how to sniff out time wastersI know that most people have to deal with time wasters in their business… and I guess it’s part of it all. To be honest, I can usually spot them a mile off, and I don’t always mind. I regularly take calls from people who just want to pick my brains. I get it. I have questions pop through on social media and I don’t mind answering them when I can. But proper time wasters are different.

Are we thinking that time is money?

I would like to note here that it’s not about money. It might be for you but, for me, it’s a bit different. I have a number of lovely PR  social media and coaching clients who pay me. They have paid for my time. And I am sure you’re the same – you have people who pay for the service you offer, or frequent your shop/store regularly and purchase from you. These people, our customers, allow our businesses to exist and allow us to do what we love. So we need to treasure these people. So why should some people have to pay and others not? Is that showing our customers a lack of respect? Is it a bit like being an insurance company and offering a HUGE discount for a new customer as you shaft your old ones and don’t offer them the same discounts and rewards?

On top of this, it’s our time that is being used. Time is one resource we can’t buy more of. If it’s my time, I could be working on my own business, I could be walking the dog, playing with the children, keeping the house in order, doing some ‘life admin’… but this doesn’t seem to figure on some people’s radars. I, like the vast majority of the population, am a very busy person. And I like to be busy. I go above and beyond for my clients and I enjoy doing this. I love my job and the work I do. And I don’t want you to think otherwise. But as with any resource, time needs to be protected and looked after…

It’s more about respect… and it’s rarely deliberate or malicious

I appreciate that the goal posts change and that life moves on. And the lack of respect for your time or knowledge from the time waster is rarely deliberate. If ever, actually. But I’m going to share five ways to spot time wasters so you can conserve your most valuable resource and spend it where you want…

How to sniff out a time waster…

  • They’d like to work with you but…  I work with some of the most incredible people in this equestrian and country industry and one of the things that comes through time and again is the importance of honesty. If you want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, that’s absolutely fine too… just be straight with people. It saves everyone a lot of time.
  • They forget your sessions/appointment… they book, it’s sorted… and then you call at the allocated time and they’re not there. A while later it becomes apparent that they have completely forgotten the session/appointment. I’m lucky that this doesn’t happen very often at all, and I also charge for missed sessions when less than 24 hours notice is given.
  • There’s always a crisis… and you feel you need to help. As a people pleaser when someone sends me a ‘help’ message, I tend to respond. Well, at least I did. For clients, I’m all over it and I will help them solve it if I possibly can, but for people that have never even bothered to comment on a social media post? Umm. They’ll happily use my time and then carry on with their lives. Umm.
  • They start off chats with ‘I don’t have any money, but…’. That’s completely fine… I get that 100%. But maybe have a Google? I also have a lot of free resources out there – blogs, podcasts, free groups – use them as much as you like. Please. That’s why they’re there.
  • They don’t do as they say. One of the things about coaching is that if you don’t put the effort in – if you don’t do the work- nothing will change. And that’s true of life. The sad thing about this is time wasters aren’t just wasting your time, they’re wasting theirs too. Making progress isn’t just in the theory – if only- it’s in the action. Also be aware that if someone hasn’t done the work before and they’re promising you the moon on a stick, but a bit wary.

See, time wasters don’t just eat into my time, or your time, they’re eating into theirs as well.

Why have I shared this blog? Is it a rant?

No, it isn’t. These are things I have observed over the years. Some have happened to me, some haven’t, but they have to friends. The thing is, if you sharpen your identification skills when it comes to time wasters, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress. Being aware of what’s happening is half the battle. And if you want your year to be the most amazing ever, and to achieve your biggest goals, you’re going to need every space second to make that happen.

5 easy ways to use Instagram Stories


You’re in for a treat today! On this episode of the Small & Supercharged podcast we catch up with Ruth Chappell, the lady behind Dressage Anywhere. In addition to being a huge part of Dressage Anywhere, Ruth has a lot of strings to her bow. She’s an absolute superstar and is also a ‘tech wizard’. In this episode, we chat about how Ruth got to this point, the difficulties with running a digital, online equestrian business and more.

