Good horsemanship is built on solid basics…so is good business!
I’d like to introduce you to Melissa Hamlett. I’ve been working with her in a coaching capacity since February as part of my Penniless Philanthropy program. Melissa has tons of energy and a very clear vision of what she wants to accomplish. She also has identified key start-up milestones to take her where she wants to go to get her business off the ground.
Melissa formed Unbridled Potential, LLC in December 2011. She has been a clinical social worker for over ten years in her community, has had horses all her life, and has been volunteering for close to two years at the closest therapeutic riding program. Even at that, it is over an hour away! Incredibly, she has been working on building her own business for the past 6 years. Melissa shares, “I’ve been doing this slowly, researching the field, networking with others, working with a NH Small Business Development consultant, among other things. I am a member of PATH International and an instructor in training. My program will be the first PATH International center in northern New Hampshire.”
I can tell you that Melissa is thorough and she absorbs information and experience like a sponge when it comes to developing her business. This is a very exciting time for her, though it also has its frustrations. Because Melissa has been working at this for awhile, now that it’s gaining momentum it can be hard to bump into a temporary yield, go back, or dead end sign. Yet, she is very practical in her acceptance that it means she should re-examine a concept or redirect. And ultimately she is finding that the entire process is honing her concept in a way that really suits her location, community, skills, family needs and vision.
We’ve discussed a variety of topics in the past 6 weeks: review of business plan under construction, pluses and minuses of properties she has evaluated for purchasing for her business, what form her business should take, assembling a team of advisors, and we’re starting to discuss marketing.
I’ll keep you updated about some of these elements as we go along. For starters, let’s talk about her business plan. Melissa is working with a SBDC consultant on her financials, and also is taking a course for entrepreneurs at Women’s Rural Enterprise Network. She is utilizing these opportunities to their maximum extent. They are providing her with the tools to write her business plan and develop her business, as well as a network of professionals that can help with marketing, legal and other core business needs. For this part of our work together, I’m providing review of the plan to provide horse industry feedback. Since this is her first business and she is applying for a loan, Melissa has concerns about whether she’ll be approved or not. We’ve talked about the fact that banks are risk averse and like it better if you have a track record, or if you have made some sales or not. I encouraged Melissa to gather letters of support to provide as part of her application to show that there is demand that isn’t being met, which she is doing. She has two agencies that are doing for this for her, which lends a great deal of credibility to her venture. Lots of people skip over business planning. Melissa has found this to an extremely informative and valuable process that is helping her to really give shape to her vision and dream.