Springfield, MO

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Startup Corner: Springfield Riding Club LLC, Elizabeth Brooks

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Minimally viable product …
Shoveling s--- or, in more polite terms, manure moving. Horse owners are particular and interested in the care of their horses. They are uninterested in all the components of the daily routine care, such as cleaning stalls. Providing this service often results in growth into teaching owners horsemanship, training of horses, and selling and buying better horses for themselves.

Problem solving …
The Riding Club provides beginning and amateur horse enthusiasts access, interaction, and learning all the way through to the elite levels of equestrian performance, resulting in a more enriching and confident journey with horses.

Seed money …
This sole proprietorship was started with zero dollars in startup capital. The property owner made this start possible through investing in improving the functionality of the facility and grounds.

Hurdles overcome …
Every month is a cash flow hurdle to overcome. Hay for horses is a major variable expense and a resource that is only available six months out of the year. We were not intending to produce our own hay for the first three years. Eighteen months in, we now have more than enough of this resource to last us for the next year. This will ease that cash flow constraint for at least the next six months, as well as provide an alternative income source.

Next phase …
A big part of our mission is to increase the number of positive first experiences people have with horses. We are looking for ways to increase interaction with the surrounding community. We have begun to host all kinds of events, many of which are not horse related. The facility has a great location [on 100 acres in Rogersville] and lends itself well to many kinds of group gatherings.

Pivot …
In terms of our lesson program, we initially had a hands-off approach to instructors who taught at the Riding Club. Since we have developed a structured, cohesive lesson program, it has increased four times and is still growing by the day. It has gone from a side program to a significant portion of our business in less than six months.

Biggest mistake …
I would have had a minimum 18 months of startup capital to use as a cash-flow cushion. This is a low margin kind of business dependent largely on volume. Cash flow can get very tight from time to time.

Greatest need …
A fresh look from stakeholders for the sake of perception. This business does not compare to other “horse barns.” This business is here to help grow the perceived and actual value of what horses can do for people.


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