Building Your Business Plan in the Equine Industry: Vision Boards

Do you have a plan for your business?

If you said no, then you’re probably in the same place I was just a few months ago.

Several months back, I got the crazy idea to start a business (Writing Dressage is only a teeny part of said business). At first, I was like “Yes! This is the best idea ever!” Then came the reality check: yeah, I needed a plan.

My memories of business plans were pretty… unpleasant, to say the least. I can thank college for that. But, I can also thank college for bestowing upon me the great yet burdensome knowledge that business plans are crazy important if you want to succeed in business.

While business plans generally follow the same basic format, their specific details vary from business to business, depending on what model you follow, what your strategies are, blah blah blah.

So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to help you guys figure out exactly what it is you NEED to have in your business plans, what you SHOULD have, what you could include if you really wanted to, and what you can totally omit. Each lesson will follow along in a workbook that will be available next week and end with actionable steps that are so much less terrifying than college made me think they were.

When you’re done, you’ll have a complete business plan that you can use to give your business the kick in the pants it needs to succeed.

Let’s get to work!

FIRST LESSON: The Vision Board

Man, oh man, I wish we had done this in college. If you’re not familiar with vision boards, they’re amazing and super fun to put together. Basically, they’re a collage of words and pictures that embody what you want to be/do/achieve over the next year.

You can include pretty much anything you want on them, too, which means hello, shiny things!

Rather than start you off with ye olde mission statement, I decided to start off with the vision board because, at its roots, the things on your vision board are your personal why. They’re the reasons you do what you do. Whether you just want to put a little extra money in your pocket to pay for your costly horse (ahem…) or put a lot of extra money away to buy a plot of land with enough room for your costly horse to play around in (ahemmm), those things are your motivation for getting up and working your butt off every day.

(That said, this doesn’t go in your actual business plan. Your vision board is for your personal benefit only.)

Before we get into the how of putting together a vision board, let’s talk about what goes into it.

Begin by downloading this short, handy booklet I put together for you and answering the questions as in-depth as possible to help you really gain some clarity. 

Now that you’ve answered those questions, the fun begins!

Step 1: Collect your materials.

What you choose to use depends on your personal preferences. Some people choose to stick with the basic poster board and magazine clippings. Others, like me, get a little carried away. Here’s what I used:

  • Large picture frame (I used a poster frame from Walmart)
  • Quotes (designed using Canva, which I love)
  • Washi tape (I love metallic stuff)
  • Stamps
  • Scrapbooking embellishments
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

All in all, this project cost me about $30, which isn’t bad compared to some of the collages I put together in my younger years. I had a lot of these materials already, though, so remember that you can use what you’ve already got at home to save some money.

As you’re gathering your pictures, magazine clippings, and quotes, keep your answers to your questions in mind. Everything you put on your vision board should relate to and align with at least one of your goals, but I suggest finding items that relate to/align with more than one goal at once.

Additional ideas for materials:

  • Markers
  • Paint
  • Stickers
  • Postcards
  • Duct tape (the colorful stuff!)
  • Rhinestones or other shiny bits
  • And literally anything else that embodies who you are, what you do, and where you want to be

Step 2: Settle on a design.

One of the things I personally decided to do this year was choose a theme word. Essentially, I chose a word that I want to model my year around, a word that I’ll use as guidance as I move through the inevitable chaos of 2017. I chose courage as my word as it embodies the mindset I need to have as I work toward everything I want to achieve this year both personally and professionally.

With this in mind, I designed my board in a starburst pattern with my word in the middle and everything else emanating out from it. You can do the same thing, or go in a million other directions. The possibilities are totally endless!

 My vision board. Will it work? We'll find out a year from now!

My vision board. Will it work? We'll find out a year from now!


Step 3: Arrange your materials.

Before you permanently adhere anything, arrange it first! I like to do this because it allows me to play around with how I want things to look before committing. Plus, it’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle, and I used to love those as a kid. #nerdalert

Be purposeful about how you arrange your vision board. Use the rule of threes or use your materials to draw your eye to what you want to focus on most. No matter how you arrange it, remember that it’s for your benefit. If you don’t love it, well, what’s the point?

Step 4: Commit.

By putting everything together permanently with glue or tape, you’re committing to that particular item for the next year. Every time you stick something to your vision board, let yourself enjoy the excitement and the sheer sense of possibility. You can totally do this.

And wham, just like that, you’ve got yourself a vision board!

Step 5: Hang it up.

This is, without a doubt, the most important step. The key to the vision board is that it’s a visual representation of your goals for the next year, but if you don’t see it every day and remind yourself of your goals, you risk things getting lost in the hustle. Keep your vision board somewhere you can see it, preferably hanging at eye level somewhere in your house or office that you visit frequently.

I chose to hang mine up in my bedroom on the back of my door because I close my door when I’m working, which makes it an ideal place to hang.

If you still want more info on what exactly a vision board is, what goes into making one, how to make one, etc., then head to makeavisionboard.com for all the answers.

Next week, we’re diving into business models! (It’s a lot more fun than it sounds, I promise!)

I'm curious, though... who out there has tried a vision board in the past? Was it successful for you? If you haven't tried a vision board yet, what's keeping you from doing so? Let's chat in the comments!

Read the rest of the posts in the series:

  1. Building Your Business Plan: Vision Boards (that's this one!)
  2. Building Your Business Plan: Business Models
  3. Building Your Business Plan: Business Plan Must-Haves
  4. Building Your Business Plan: Business Plan Additions
  5. Building Your Business Plan: Keeping It Legal

P.S. Don't forget to share this post with your friends!

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” That quote used to drive me NUTS when I was younger. Still does sometimes, if I’m being honest, but that’s irrelevant because it’s just that accurate when it comes to running a business. Without a solid plan in place, the chances of success become scarce. The first step in planning is being able to envision your end goal, that elusive thing you want to be/do/achieve at the end. No matter what you’re doing, you need a vision for the future. That’s why I decided to start off the new year and my new series on business planning with a vision board, something that so many other entrepreneurs swear by. Click the pin to read about how to set up a vision board and what all went into mine.