Five prominent female entrepreneurs in the equine industry spoke at the US Equestrian Annual Meeting on Wednesday, January 9, for the panel Building a Successful Equestrian Business, presented in partnership with the Equestrian Businesswomen (EQBW) Summit. Jennifer Wood of EQBW led the panel discussion with Lisa Roskens from International Omaha, Lisa Lourie from Spy Coast Farm, Alexandra Cherubini from EquiFit, inc., Noel Asmar from Asmar Equestrian, and dressage Olympian Ashley Holzer.
The panelists’ depth of experience and insight provided for both an inspirational and a richly educational forum. From discussing the economic impact of equestrian sport in the United States to lessons learned in hiring and managing a team, you can watch the full session on demand with USEF Network.
Offering many words of advice and anecdotes for their success, several common themes resonated with each of the leaders.
Be true to your brand
“Stay authentic, don’t be sidelined by all the noise. Great entrepreneurs are very in tune to their sixth sense, and when we lose track of that because everybody is telling us what to do and we think that they know our business better than we do, we start to look like everybody else.” –Noel Asmar
“In the [FEI] World Cup™ Finals we had a lot of things that we thought, ‘This is going to be great,’ and we’d sit down and talk with vendors or sponsors or the FEI, and they’d tell us all the reasons that idea [wouldn’t work]. So we can’t go that way, but how can we achieve whatever goal we had and how can we accomplish it in another way?” –Lisa Roskens
“When you get young horses and they do look like they have a lot of potential, you do have to have the horses in mind, whether it truly is the best for the horse in the long run. … They can also exceed expectations. … You have to be malleable and always thinking what’s best for the horse and having your training program adapt.” –Ashley Holzer
It’s all about the journey
“You have to find the fun of your job. You have to love the process. If you’re just in it to win a medal, you’re likely going to be disappointed. I have to enjoy the process of breeding horses to succeed.” –Lisa Lourie
“Many ideas come from sitting at the schooling ring, watching, or spending time at people’s barns and observing how people work in their space. We always keep our eyes and ears open and learn from our surroundings. We look for problems to solve and existing solutions that can be improved upon.” –Alexandra Cherubini
“It’s important to understand that retreat is a strategy sometimes, it’s not necessarily a failure. Really, sometimes it’s there to point you in a better direction. … Don’t be afraid to say, ‘Oops,’ but then stop and say, ‘How can I stop and get something out of this experience?’” –Lisa Roskens
“Actively seek other profit centers. I’m always looking to expand and improve profitability and support the necessary training center.” –Lisa Lourie
“I’ve been in the sport long enough to know that it really is the path, it’s the journey. It’s great to win a medal, but it’s so temporary, I can’t tell you. You have to enjoy what you do every day and giving your horses the best education you can every day.” –Ashley Holzer
Work with the right people
“It’s easy for us to focus on what we’re good at. If you can start to take a hard look at yourself and say, ‘This is my sweet spot,’ I’d say pay attention to what you don’t know how to do. Go find the best people you can to plug the holes in your skillset. Because if you don’t do that, your competitors will.” –Lisa Roskens
“If you’re taking a look at various industries and what they mean in terms of economic impact to a country, for the United States the equestrian industry has a $122 billion economic impact, and the golf industry has $84 billion. But if you look at the golf industry, how can we learn from them? We need to get out there and be talking to people from other industries, sharing information.” –Noel Asmar
“I decided that I was going to build the breeding industry in the U.S. But I knew at that time it was going to take a lot of time, money, effort, and people, and I built a really great team. And that in and of itself is a great reward, to give people the tools to do their job. You have to trust your people to do their jobs well.” –Lisa Lourie
The horse connects us
“Horses make me a better person. I love horses, I love the sport, and so does my team. Our love for horses drives us to make the best products.” –Alexandra Cherubini
“We have an amazing community. Equestrian is very diversified, everyone is doing different things, so the one unifying thing we have is that we love the horse. That’s pretty unique and special, giving us the ability to market to a niche audience.” –Noel Asmar
“You have to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the sport.” –Lisa Lourie
“The people I work with share the same beliefs I have. They love their horses, they show up with passion, they show up with conviction, and they share the same idea of success that I share.” –Ashley Holzer
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