Business Basics for Equine Businesses: Basic Strategic Plan

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Editor's note: We will run a series this month of five articles that will give you a solid foundation to help you better manage your business. The topics will cover Basic Strategic Planning, Creating a Spreadsheet, Using Excel for List Management, Scheduling Basics, Mail Chip and other Newsletter Services.

Credit: Thinkstock A strategic plan outlines how you plan to compete in the marketplace and how to become more desirable compared to others with a similar business model.

Credit: Thinkstock A strategic plan outlines how you plan to compete in the marketplace and how to become more desirable compared to others with a similar business model.

A strategic plan can creates a roadmap for success. A well-written strategic plan provides direction and focus for the owner, manager and any employees.

“A strategic plan outlines how you plan to compete in the marketplace and how to become more desirable compared to others with a similar business model,” said Bruce Mandeville,a professor of equine science at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, and a two-time Olympian for the Canadian Equestrian Team competing in Three-Day Eventing.

The SWOT analysis is one tool that can be used to develop a strategic plan. To be effective, it’s important to remember that the process looks at the big-picture rather than becoming an exercise in identifying specific tactics to accomplish goals.

S-signifies strengths and outlines the advantages your stable has over others in your area.

W-stands for weaknesses and highlights the disadvantages your barn has compared to the competition.

O-is for opportunities; these can come from either the strengths or weakness identified. For example, advances in technology might present an opportunity. A stable that installs a video surveillance system and provides remote access for horse owners to see their horses might be considered an opportunity.

T- is for threats. Considerations that classify as threats could relate to obstacles you face, services your competitors are offering, bad debt or cash flow problems, and much more.

“Focus on your core strengths and how to differentiate your offerings from others,” Mandeville said. “Think about what you can leverage and how you can make your services unique and attractive.”

The internet is an excellent resource for finding tips for creating a strategic plan.

“There are not many good books dedicated to stable owners. Sadly that is lacking in our industry,” Mandeville said. “There are many excellent marketers who use the internet and offer free advice. Seth Godin is a common ‘go to’ resource.”