Let’s talk about online equestrian businesses and how to create a digital business, with Ruth Chappell – Dressage Anywhere

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 8 – online only equestrian businesses, how to deal with competition, cyber security and making a connection with customers…

  • Ruth talks about how she came to Dressage Anywhere, the online dressage platform
  • We talk about competition and how to deal with being the only online dressage company to how it is now.
  • We spoke about where the idea for Dressage Anywhere came from.
  • The benefits of an online business, the international appeal and global reach the business has.
  • How Dressage Anywhere actually works.
  • The limitations of being an online/digital business and how this can be quite challenging.
  • The opportunities that social media has presented for digital businesses.
  • Particular highlights including the Riding for the Disabled Association.
  • Some of the tools that Ruth uses to help run Dressage Anywhere effectively.
  • Social media content for digital businesses and how this can be used to help promote connection and business.
  • Finding friends and amazing connections through social media.
  • We talk about cyber security and data protection, and how that even a small business needs to be aware of this and understand the responsibilities connected to it.
  • And we talk about user experience, customer journey, automation, and balancing tech with usability… because they have to work together.

It was an absolute joy chatting to Ruth – not only do I love Dressage Anywhere, but I am a huge Ruth fan. She is a fountain of knowledge on ‘techy’ things and has helped me out on more than one occasion when I’ve had a tech based ‘why does everything hate me’ meltdown. OK. That happens quite a lot!

To find Ruth and Dressage Anywhere online, follow the links below…

Dressage Anywhere website




Beautiful image provided by Karen Bennett Photography

Subscribe to the Small & Supercharged podcast on iTunes

when to make a business leapThis was a question I was asked a few weeks ago. The question I was asked was actually connected to tradestands at big events, and knowing when to invest in these – when to make the leap, if you will. However, the advice I gave can be applied to any ‘business leap’. Hence why a blog that started off as a very tradestand focussed blog has now somewhat morphed into something general – how to know when to make a business leap.

What’s a business leap?

In this blog, a business leap is something out of the ordinary, unusual and a comfort zone demolisher. It’s a decision that feels scary and daring. It might not be to anyone looking from the outside in but, to the business’s founder, it does.

Are all business leaps huge?

No – and that’s a very important point. Some business leaps are HUGE and cost a lot of money and time – and there’s a lot on the line if it goes wrong. Moving to an amazing new warehouse to increase the size of your operation is a big leap, for example. But the good news is that there are many, many ways you can test the water first, to make sure that your decision is founded on strong evidence and results. This makes the leap a lot more calculated, which should help to reduce any anxiety surrounding it. Yes, it might still be a big leap and it might still be risky, but you can take the sting out of the tail… let’s work through a few examples.

Starting your own business. To some people this means quitting the day job and going all in. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you’re a little more cautious or want to test an idea first, start the business in your spare time. It’ll mean your weekends and evenings will evaporate… but running your own business can be like that when you’re full time too. This way, you can test the market, see what people want, and not compromise your income. You might find the idea is a roaring success and you need to stop your day job to meet demand. And that’s brilliant. But at least when you hand in your notice you can be excited about the next chapter. Don’t get me wrong – it’s STILL scary, but less so.

Taking a tradestand at big events. For many business owners, this is seen as a beacon for how well you’re doing. But if you want your business to survive, you need to care a LOT less about what other people think. Sod the beacons of greatness, just be great! However, there’s no doubt that some events are great for business – from a sales, a marketing, a social media and a market research point of view. Now, a word of warning… even if you have the money, brand and great product, this does not mean you will get the stands you want at big events. It just doesn’t work like that. The more prestigious ones require you to apply and be considered… but with so many people after a limited number of stands, a lot of people end up disappointed.

However, there is another way.

At many of the big equestrian events there are larger tents, like Rural Crafts, World of the Horse, etc. These are still in very high demand but with smaller spaces and more retailers sharing the space, it can be a very cost effective test. Another idea (if allowed by the event in question) is to work with someone who has an existing stand that your brand complements. I’ve seen this done a few times and it can be good for all concerned – as long as you’re not in breach of the venue’s Ts and Cs.

