Launching your own horse coaching practice is not for the faint of heart. The early days of your endeavor are full of excitement. Your journey gains traction through press releases and friend's referrals. You feel like this is going somewhere, it feels doable, yay!
Yet, after a while, something strange happens. The initial excitement fades as you enter the brutal doldrums of the 'inbetween'. In the doldrums you are neither a fledgling practice, nor quite successful yet either. Ugh.
This is a peculiar place to be. The slow place can make you doubt yourself and your product. You wonder if you were wrong to believe your great ideas were worth building a business around. Are people truly needing your service or was it all an illusion. Will it ever get better?
Starting your own business, no matter what field you are in, is one of the hardest things you'll ever do. In 2019, the failure rate of startups was around 90%. 21.5% of startups fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% in the fifth year, and 70% in their 10th year. More than 95 percent of startups fall short of their initial projections.
Jaiks, getting heart palpitations and clammy palms yet?
Relax. Remember, you DO have what it takes, but what matters is where you fix your gaze.
17 Signs of brutal growing pains.
The following experiences are completely normal when failing forward in the doldrum phase of launching a business. They are NOT signs you are failing. They are growing pains as you transition from ugly duckling practice to powerful swan practitioner. They are also signs that you need some healthy space between you and your practice, so that you can sustain yourself through this awkward adolescence phase of business building.
All these thoughts and feelings and sensations are a normal part of early practice launching. Building a practice is rarely smooth sailing all the way through. There are very few businesses that became an instant overnight success. Most have been percolating for years, with business owners amassing skill, knowledge and experience well before the idea to launch a business was ever born. Remember that as you stumble, trip and fall your way forward through the doldrums.
Sometimes motivated entrepreneurs take their skills too far. The more driven you are, the more likely you have what it takes to build a practice from scratch. However, the more driven you are, the more like you also suffer from anxiety around failure, so the more you have to lose mentally.
Give yourself time. If you came to the conclusion that having your own practice is a good idea, then you have a spirit with a proclivity for obsessively hard work. Make sure you understand how to stay physically and mentally balanced and healthy while you embark on this path.
Here are 5 tips to protect your sanity while launching your own practice.
1. Do not wrap up your identity in your practice. You do not want to teach your mind that if your practice fails, this means you personally are a complete wreck of failure. Keep a healthy separation. Repeat after me: Your practice is what you DO; it does not define who you ARE.
2. YOU and your family have priority; not your practice. If you experience obsession over success or failure of your practice that prevents you from enjoying time with your loved ones, it is time to reevaluate priorities in your life and make healthier choices.
3. Have an exit plan. Know what you will do to take care of your needs (and those of your family) should the practice go under. Don't gamble, don't stick your head in the sand. Make educated decisions, be prepared, and be realistic.
4. Be conservative with your expenses. Investing in your company is fine. Using savings to carry your practice through temporary setbacks is also fine and sometimes needed. However, invest based on your practice's needs, and not on your wants. I used to work for a start up company that was under water financially, yet the CEO bought a brand new wide screen TV to help the team stay on top of the workload. Nobody ever looked at that TV, and a few years later the company was kaput. Keep it simple. Luxuries are often just a trick to make you feel more successful than you are or to attempt to impress other people with your financial success.
5. Be realistic and don't bullshit yourself. Are you able to pull this off, or is working for someone else's practice a better fit for you? Is this practice ultimately worth the brutal sacrifice you are making? Is it in alignment with your purpose and life view? Why are you doing it? Are you trying to make your parents proud, impress your boyfriend, prove your husband wrong? Make sure your motivation is pure, authentic and worth wile, or toss the entire practice in the trash in favor for an endeavor that truly fits you well.
KEEP GOING. YOU ARE DOING GREAT.
But if you love what you are doing, and your intuition says you are on the right track, keep your eye on that Northern Star, and do not give up just yet. Be realistic, but if it feels right, keep on going, keep on trucking, keep on failing forward. When encountering set backs, take a deep breath and try again in the morning. Soon you may move from the doldrums into the space where fair winds blow your practice toward clients who need you and your amazing practice. For some of you the payoff is completely worth the brutal winds of erratic change. For some of you it isn't. Know yourself and if it feels truly right; KEEP GOING. YOU ARE DOING GREAT.
Here are some of EquineFlow's failures, ahum, evolutions in the 12 years from 2009 to 2021. Can you see the multiple identity crises EquineFlow went through? Click on each image to read the description of what the heck I was trying to accomplish. I still have a headache from that, ugh.
However, for the past 3 years or so, EquineFlow has entered a space of fair winds, in which the scope has narrowed further as the fog lifted for where the core of EquineFlow must lie. Will it stop evolving? I highly doubt it. Change is the nature of the game and I enjoy how EquineFlow grows where humanity flows.
So moral of the story; breathe, smile and enjoy the wild ride. Know your limits; don't give up too soon and certainly not too late. And if you need help, shoot me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bon voyage!