If you missed the inaugural Equestrian Businesswomen Summit that took place last Wednesday in West Palm Beach, here it is in a nutshell.

Keynote: Tracey Noonan, CEO and Co-Founder of Wicked Good Cupcakes

My first thought, prior to the Summit, was “What can we possibly learn from a cupcake company?” but you should never underestimate anyone whose corporate bio lists “playing the drums and ukulele” as hobbies. Beyond hardcore business lessons, Tracey Noonan’s story was deeply personal. Filled with family tragedy, financial hardship and triumph, her speech was motivational in the ‘wow, if someone can get though all THAT, I can certainly get through X, Y, Z” sense. In a nutshell: Even if you hit rock bottom, there is a way out. Really. After each setback, pick up the pieces and keep going.

Next up: Balance panel

One word: GUILT. Why do women feel so much guilt all the time? Of not working enough, not spending enough time with their family/horse/you name it. Women are pulled in 25 different directions and feel like they are constantly coming up short. Beyond prioritizing and organization, there is really no magic formula that is going to bring balance in women’s lives without a major shift in culture. A young woman in the audience mentioned she had to work long hours and didn’t have time to ride because the corporate culture made her feel that someone was always ready to take her place. So while there were some great tips from the panelists, balance is part of a wider conversation. Society needs to be more supportive of women. It is not normal that going to a golf tournament is considered ‘legit work’ but a woman leaving early to pick up her children from school is perceived as a liability. Thankfully, those of us in positions of leadership can make a difference in our businesses.

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One tip from Hylofit co-founder and dressage trainer, Eliane van Reesema, was to “hire people who have the same passion as you do”. Even when she was away from the barn, Eliane said she knew her horses were receiving great care because her staff has the same love for the horses than she does. In a nutshell: Make lists, take time for yourself and hire good people that you can trust. But even then, balance is hard.

Béatrice de Lavalette

Béatrice was critically injured and lost both her legs at 17 in the terrorist bombing of the Brussels Airport in 2016. An avid equestrian, her horse helped her recover – physically and emotionally – and she became a para dressage rider. Her story was very emotional to say the least (I cried a couple of times), but it was also hopeful. In a nutshell: “Surround yourself by people who believe in you”. Don’t give up.  Also, para dressage rocks.

Jobs panel

This panel was more than simply explaining jobs. It was as much about the principles that guided each panelists’ career. For example, Donna Barton Brothers’ attention to detail (“The way you do anything is the way you do everything”), and Dr. Torri Maxwell’s focus on personal brand that helped her build her business credentials to successfully transition from a vet practice to working for a pharmaceutical company. In a nutshell: The horse industry is diverse. Build your personal brand. Pharma pays really well.


Social media panel

The best one! (Just kidding).  Here is a copy of the slides that accompanied our presentation. We discussed social media trends: the decline of organic reach, the rise of Instagram stories, a shake up in influencer marketing and the deficit of attention as more people are tuning out. We provided solutions to Understanding your audience with metrics, being creative and engaging in a meaningful way are key. To turn followers into clients, brands must have clear goals and plan the customer journey, integrating calls to action regularly. Social media is one part of your marketing plan, it all begins with branding and creating a product or service that people care about. Inserting talk triggers in the product or the service delivery is how you get user-generated content (for example: Starbucks writing each customer’s name on their cup).  In a nutshell: Create a strong brand, be creative, engage in a meaningful way, plan and measure.

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We also shared our favourite apps:
Photo Editing:Snapseed
Scheduling:Buffer
Creative:Canva
Social:Instagram
Plan: Planoly

Building a Successful Equestrian Business panel

This is a very wide topic so I’ll go straight to the takeaways. In a nutshell: Know why you do things. Know what you don’t know. Create profit centres in your business. Fire people fast!

Noel Asmar shared these resources:

EOS Worldwide – Tools for Entrepreneurs

Bamboo HR – To automize operational tasks.

And that’s a wrap. You can sign up for a digital ticket and get the videos of the presentations, but it’s an event you should put on your calendar in 2020. If you have any questions or you’d like to connect, feel free to email me.