Calculated risks are good

Calculated risks are good. They help us to feel a lot more confident in what we’re about to undertake. However, there is still that moment when you do have to jump (or leap!). But if you do the groundwork, it’s not a jump into the unknown…


Small and Supercharged Giveaway

The Small and Supercharged giveaway bundle

Have you seen the Small & Supercharged giveaway? This AMAZING competition has recently launched on my Facebook page and the prize bundle is INCREDIBLE. I want to say a ginormous thank you to all the businesses who have donated prizes (I’m going to walk you through them all below) – the winner is going to have a very good day when this bundle of joy arrives!

What’s the Small & Supercharged giveaway?

The Small & Supercharged giveaway is a simple competition with a few purposes. First of all, it’s to celebrate my Small & Supercharged Facebook group getting over 1000 members. To me, that’s just plain crazy. It’s such a fab group and I am SO proud of it, but I didn’t imagine it would grow at such a rate and do so much good. To get to over 1000 fabulous members is amazing to me. And I wanted to celebrate.

So – I posted in the group and asked if anyone would be interested in donating a prize to the prize bundle. The idea would be to promote S&S and this milestone, of course, but it would also be to promote some of the amazing members inside the group. The remit was that anyone could donate a prize as long as it didn’t cross over the path of someone else who had already agreed. I didn’t want have a prize bundle made up of, I don’t know, 20 saddle pads, for example. As great as saddle pads are, that wouldn’t work as a prize. But luckily the diversity of the group shone through and an amazing bundle was created. Here are the prizes in the bundle – in alphabetical order by company name for fairness!

Hiho Silver Friendship Bracelet

Hiho Silver Friendship Bracelet

Who has donated to the Small & Supercharged 1k giveaway bundle?

Black Nova Designs has given a USB stick and a year’s hosting

Bling in the Show Ring has given a stock pin with pink, pearl and white elements

Doris & Co has given a lovely British creamware ‘Hold Fast’ Half Pint Mug

Equestriman has given a branded baseball cap

EvoEquine has given a tub of natural leather balm

Haynet has donated a lovely branded mug and pen

Hettie Company has donated a beautiful tweed iPad case. Made in Britain and soooo pretty!

Hiho Silver has given a stunning Exclusive Sterling Silver Horseshoe Friendship Bracelet

Hoofprints has donated a Small & Supercharged branded mug and coaster

Mackenzie and George

Mackenzie and George

Horse Riding With Confidence Scotland has donated a gift voucher for a session

Horsemanship Magazine has donated a magazine subscription

Horseshoe Hearts & Gifts has given Linked Horseshoe Hearts

Huf Designs has given a beautiful turquoise SKUP

Inkpot & Press has donated a Kikki K Goals Journal – ideal for stationery lovers!

Loch Leven Equine Practice has given an extensive equine first aid kit. Not only are first aid items included, but it comes in a great bag with a handy guide.

Lois Rose Fine Art has given one colouring book

Lotte Simons Photography has donated a stunning equine photo print

Mackenzie & George has given a handmade feather brooch by Wendy Goode, and a new leather keyring with branded brass rivet

Mother Bee has given a bundle of goodies for horse (Soothe & Protect), human (Soothing Lip Balm & Yard Hand Rescue) and tack (Leather Balm)

NKC Equestrian has given TWO places on an equine first aid course

My Dogs Deli has donated a box of canine goodies

Rowan & Ruby has donated a gorgeous tweed keyring

Safe Care Equine has donated two bottles of Total Body Wash

Super X Country has given a pink bobble hat from its current collection

Safe-Care Equine, The Herbal Horse, and Lotte Simons Photography

Safe-Care Equine, The Herbal Horse, and Lotte Simons Photography

Tail End Jewellery has given a £40 gift voucher

The Collar Club has give a subscription box for dogs

Tidy Tack Rooms Ltd has donated two saddlepad storage bags

The Equine Business Assistant has donated a pen, horse paperclips and a voucher for a hour of services

21st Century Rider has donated a Back On Track saddlepad

White Horse Leather has donated a leather headcollar

Wimpy Eventer has given two books: How To Get Your Leg Over and How To Stay On Top


I’ve added Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, and a Project Book notebook

How can you enter AND find out about all the amazing prizes above?

