out to suppliers well in advance for stock and prices, can save financial curveballs down the line. Advocating price increments, Dane stated, "I increase prices every year, as everyone should." This proposal speaks to the realities of running an equestrian business, where costs rarely plateau. Lastly, valuing people holds pivotal importance in running a profitable venture. Dane emphasized that it is the people who drive the business, rather than the horses, which are rather the passion powering the industry.

Moving Forward: Horses for Courses?

Equestrian businesses, like any others, need to adapt to thrive. While changes may initially seem daunting, the alternative could be more damaging. Let's remember the old saying, "Change is the only constant". And in the words of Ali Dane, "If we're to ensure we pull through this staffing crisis, good employment must be the norm, not the exception." The solutions for a viable equestrian business model may already be in place. It might just require a different lens to view them. In the end, the industry's success hinges upon better business management and a greater value placed on its dedicated workforce. Change is never easy, but in these trying circumstances, it is not only necessary – it's inevitable.

Referenced Source

Jones, E. (2024, March 11). ‘Lack of profitability is baked into our industry’: how equestrian business must change to become viable. Horse & Hound.