Sometimes businesses work forwards and backwards, this has been the case with Small Hooves, Big Hearts. We got the horses without having the business plan in place. Now I am a huge proponent of learning being life long and evolutionary. Last year I returned to Wilfrid Laurier on a grant to take part in a Social Enterprise program. While there, I learned something new. I have always created traditional business plans, pages and pages of statistics, forecasting, analysis, I learned to use a lean business model. Now I know, lean business models have been around since 2008, but I never really used one, because I think I really like paperwork. Letting go and venturing into a bootstrap unknown was both thrilling and struck me with anxiety.
In the business model is a section for unfair advantage. Now at the risk of sounding like I am drinking our own koolaid, this seems like an easy thing to write. We have the horses, Red is really well trained, the others are coming, we have the contacts, but as I ventured further into this enterprise and one reason we decided to hold off on moving forward until next spring, we need policies in place. We are bringing 250lb animals into nursing homes and day centres, these animals can kick, they can bite, they can carry diseases and the whole world is waking up to the concept of liability. How do we protect everyone?
The devil is in the details and it is our unique and unfair advantage.
- We are fully insured – this is no mean feat and it is very expensive. There is one company we could find willing to take us on.
- All of our personnel over the age of 18 have up to date vulnerable sector clearance
- Our animals are fully vaccinated and Coggins tested, they are up to date on worming and parasite control
- Our horses have been worked with thoroughly and tested to be safe
- Policies, we have policies on bio-security, privacy for our volunteers, for our website, mutual NDAs and general business policies. We have photo releases, contracts and liability forms.
- We are Federally Incorporated, this is so, should we choose to expand the program, we can do so. This also requires a unique set of reporting procedures.
- Compliance, we have researched every aspect of the business and it’s need for compliance. Our trailer is safe, it is safetied annually, our truck and trailer is driven by someone with a Class A license. The animals are fit and healthy, hand washing, bio-security, accounting for nonprofits, business practices, we have researched everything. This is not just for us, it is to protect you, the general public.
- Channel partners, we are very careful who we align ourselves with. Equine Facilitated Wellness Canada, we can attend seminars, to further our work and develop deeper bonds with our horses. Miniature Horse Association of Ontario, they promote responsible breeding, sanction shows, both of which are wonderful opportunities for our young handlers to learn more.
We are leaving nothing to chance. We want our board, our patrons and our horses protected and at times it might seem like overkill, but the devil is in the details and I love details.