The facts:
Over 50% of farms have some form of diversification
97% that have diversified are seeing profits

However, it must be said that learning from other farmers experiences demonstrates that the first movers would have done differently, namely:

  1. Get more financial planning and advice at start.
  2. Use a lawyer to draw up contracts and not relied on handshakes!
  3. Employ a project manager (depending on the scale of the project).
  4. Contracted out the farm business to allow them to concentrate on the new enterprise.
  5. Put more time and consideration into researching finance options.

(Source: Farmers Weekly)

Interestingly all five of these distractions could have been avoided by using an experienced, hands on and focussed consultant to take these issues off the table.

Another list highlights concern among farmers about diversification, the top 5 challenges being:

  1. Funding
  2. Difficulty with planning permission
  3. Cost of planning permission
  4. Lack of training
  5. Market considerations (e.g. not suitable location of business)

(Source: Farmers Weekly)

Our story:
When we set up our business, we bought a disused and ramshackle dairy farm that was no longer suitable for dairy use. We wrote a detailed business plan, including a marketing plan that demonstrated the market existed for our services and set about gaining funding from a bank. We then approached a number of lenders who were impressed with our detailed financial planning and chose the most suitable option for our business.

Changing an existing farm into an equestrian business did require planning permission and change of use, but the council were sympathetic because the use of the facilities was not changing markedly. A wise choice of planner proved essential and the consent was passed without objection. The planning application took some time and money of course, but without constant toing and froing some applicants experience costs were kept to a minimum.

Finally, good legal advice gave us the permanent peace of mind that we have made a secure and lasting transaction without any surprises.

The hard work, application, dedication and devotion to the business started from then on! So always test your personal enthusiasm and commitment before you embark on any project of this nature, then double it!

But with careful planning and research and the help of good advisers, at least we started on a sound footing.

The experiences and challenges detailed above can be knocked off one by one removing any worries or concerns before you start your new venture so good advice is worth paying for!

But when we started there was no help anywhere, from anyone in the riding centre market. A few marketing people but no real insider business knowledge specifically for riding establishments. Contact us now because now there is

Equine Business Consultancy can provide advice and guidance on all matters relating to setting up or developing a livery yard or riding centre on your farm.

Our intention is to publish a series of blogs and articles outlining these and other key strategies for equine farm business innovation & diversification. Why would I do this? Because over the last seven years, my wife Jo and I have built up what we think is a very successful enterprise that we are proud of called Rein and Shine Equestrian Centre. We made our own mistakes and learnt a lot on the way.