Well, that’s simple! In order to enter, just pop on over to my Facebook page. The post is pinned to the top of the page and you can find out more about ALL the companies involved and tagged there too. Please give them a little social media love and support. Without their generosity, this giveaway would be, well, non-existent, if you can show them a little love that would be fab.

And what if you want to join Small & Supercharged?

Wimpy Eventer, Haynet, and Hoofprints

Wimpy Eventer, Haynet, and Hoofprints

Then be my guest – just come on over and ask to join the Small & Supercharged group on Facebook. Just one thing, PLEASE answer the questions. At time of writing this blog, I have 94 requests pending approval. Why? Because most of them didn’t answer the questions and I can not see from their profile if they’re a good fit for the group. I know. I take my role of creator and admin a *bit* too seriously.

Anyway, a HUGE thank you to the Small & Supercharged group for their help with the giveaway. And best of luck to you if you enter… entries close at the end of May ’18.

every day is a school dayToday’s Wisdom Wednesday post (well, that’s why it was written but you can read it at any time you fancy!) is all about learning. Hence the ‘Every day is a school day’ title. Because it really, really is.

Every day is a school day

Have you heard this phrase before? There are many like it, but in essence ‘every day is a school day’ means that you learn something new every day. And with the speed that technology is advancing and digital opportunities are opening up, I think this phrase is the most relevant it’s ever been. If you ever hear a true guru/expert speak, or watch how they operate, self development is a huge part of their week. And that can take many forms. It might be working with a coach, attending lectures and seminars or taking part in courses. It might be reading and listening to podcasts. Investing in learning doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Far from it. In the amazing digital world that we live in, we have so much access to good, free knowledge, it can cost zero. But what it can deliver. Well, that can be priceless.

Should you invest in your own learning?

Yes. I could end this paragraph here but that would be a bit of a rubbish one, wouldn’t it? Taking time to learn new things and to try and test them is essential if you want to move your business on. I’m not saying you should throw your life savings at it. In all honestly, you don’t need to. Your investment could be time and zero funds if they’re not available to you. Yes, you do have to look a bit harder and up your ‘crap’ filter settings in your head (I can’t be the only one that has this?!), but you can learn and improve what you do for zero cost. Yes. Zero. There’s a wealth of FREE material out there for whatever business you’re in and whatever skill you’re trying to hone. You will need to put in the legwork and find good sources of information. This can be a bit vexing. Because it’s so easy to get yourself a platform online, it means anyone can. And while there are many (many, many) sources of great information online, there are some people I wouldn’t trust to sit on the toilet the right way around. You need to look out for those. But just keep your spider senses on and listen to what they’re telling you and you should be fine.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t pay to learn either – far from it. As someone who takes part in paid for courses, works with a coach and reads a lot of purchased books, I believe in paying to ‘play’ or at least supplementing your free learning with paid for. I also believe that paid for advice and knowledge (when it is from the right person) is usually better because it’s been pre-filtered, tried and tested… but that’s a whole different blog!

How do you learn?

Well, this depends on you. Some people are visual learners, some learn best through listening to things, it’s completely up to you. You need to find the style that suits you and how you learn. And also, make it fit with your life. A friend of mine embraced podcasts and audiobooks in a big way as the time she spent on the road increased, so she could make the best use of this ‘dead’ time. Personally, I often have a podcast on in the background when I’m working on something a little less creative, and I went through a phase of listening to audiobooks when I walked the dog (something I need to start again!). I also LOVE reading, and proper books at that, so I indulge in a little Amazon based retail therapy more than I would like to admit. And video is a big one too, depending on the skill you’re trying to learn. Have a play around and see what works for you.


Why I love TwitterYes, today it’s a big one – why I love Twitter… and why you might love it too… even if this love for Twitter has eluded you before!

