OTRR LEVEL UP – HEATHER SMITH BARRELRACINGTIPS.COM PART THREE
If you missed the first two parts of Heather’s interview please check it out here.
Did you start your own business because you wanted freedom from the 8-5, to earn more money, or bring a great idea to the industry, or for all of those reasons?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I think because I realized early on it was my best option for the flexibility I’d need to pursue my barrel racing. My number one value in life is freedom. Even if it means working more hours, it’s worth it to me if I determine how I spend them. At the same time, we can’t trade the 8-5 for 24-7! Growing up I didn’t feel like I had options, and that really created my desire to be able to do what I wanted anytime I wanted as well. Most jobs mean you’re devoting your life to building somebody else’s dream and that didn’t sit well with me because I had my own dreams! We are each the best and most qualified and motivated person to build them. Most regular jobs also come with limitations for earning potential, and I wanted to pour my heart and soul into building something without limits – something where I’d get compensated fairly for the value I put out there. Being my own boss was the only way for that to happen. I’m really passionate about filling the gap when it comes to educational resources for horsemanship and barrel racing. For example – resources for becoming a more athletic jockey, for improving equine biomechanics, for connecting to a horse’s mind vs. only controlling the body, which is just the tip of the ice berg. I don’t want people and horses to work hard, do all the right things, follow the experts advice and still feel stuck and frustrated like I did. I figure that working for myself where I can determine the hours, and devote myself to something that helps others and is related to barrel racing allows me to keep learning is the perfect “bridge job” or secondary source of income. So you could say I started my own business for all those reasons!
Looking back on your business, would you do anything different?
I wouldn’t have sacrificed my marriage, health, or personal horse time so much for business success. I would have worked smarter vs. harder. I would have let go of perfectionism and comparison and realized sooner that the business people I admired actually had a dozen employees behind them, and that if I never achieved their level of professionalism, it was OK. I prefer to keep things simple. Although delegating and outsourcing is important, I don’t have any desire to manage employees, so if that limits my growth to an extent, that’s OK with me. I don’t have to be the biggest, I just want to be happy, financially free and do what I love every day. No amount of success or money is worth our peace of mind.
I would have just focused on my books only instead of feeling I should branch out into other areas just because I could. I’ve learned that just because other people are doing lots of cool things, or that even if we’re capable of cool things and good at them – doesn’t mean we have to and should be doing them! We can do anything, but we can’t do everything – and certainly not all at the same time. Keeping it simple is where it’s at for me, I’d rather be really good at one or two things than do several things half way. The key is in not getting spread too thin and making sure there is still time every day to spend doing whatever we love most – for me that’s riding horses!
What advice would you give someone that wants to take the leap to start their own business?
I have never been one to follow the status quo, I have my Mom to thank for that. She just wasn’t a typical farm wife and gave me the courage to be uniquely me. Something in me knew I could do anything because early in life, I really had to. I had to figure things out, be independent and take care of myself. So I wasn’t afraid to take risks and think outside the box. Even if my family or husband didn’t initially believe in me, I did when it came to my career and that was enough (they do believe in my now, BTW!). Just because no one you know is making a living doing the kind of business you want do, doesn’t mean you can’t. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense to others. Try to do your homework and be realistic about what your goals will take, and if you want it, then don’t doubt yourself. Everything is figure-outable. Make sure there’s an actual market for your idea, that you will enjoy the kind of work it will take and that it won’t actually sidetrack you from what you really want most. I put in a ton of hours over the course of many years to slowly ease into transitioning to my (second) business full-time. You have to love it, and want it almost worse than air.
What do you believe is the one thing that made your business succeed?
In the beginning it was my sheer determination, my “do or die” approach that meant I’d scratch and claw my way to success, regardless of what it took. However, that’s not sustainable long term and not a route I’d recommend now! I asked my husband what he thought made my business successful and he said – my honest approach, transparency and willingness to share. What it really comes down to I think is that I love horses so deeply and to help them, I must help people. And I empathize with folks who are going through the same struggles I once did and who are also committed to continual personal development for themselves and their horses. My ideal customer is an earlier version of me. Although I have had numerous great mentors over the years, and even though I really applied myself and left no stone left unturned, I needed help and direction and resources that weren’t available. So that’s why I’m committed to sharing my experiences. I can’t not overcome obstacles without also having a natural and overwhelming urge to help others do the same. Business success is an inevitable matter of time when your heart is in the right place, your intentions are true, you have a compelling “WHY,” and you’re open to learning and willing to keep making any necessary adjustments to keep moving forward.
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