In this week’s ‘a few minutes with’, I caught up with Ruth Chappell from Dressage Anywhere. Dressage Anywhere brings dressage competitions to you as you can record your test and then enter ‘proper’ competitions online. Tests and judged, prizes are awarded… and you don’t need to leave your arena. I’ve known Ruth for years and have admired Dressage Anywhere for a very long time- it’s a really lovely, professional company run by genuinely nice people. Ticks all round!
Tell us about you and your background
I’ve had a successful career in publishing. When I finished my A-levels all those many moons ago I didn’t really have a clue about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I’d had a passion for horses most of my life and had been very lucky to work with them and have some great rides but I couldn’t see how I could turn that into a career at the time. I liked being creative and so opted for a hands-on media degree that introduced me to the world of printing, publishing and media production.
What made you want to start a business?
It wasn’t so much starting a business that was a driver, it was designing and delivering a service that would enable other people to take part in competitive dressage. I started Dressage Anywhere with two business partners and it ran alongside my main full time job. Over time I realised I had to decide about the future of Dressage Anywhere – I couldn’t continue both and so in 2015 I left my role to focus solely on Dressage Anywhere.
How is your business different?
Dressage Anywhere is different because we’re about creating opportunities for riders to achieve their goals. We want to make competitive dressage accessible to everyone around the world and provide access to the best judges. We have great relationships with all the governing bodies, this was something that was very important to us when we set the business up.
What makes your service special?
Our service is special because we only work with BD List 1, 2 and FEI judges making sure that the feedback our riders receive is consistent and we’re the only service running online dressage competitions that enables riders to download their scoresheets. Sometimes tests are judged within hours of videos being uploaded!
If you had to sum up your business in five words, what would they be?
Ingenious, innovative, credible, reliable, evolving
Do you have a motto or ethos?
It has to be our passion to create opportunities for all kinds of riders.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?
Set goals – don’t just go into business and let it bumble along, you’ll be in for some nasty surprises if you do. Have a really clear idea of where you want to get to and break it down into realistic and achievable goals that you can hold yourself accountable to.
One thing that helps you run your business more effectively
I love all things tech related and I’m a long term user of Trello to help organise and plan so many different areas of the business, whether its planning a new marketing campaign, day to day operations or planning the next new development. A few years ago I went back to the dark side of paper and use the Ink & Volt Planner and Daily Greatness Journal Business Planner to keep me on track. There’s just something about writing things down that makes it easier to connect with your thoughts.
Best thing about running a business?
I work long hours but I love the flexibility of running my own business. I used to ride my horse after work and wouldn’t be home for dinner before 9pm. Now I take a quick break in the afternoon and get to ride in daylight all year round!
Worst thing about running a business?
Funnily enough, it has to be the flexibility! Some people assume that because you run your own business you’re a lady of leisure (I wish!) and so can squeeze in a lunch or are free to talk on the phone at any time.
Top business blog you follow
I follow a mixture of Facebook pages and blogs so I can’t pick just one out! Grant Cardone is great at motivating me to apply 10X rules, Amy Porterfield is just lovely! I often listen to her podcasts in the car and she has a really honest and sensible view of social media marketing. I’m a member of Bigger Brighter Bolder Success Groups which focusses on developing the right mindset for running a business. George Swift is an absolute legend and I love his straight-talking approach.
Top business book you’ve read
Grant Cardone’s 10X book (I’ve got the audio version) is a super no nonsense kick up the behind! I’m not a big fan of phrases like go big or go home, I much prefer to go big, learn from it and keep going and Grant Cardone’s book is all about taking ‘massive action’ and dominating.
One thing we might not know about you
I won a holiday to Tenerife in the Manchester Evening News’ Bonnie Baby Competition!
Top business achievement
I can’t talk about some of them just yet but let’s just say that this year is going to be a whopper! One memorable moment was seeing the reaction of one of our RDA Online Dressage Champions as he was called up to receive his medal and rosette at the RDA National Championships last year. He literally jumped up, was fist pumping the air and the buzz in the room was incredible. I was so proud of him and very humbled that I help make that happen. Oh, I’ve just thought of another! An invitation to the Anne Diamond Show at BBC Radio Berkshire and a fabulous interview about Dressage Anywhere.
Where can people follow you or your business online (website, social media handles, etc)
Image by Karen Bennett Pet Photography