What’s Twitter? And why should you care?

Well, I am sure you know what it is, but just to recap, it’s a micro-blogging social media platform. There are a few things that make Twitter different. The first is the length of the posts or updates. They’re limited. And limited to 280 characters (although it used to be 140). You might think you can’t say anything in that many characters, but you’d be surprised. It teaches you to be concise. Anyway, there are other differences too. The Twitter algorithm is different to Facebook, although it isn’t quite what it used to be. Historically, your timeline was a very very fast moving feed that was more chronological than anything else. This was great in some ways, but there was the possibility of missing tweets from your favourite people, and that’s what the Twitter algorithm aims to avoid. This shouldn’t happen as much now. Which has got to be good. Well, I think it is. Personally, I have noticed the changes on Twitter, but I haven’t felt it’s hindered my user experience. But maybe that’s just me?

I should say that, quite off piste, that I do have a bit of a thing about when social media networks announce changes in the algorithm. You know everyone goes into a panic, creates really naff blog posts and content about how Facebook is screwing us over, or Instagram has turned into the devil? Yeah. I like to wait and see. And even then I know it’s a borrowed platform, by which I mean I don’t own it. So I can’t control it. I just need to work with what I have. But that’s a whole different blog…

Why do I like Twitter?

I like Twitter. Yep. I said it. I recently asked my followers on Facebook and Instagram whether they preferred Twitter or Facebook. And Facebook won hands down. But the people who came forward and said they preferred Twitter did really love it. I like it because I enjoy the chatter and the fast moving pace, and I really like the conversation. Unlike Facebook, I think Twitter is ALL about the chat. The tooing and froing. The chatter. With Facebook you make a statement and then address comments (in general), but with Twitter, you can say something and that can lead to more of a chat. I also like the hashtag function. You want to see what’s going on in the Great British Bake Off (I know it’s finished!), you type in the hashtag and you can see and join in the conversation. In some ways it’s higher maintenance than Facebook or Instagram, but it’s a lot more interactive and a lot more friendly. I also think that, as I’ve been on Twitter for so long, I kind of love it. Like a jumper I’ve had forever.

From a business point of view, I have made really good connections through it, responded to the #journorequest hashtag and been featured on various websites, and I have also got clients and work through Twitter. But these things don’t happen overnight. they take time.

Why should you like Twitter?

To be honest, you don’t have to, and that’s fine. At this stage, Snapchat isn’t my favourite platform. And that doesn’t bother me, it’s just the truth. I’m not saying it’s a bad platform but it’s not my favourite. I understand it and I’m on it, but others have a bigger space in my social media heart. You might feel the same way about Twitter. And that’s fine. However, if you fancy giving it a go, then you might just love it. Here are a few tips…

  • Get yourself an account – it’s free
  • If you have a business, do your best to make sure your Twitter name is the same (or as close to the same) as your other social media profiles
  • Follow some people you’re interested in. These might be celebs, websites, magazines, friends, etc. And it’ll help you find some people you might like to follow too.
  • Get involved. Respond to people’s comments, put your own tweets out there, share some pics.
  • Give it time. If you’re serious about Twitter, give it time. It gets more interesting as your following grows, you get the hang of it, and the more really interesting people you follow.
  • Search by hashtags. This will help you find content that might be of interest to you. #horsebloggers is a great one for equestrians, as is #247equestrian, but events and shows also have their own hashtags you can follow and participate in.

And, if you’d like to get more involved and are looking to follow some people, then you can find my Twitter profile here. 


what do you think of collaborationsWhat do you think of collaborations? I personally think they can be incredible. Collaborations were the subject of my first column in NFU Countryside Magazine, I’ve blogged about them a lot AND I’ve even made videos about them. Actually, I’ll be talking about another collaboration soon, but I digress.

In my Facebook group, I asked ‘what do you think of collaborations?’. Here’s what a few of the group members had to say…

What do you think of collaborations?

