Working For Success
By Dave Farley

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I had been shoeing for more than twelve years when I realized I needed to make some changes in my business. For a long time I thought that I was making money if I had money in my checking account and some cash in my pocket. I was working hard, but couldn’t seem to make it to the next level where I had enough money to buy a better vehicle, buy a home and put some money into savings.

I started looking around at some people who I thought were successful. These are some of the things they had in common.

  • A vision and or a business plan.
  • Worked toward perfection.
  • Hired good employees.
  • Good at delegating.
  • Continued their education.
  • Good communicators.
  • Good organization.

They also had another thing in common – they all had a good accountant. A good accountant can be invaluable in helping you develop a business plan and figure out exactly what you need to reach your financial goals.

My accountant first helped me to understand what it cost me to shoe a horse. You will have to do this before you can do any serious planning. He factored in all the elements: vehicle and equipment expense, cost of supplies, cost of insurance, taxes, phone and all the other components of my business. In 1980 it was costing me $55 dollars to shoe a horse! The cost of shoeing a horse will obviously vary but you will be surprised when you work through all the costs you should consider. There is a very good CD available that is a “fill in the blank” program that calculates your actual cost – and can show you what happens if you make changes to any of the costs. If you are interested in this program contact Robert Whitworth of Elberton, Georgia. You can email him at or phone him at 770-843-4809.

Now that we worked through some costs and the accountant knew more about the variables we all have as farriers, we worked on a business plan. I found a plan has three purposes: communication, management and planning. The development of a plan forced me to precisely define my business and identify my goals.

Your goals will have a significant impact on your plan so think carefully about them. They will probably extend beyond a simple, “I want to shoe so many horses a day.” They will include how you want to live your life and what priorities you have – family, leisure time, and retirement (it’s never too early to start saving for retirement) and things that give you a sense of accomplishment. You can find a lot of information on business plans on the Internet or bookstores. A couple websites I found interesting and could be real helpful in getting started with your plan are and

It’s my belief that this business planning was a real turning point in my shoeing business. With a solid plan in hand and a good understanding of my costs, I was able to organize myself and my business to reach my personal and financial goals. This was a big step forward. We can talk in the future about other aspects of developing a successful farrier business, including working with your banker, structuring your business to work with other farriers and many other topics.

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