Running your own business is exciting. When you have an idea, you can implement it immediately and make changes whenever you want. Sometimes, however, you might not know where to take a great idea or how to handle a business challenge. That's when working with a mentor might become the most important thing you can do for your business, according to Cheryl West, a Region 8 representative for the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) who runs West Equestrian Services & Training in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.
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“No matter what level you are at, there is always someone else who has more experience, training, etc.,” she said. “Let them guide you around pitfalls, through tough spots, and help you be a better instructor, trainer and coach. My mentors have been invaluable, and I love passing my information and experience along to those whom I have helped develop into instructors.”
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Mentor relationships change over time based on the different stages of personal and professional growth. Working with more than one mentor over your career or even at the same time can be beneficial when each mentor has something different to offer you.
Finding the right mentor begins with knowing your goals. Spend time thinking about what you’d like to learn or become better at in your equine business. That will help you identify someone with the right experience who can help you.
It’s also important to be committed. The best outcomes from a mentoring relationship come from the effort you put into the advice a mentor gives.
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To find a mentor, first look within your professional network. You might choose to approach someone you already have a relationship with. Conversely, you can ask someone you know if they could recommend a mentor who has skills in the area you are seeking.
Instructors Instead of Mentors
While finding a mentor for your equine business is wonderful, not everyone needs that type of relationship. If you are trying to be a better teacher, you might just need to find the right riding instructor from whom you can learn the skills you are missing. Then take those skills and pass them along to your students.
“Finding the right instructor is different from a mentor,” West said. “I wish that I had found the instructors I have now 20 years ago. They are amazing and patient women who really understand body mechanics and have truly helped me make huge progress. I get exactly the information I need, when I need it.”
Equine business owners can create an Amazon Business Account.
If you are looking to find or be a mentor in the equine industry, joining a group such as CHA can support your personal and business interests can create opportunities for you to grow.
And if you just want to be a better rider—or a better riding instructor—then learning from experienced teachers whose skillsets are different from yours might be the right path for your continuing advancement.
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