Sophie Callahan from Sophie Callahan Photography: ‘We can never have too many friends, especially as a business owner. We all have to work in this industry together and it helps if we can get along well with others. The more ‘friends’ you make, whether they are actual friends or just other brands that you align your business with, the better. And collaborations are a great way of forging new ‘friendships’.’ (Sophie’s written a great blog post about collaborations too – see it here).

Emma Warren from Hiho Silver: ‘Collaborations are brilliant – when you have common aims, are clear about what’s expected and try and make a point of giving more than you take.’

Emily Mumford from Inkpot & Press Media Services: ‘Collaborations can be the single most powerful marketing tool a business has at their disposal IF they are used correctly. Find someone with the same values and work ethic and you’re already winning.’

Karen McConnell from KA Equestrian: ‘Working with other brands, businesses and professionals has not only been hugely instrumental in building and growing my business but also inspiring, enlightening and great fun!’

Harriet Edwards – aka A Girl About Country: “Collaborations are really powerful, but only when they are mutually beneficial. Both (or all) parties must derive some benefit in order for it to be a success.”

Lindsay Robertson from Lindsay Robertson Photography and Country Meets Creative: “Like speed dating, awesome and can’t get enough with the right match!”

Ruth Chappell from Dressage Anywhere: “I love collaborations – I’ve only done a few and scratched the surface of what’s possible but they’ve been brilliant, whether it’s as simple as a blog post about another business or business owner, or something more detailed around products. It’s important to make sure you’re the right fit and have everything agreed (and written down if possible) in advance.”

Izzy White from Izzy White Photography: ‘If you find the right people, then it can work really well. I have had some great success from collaborating with fellow business owners. If you both benefit then I see it as a win-win situation. Provided you do your research and are honest with what you both want out of the collab, I see it as a great tool!’

Beth Hicks from Beth Hicks Photography: ‘They’re great when they’re with the right people with the same audience and similar aims, aren’t so great (and can be a bit of a pain) when this isn’t the case, especially when you’re putting in all the effort, hence why it’s so important to collaborate with the right people!’

Jennifer Dunig from The Equine Pass: ‘Collaborations were never something I’d ever considered when I first started out. I think it felt like I was asking someone for help or worse still, having to be a little less possessive with my “control” over my business but now I’ve actually ventured toward collaborations, I’ve realised that actually, they’re bloody fantastic for not only reaching a wider audience but making some great contacts within the industry that I otherwise wouldn’t have done.’

Danielle Crawford from Black Nova Designs: ‘Collaborations are a fantastic idea and when we first started out we did it a lot, just need to ensure you are getting the right contacts and pushing towards your target market.
Although saying that, we have achieved getting cheaper childcare by sorting the nursery Wifi equipment! People working together and helping each other out is the best way to do business.’

Hayley Files from Equissentials: ‘Collaborations are a great idea, especially as we do – with sponsored riders. However, it has to be mutually beneficial and it really helps if the riders you are working with actually buy/use your products to start with and have a relationship with you before the collaboration. It’s quite a challenging one to navigate, but when it works, it’s brilliant!’

Megan Allen from Rural Roots PR: ‘I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without collaborating with other wonderful small businesses; from joint pitches to just batting ideas around, as a solopreneur it’s vital to my business and my sanity!’

Wiola Grabowska from Aspire Equestrian: ‘I strongly believe collaborations are what makes running a small business with bigger projects not only possible but hugely enjoyable and rewarding. I find it a great challenge and a pleasure to figure out ways to help other businesses/individuals who work with me and when everything comes together well in the end, it’s wonderful to share the success with someone who cares about the project as much as I do 🙂 Last night I wrote final part of my reflections on one of the biggest projects I undertook so far and it would not be possible without sponsorship, wonderful support and collaborations with a few fantastic people. Collabs all the way for me.’

Anna Rainbow from Anna Rainbow Photography: ‘A few days ago, I couldn’t think how I might collaborate, now I’be been asked to take some images with the big C all around. Slightly fazed by bringing Christmas to a Hampshire garden in September, but so looking forward to doing something totally different and collaborating with a local 2* event rider who also makes crackers! The benefit for me – she’s taking my little man to his first event at Tweseldown in exactly one month’s time.’

