Friday, April 15, 2011

A Horse Treat Business is Born

Erica, a 2011 graduate from Westport, Connecticut USA, loves horses and baking. She combined her loves and a business was born. Read on!

     "One day, shortly before Valentine’s Day, my mom and I stopped into Earth Animal, a boutique that sells all natural pet food and supplies, because I wanted to buy some of the frosted Valentine’s Day themed shaped cookies for my horse, Casey. As I was paying for the cookies, I struck up a conversation with the manager, telling him that my horse absolutely loves the frosted cookies, and that’s why I buy them for him. The manager explained to me that he has often turned away other horse owners that came in looking for actual horse treats, because they didn’t sell them. I told him that I bake treats for my horse, using all natural ingredients. Upon hearing that I made homemade horse treats, the manager told me that if I baked a few of my horse treats, he would possibly sell them for me.
    "I returned home, overjoyed. I decided on the recipes I was going to bake and made a shopping list for the ingredients needed, then went shopping at the grocery store. Two days later, I had all 5 horse treat recipes baked. After allowing the treats to “cure” overnight, I packaged them up in glass mason jars with bright red lids. I attached a cute red and white label tag and tied it to the jars with red and white dotted ribbon. I then arranged the jars in a white wire basket, lined with a red and white checked cloth. I typed a short product description, printed it and displayed it in the basket along with the jars.
    "When I walked into the store carrying the basket of nicely displayed treats, the manager took one look at it and fell in love with it.  I brought my basket of goodies over to the counter and he was so impressed, not only with the quality of the treats, but also with the packaging and display. He readily agreed to sell them in the store for me. He then went on to ask me many questions, such as how much it cost me to make them, and how much profit I needed to make. He also asked me how I was going to keep the treats fresh and from getting moldy in the packaging, and suggested those silica gel packets to remove excess moisture, due to the fact that my treats contain apples, molasses, and other foods that are moist in nature.
All of his questions made me realize that while I’m a great baker, I had not considered turning that hobby into a business before he suggested selling my horse treats. I now realize that I need to research and consider many new factors. I realize that I need to begin to talk with other business people who have experience and expertise in the areas of marketing, production and distribution, profit margins and other business factors that I know nothing about and have rarely considered. And so, while this is a very exciting proposition, I also realize that I have a very big learning curve ahead of me as I travel down this new path. Where it will ultimately lead, I cannot say at this point. However, I am beyond excited at the prospect of possibly turning a hobby of mine into a profitable business endeavor.
    "The Chinese philosopher Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I am hoping that this will be a reality in my life, whatever job I choose. Who knows, perhaps it will be a horse treat business!"

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