My name is Michael Cruciotti, I am the owner of MAC Sports International—an equestrian consulting, advertising, and media production firm. Over the past 8 years, we've collaborated with numerous equestrian brands, associations, startups, farms, trainers, athletes, and individuals, aiding them in business growth, reaching new audiences, and crafting that elusive online brand.
Through these years, one crucial lesson has stood out: the significance of your network. Whether you're selling advertising, developing a website, or marketing a horse, a robust network makes life easier and propels you closer to your goals. Contemplating the importance of networks led me to compile a list of tips for future marketers, equestrian business owners, and those building their online brand. Today, I wanted to share "My" top 5 Equestrian Business Hacks to assist in growing your horsey business.
Network - It is not just about who you know, but who knows you!
Early on, a mentor shared invaluable advice: "It's not just about who you know, but who knows you!" In today's world, this holds truer than ever. While knowing many people is beneficial, reflecting on how many know you reshapes your perspective.
Consider this: When reaching out to a potential client, there are two scenarios—cold calls and warm calls. Cold calls are challenging; the person has no prior knowledge of you. Warm calls, on the other hand, stem from prior contact or a referral within your network. Which scenario would you prefer? A rhetorical question.
For a warm call to occur, your network must be substantial. Whether you're starting out or a seasoned equestrian professional, engage in the community, attend horse shows, trade shows, or events. Connect with people, share your story, learn theirs, and forge genuine relationships. Implementing this will yield results. You don't have to be best friends with everyone, but establishing a working relationship enhances your chances of a common contact when making that sales call.
Be Enthusiastic - Trust Me it is Contagious!
Who would you rather spend time with: the person who's quiet, always down, and gives off an "anywhere but here" vibe, or the one with a big smile, pep in their step, and infectious enthusiasm? I bet you'd pick the latter every time. If so, be that person!
Much in the horse world is beyond our control—the horse's feelings, the client's day. What we can control is the effort and enthusiasm we bring. It's tough to be enthusiastic daily, especially amid challenges. Yet, answering a client's call with genuine enthusiasm can leave a lasting impression, fostering a strong working relationship and showing you care.
Trust me, embracing this approach will not only grow your business but also transform your entire perspective.
Learn to do Things Others Don't Want to Do
If you're reading this, you're aware that not every aspect of your business is glamorous. Some tasks downright suck. If you own a horse training business, you understand the grind of mixing grain daily, cleaning stalls, only to have a horse poop right after. In the marketing world, it's akin to building mundane websites or crafting the 100th generic product post. Not enjoyable, but they carry immense value.
Why? Because no one else wants to do them!
There's a compelling story from my football days about a coach who, in his early career, took note of tasks others avoided. Starting as an assistant coach in college football meant reviewing and labeling film, and doing whatever the head coach delegated. Recognizing the value of tackling the undesirable tasks head-on, he made himself indispensable to the team. When it came time for promotions or other programs seeking coaches, he was at the top of the list. His reputation for not taking shortcuts and tackling the tough stuff set him apart.
This lesson applies to your journey as well. Excel at tasks no one else wants to do. Someone will always come looking for someone with the expertise to handle those tasks, making you indispensable.
There's No Such Thing As Over Communication
Yes, you probably just read this and skipped over it, thinking, "Well, duh, of course, it's important to communicate. Who doesn't do that, right?" The reality is that more people than you think lack the necessary communication skills for success in their professional careers.
As I advanced in my professional journey, I realized the increasing importance of over-communicating. I'm not advocating for being annoying or pestering; that's not the message. What I mean is ensuring that you communicate crucial information swiftly and intelligently. This involves keeping everyone on the same page—whether it's conveying strategy to employees, updating clients and investors, or notifying everyone that you won't be in the office today due to a cold.
In my football days, we had a saying: "A message before is a reason; a message after is an excuse." Whether it's updating a client on a horse's performance, delivering the monthly analytic report on time, or informing an investor about quarterly revenue, these actions significantly impact your success.
Make over-communicating a habit in all aspects of your business, and you'll reap the rewards. It demonstrates to your employees, clients, future clients, and investors that you can be relied upon and trusted.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
This might be the most crucial tip on the list, and it's also the most challenging. As a business owner, you're likely stubborn, thinking you can figure it out on your own. I'm here to tell you that you can't, and you shouldn't.
The individuals you encounter in your journey—mentors, friends, clients, family, and colleagues—want to see you succeed, and all it takes is a simple ask. However, there's a fine line between asking for help and taking advantage. When I started in the horse industry, I knew very few people. My mother and sister were well-known, but I wasn't. So what did I do? I asked a client to take me around the horse show and introduce me to people he knew—a simple yet profound gesture. The client, a dispatcher for a major horse transportation company, knew everyone. Him saying hello to each friend/client was as crucial as introducing me to them (referencing hack number one: your network). This played a vital role in launching my business.
I could elaborate on the numerous people who helped me reach where I am, and I can genuinely say I wouldn't be here without them.
Starting and managing your own business is a formidable challenge. Whether it's a horse business, a marketing venture, or an ecommerce endeavor, it demands an incredible amount of work, faith, and a touch of luck. I hope that these five business hacks can assist you in your entrepreneurial journey.
Now, it's your turn. I'm eager to hear your story. If any of these five aspects have influenced your journey, share it here, and I'll feature it. We're all in this together!