Naomi Leach from NL Equestrian: ‘I think it’s a fantastic idea, a great business tool, and a really nice way to make new friends! The world can be tough for small businesses to get their name out there, so this is a great way to reach further afield and help a fellow business owner too. I’ve only done a couple so far but it’s definitely something I want to explore further!’

What do you think of collaborations? I’d love to hear…


Sarah Johnstone Apt Cavalier copyHave you heard about Apt Cavalier? This fairly new equestrian brand gained a sizeable following pre-launch on Instagram, and has continued to deliver on social media and in product since. Headed by Sarah Johnstone, a fashion design graduate and self professed determined eventer, Apt Cavalier is definitely a brand to watch. In this blog, I catch up with the lady herself…

Tell us about you and your background What made you want to start a business?

I started Apt Cavalier because it simply “made sense”. I graduated with an Honours Degree in Fashion Design and have lived in the heart of the equestrian world for almost 20 years, so combining my expertise in clothing design with my knowledge of the competitive riding industry just seemed like my logical career path.

How is Apt Cavalier different?

Now, my answer to this is a bit unorthodox, because essentially it probably isn’t all that different. I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that I’m filling a gap in the market, because truthfully there are hundreds of equestrian clothing brands out there who do a great job. However, equestrians (including myself) tend to live and breathe this lifestyle, it’s more than just a sport or a hobby, it’s who we are and what we love. So, I firmly believe that there will always be room in the market for another service to the horsey world.

What makes your products special?

Sarah JohnstoneAh, now this question is exciting as we may not be all that different but our products sure are special! Our line of performance wear is designed to solve real life problems, primarily in Eventing. Take our Performance Skins for example; designed initially for wearing cross-country but can also be worn during training and around the yard. Personally, my biggest problem on the cross-country course was that I was too hot; when I finished my round, I was red in the face, uncomfortable and desperate to get my body protector off. So, I wanted to create something that eliminated this discomfort meaning the only thing I would have to think about at the end of my round was how amazing it was. I wanted to create something that meant my attention was first and foremost on caring for my horse, and cooling him down, rather than having to dart into the lorry to strip off!

So, what really makes us special is the fabric technology and innovative design that goes into each and every product and provides solutions to real equestrian problems!

If you had to sum up Apt Cavalier in five words, what would they be?

A brand for the riders!

Do you have a motto or ethos?

To make all our business decisions according to what it best for the riders.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring business owner, what would it be?

Just get on with it! You can plan and plan and plan, but planning doesn’t achieve results- taking action does! Just remember you can learn and adjust along the way!

One thing that helps you run Apt Cavalier more effectively 

Buffer to schedule social media posts and Airtable to make lists, split those lists into different sections, prioritise and make yet more lists.

Apt Cavalier Performance Skin copyBest thing about running a business?

That amazing feeling when someone places an order –  someone actually wants to wear something that I created!!! I don’t think that feeling will ever go away!

Worst thing about running a business?

Knowing that if it all goes tits-up (excuse my French), it’s on me!

Top business blog you follow?

What I really like to do is search a keyword or topic in the ‘Posts’ section of LinkedIn. For example, I might search “small business growth” and there will be two or three really inspirational posts- I like to read articles by lots of different people, from different backgrounds as they all have different insights.

Top business book you’ve read?

Does the Eventing Life magazine count?? Let’s call it market research!

One thing we might not know about you?

I came up with the initial concept of Apt Cavalier when I was bored and signed off work – my lovely SuperCob got very excited in the field and ended up kicking me in the hand, shattering two of my bones as well as kindly removing my tendons. The doctors rebuild my bones using calcium and said I might not be able to ride as I would struggle to gain full use of my hand again – but determined as ever, I was back on within 12 weeks and here I am just two years later competing at BENovice!

Top business achievement?

Watching an accomplished four-star rider gallop around Burghley wearing one of our Performance Skins!

Where can people follow Apt Cavalier online?

