Three to four months ago, there was no way of knowing how our lives would change in such a short amount of time. 2020 started and life was carrying on as normal. Some people forget that life was not put on pause in the months following up to COVID-19. Therefore, businesses still had their opening days, and people followed their dreams with big expectations for the future. For my family, we simply decided to get into a very expensive business at what turned out to be a very bad time.
My mom had always been involved in the equestrian business and my dad has experience in insurance. Early 2020, they decided that they wanted to do something that they had wanted to for a long time: lease out a small spot in a barn, buy a few horses, and create their own LLC. This in itself was risky to do, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic that soon became apparent. They created a business plan, and found that for the first few years of the business, essentially all of the money that was made from the business would have to be poured back into the business to pay off the cost of the horses and equipment necessary, along with other expenses.
Everything was bought and official in early February. The business was set to open to the public on March 1, but the connections that my mom already had, from previously being employed at another barn, paid off. Inquiries for lessons and training began pouring in shortly after the horses were bought and they had an LLC. So, the business opened to the public mid-February and luckily, was able to make money for a little over a full month before everyone’s lives were turned upside down and social distancing guidelines were put in place. Non-essential businesses were closed and what seemed like success was put to an abrupt halt. Luckily, in that month, the business was able to obtain three clients that now board their horses under my family’s care. These boarders still have to pay for the care of their horses, and a couple weeks ago, the property owners let us know that people could come ride their own horses, and therefore, my mom was able to start teaching a few lessons to people on their own horses. However, the flow of income is obviously nowhere near to where the business plan had originally hoped for. Had it not been for my dad’s already existing job at an insurance company, it would have been much more difficult for my family.
Helping out in a family business that is so hands-on is strange at this unique time. Just because the business is “closed” does not mean everything about the business gets put on pause. Every morning, the horses have to be fed grain, put outside and fed hay. All of their water buckets are then dumped, scrubbed, and filled with clean water. Their stalls also have to be cleaned. Then, around the middle of the day, they have to be fed lunch hay. In the evening, they have to be brought inside and fed dinner hay and grain. Their paddocks also have to be cleaned regularly, their outdoor water buckets have to be cleaned regularly, and if there is expected to be a temperature change overnight, their blankets/ sheets must be switched so they are not too hot or cold. I, of course, still have online school everyday, but I sometimes go on the weekends to help, my mom goes nearly everyday, and my dad works on Sundays, along with going throughout the week with her to help out, and fix things around the barn that the horses break.
All of this is hard work, regardless of the situation we are in. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work often seems pointless, knowing that the business cannot gain traction right now, and we are stuck at a standstill. We only hope that this will all be a memory before we know it, and my family’s dream can continue to succeed. To have the success of such a big goal dangled in front of you, and then taken away, and in turn, given all the financial difficulties that come with this pandemic, is heart-breaking. That is why it’s so important to support local businesses right now.
Even though my family’s situation is unique in the sense that it’s difficult for us to find ways that the general public can help us right now, it has certainly opened our eyes to what it is really like to be a local business. We understand just how important it is to support local businesses right now, because we understand how difficult it really is to have all your goals suddenly put to a stop, but to have to continue to work just as hard, simply to stay afloat. Obviously everyone is struggling right now because we are dealing with a situation that we have not had to deal with in the modern age. When people say “support local businesses,” they are not undermining your experience with COVID-19, but instead, highlighting a very important issue that COVID-19 has raised. Supporting your local business could make a really big difference in someone’s life, even if it doesn’t affect your life at all. The only way we’re going to get through this is if we think as one, rather than an “every man for himself” mentality. If we unite and help each other out, we’ll all come back stronger on the other side.