What A Big Brown Horse Taught Me About Business

Business Planning

I’ve been a horse-crazy person since I was a kid. Family members joke about watching toddler-aged-me falling asleep on the rocking horse. At the age of eight, my parents finally indulged my requests with some lessons. Unfortunately for their wallets the addiction did not stop there.

Last year a friend approached me about taking care of her young horse while she travelled internationally. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I agreed and found myself with Irish Brew, a relatively untrained, four-year-old Canadian Sport Horse. As a hobbyist rider, the relationship is much like your 16-year-old being given keys to a Lamborghi – a real learning experience. With equestrian sports being one of the most dangerous things you can do (as I am regularly reminded by my family doctor), I took on the partnership under the watchful eye of my excellent coach, Margaret Godson. The experience thus far has reinforced a number of life lessons I take through to my work here at Mentor Works as we work with business leaders across Canada.

#1 Have a Plan

Planning is many individuals’ biggest weakness. Many have a tendency to go on auto-pilot when sitting on a horse. A few weeks ago, failure to plan resulted in the horse going left and me going right. As I looked up from the ground at a surprised horse, I got it – thinking it through is essential to making sure the ride goes my way. While I am still a work in progress, this is my number one personal objective for 2015 – to develop and stick to my personal growth plans to better harness my potential!

Business leaders are also looking to harness the potential of their operations. It is hard to advise a company when a business leader cannot look forward into the next 6-12 months of their business and identify their key priorities. Perhaps you are thinking – “not me!” But you would be surprised at how many businesses we meet on auto-pilot. Strong businesses have a yearly capital budget and key business priorities; they are the easiest to help because these leaders have direction. Our work in Canadian government funding is all about your planned activities, our previous blog on Approval Timelines demonstrates why this is important – most of the time if you have committed to a project by spending the budget, and it is no longer eligible for funding approval.

#2 Engage Outside Expertise to Reduce Self-Doubt & Increase Success

New adventures in life or in business can be rewarding and challenging at the same time. When you lack the knowledge or skills to address roadblocks, frustration and self-doubt can take over. A trusted mentor or an experienced business partner can make all the difference. Having an experienced third party provide feedback on my work and guide me through obstacles has been essential to my success over the past six months. Not only do I have a coach who works with me, I also have engaged an experienced rider – Caroline Godson, to work with Brew once a week. Her on-board experience allows for insights that allow me to calm the questioning of my capabilities and ensure the horse develops her capabilities despite the fact that I lack some key skills. Engaging a mentor, expanding your team to include new skills sets, or bringing on an advisory board are common tools that we see in start-ups, or even peer-to-peer coaching groups for established businesses, such as those led by organizations such as The Executive Committee (TEC Canada).

#3 Make Your Value Statement Clear

Turns out that horses, like people, need you to build a relationship with them by being open, communicating clearly, and consistently offering credible solutions to problems. Business leaders don’t have the time for long-winded, complex explanations or sales pitches. Most horses don’t have the personalities to forgive repeated failures. You have to learn your audience and tailor your approach.

Here at Mentor Works, our goal is to create conversations and educate the market about Canadian government grant and loan opportunities. When it comes to small business funding, our team is used to meeting skeptics; business leaders who believe programs don’t work or that no business finds them useful. We can educate your team about this space and help you consider strategic funding solutions for your business growth.

If you’re interested in discovering business funding for your upcoming projects, please register for a Complimentary Funding Workshop or Webinar to explore what is currently available and how to get started.


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