Facebook : Apt Cavalier Ltd

Twitter: @aptcavalierequestrian

Instagram: @aptcavalierequestrian

NFU CountrysideIf you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you may have seen me post about Countryside magazine. Why? Well, the September issue (which is the one that is out NOW) sees my first monthly business column. I’m a bit excited about it.

Why Countryside magazine?

I have worked with the team at Countryside magazine, with various clients, for… I don’t know… 10 years? Maybe a bit longer?! I love the magazine, get each issue and read it from cover to cover. It’s also one of the few magazines that comes into the house that my husband also reads (and discusses articles at length… today he told me he’d read you shouldn’t trim a horse’s whiskers… and I know where he read it!!). It’s wholesome, it’s interesting, it’s useful and I love the content. The feature about harvesting in this issue is particularly fascinating as it looked at different crops… but I digress. With my small business coachingSmall & Supercharged and Small & Supercharged VIP group, the vast majority of the people inside it have some connection to the countryside or equestrian industry. This could be that they live in the countryside, own a horse, spend every minute they can with nature or sell equestrian, canine and country products. The groups are open to everyone but, I think because I’ve been in the equestrian and rural industry for so long, I’m best known there. And that’s fine by me. Well, it’s more than fine.

So, the column in Countryside magazine?

Ah yes, the column. I understand this magazine and regularly speak to the editor, the brilliant Martin Stanhope, and with Small & Supercharged growing at an alarming rate, now seemed like the time to share my expertise, put myself out there and help people by sharing a bit of knowledge that they can apply to their business. I really REALLY love helping small businesses, and being able to potentially help even more is incredibly exciting and something I am really grateful for. So thanks so much for the opportunity, Countryside.

What’s the first one about?

The first column is all about collaborations (because it’s not a secret that I’m a fan of the good old collab!), and next month’s is all about influencers… so definitely have a look out for that…

I’ll be writing a monthly column in each issue of Countryside magazine. I hope you enjoy it. If you want to find out more about Countryside magazine, have a look here.

Why I have such a low tolerance for BSAnd I don’t mean that British Standard! I’m going to refer to overinflated opinions, general rubbish and fibbing as BS, because it’s a bit nicer than what it stands for…

Why I have such a low tolerance for BS

I must confess that when tact, diplomacy and BS ability were being handed out, I must have been at the cake stand, because I don’t possess any of these qualities in the amount that could be useful. I used to think this was a bad thing, I mean, surely it’s useful when you know someone is talking utter rubbish at you to be able to say ‘oh yes, you’re clearly a genius’. Yeah. I can’t do that. I’ve tried and I sound horribly sarcastic. Or my face shows that I don’t believe any of the words coming from my mouth. It’s a curse. Or is it? Lately, I’ve begun to realise that this incredibly low tolerance for rubbish and my straight talking is actually a massive bonus in what I do now, and something that I am respected for. And that makes me incredibly happy. I should say that I do always try and be mindful of people’s feelings, well, when I feel that they deserve this. If someone rocks up with an ego the size of a small county, I will probably be more direct. That might be a bad thing. But my BS alarm is going off like a mad thing.

Can you have this low tolerance for BS and be a good coach?

I actually think it’s essential! My own coach is very to the point and direct in a nurturing way (yes, they aren’t exclusive!), but she has never once BS’d me. And I have never with my clients. Ever. It makes me unbelievably sad to see the result of some other people’s coaching (that I know others have paid good money for) that is actually harming their business. It really breaks my heart. And I know that sounds really dramatic, but it makes me sad that people are damaging their own businesses so dramatically. Is it because they’re believing their own hype? Is it because their coach didn’t call them out on their own BS? Is it because the coach isn’t experienced in the industry their client is in? It could be any of the above to be honest. However, I can assure you this. If we have a session, everything I tell you will be honest and genuine. If I think you’ve maybe taken a left instead of a right on your journey, I’ll talk to you about it. Even if that means that we aren’t a good fit. Although I have a low tolerance for other people’s BS, mine is non-existent with myself!

Find out more about coaching here