Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘small business

Failure Averse

with 7 comments

It was a radio exposé about a successful yogurt entreprise. I wasn’t really listening to it, but the interview droned on and on as I wandered around the house doing a variety of other things. I noticed the initial comments about how difficult the early days of the business were and figured it was just a typical worst-to-first tale that one would expect to hear on the radio or television.

When I came by the kitchen again later, I was surprised they were even still talking to this same guy, but then I realized they were still drilling through the worst years before the big victory in the end. Not having listened closely, I didn’t grasp how he was even still in business at that point where he was describing the level of debt that had amassed and scope of his scrounging for cash to get by each successive day.

That’s when it struck me. When Cyndie and I dipped our toes in the world of starting a business venture, we weren’t willing to go into debt to see if it was possible to eventually come up with a financially sustainable operation in the end.

It seems that most stories of wild success include a fair amount of previous failures that came first. I expect there are more tales of failure in the world than there are ultimate successes, but it occurred to me that energy spent avoiding failure probably inhibits overall outcomes.

Obviously, it doesn’t make sense that one should then plan to fail, but I think it does point to the importance of willingness to dance with increasing levels of risk and endure the challenges associated with it, long enough to eventually reach the dreams envisioned.

In our case, neither of us are comfortable with shaky finances. We signed documents of commitment to pay our mortgage every month, and we hold it a priority to be able to do that.

We have accomplished that financial stability throughout our lives thus far, but with that as our primary priority, there wasn’t much additional risk-space available for two non-celebrities launching a new-age horse assisted health and wellness learning venture an hour out of town to have much of a chance.

Honestly, I don’t know how people like the yogurt guy on the radio pull off their rags to riches accomplishments, but I’m glad they do. I’m too failure averse.

I wish I would have listened close enough to find out the name of his company. I’d like to go buy some of his yogurt as a hat-tip to his feat.



Written by johnwhays

October 6, 2019 at 10:20 am

What Led?

with 14 comments

The weeks that have followed the unexpected death of Legacy, our Arabian gray who was the herd leader of three chestnuts, have been made even more difficult by some extreme winter weather, the death of a colleague and friend whom Cyndie worked with during her years as Principal of Eden Prairie High School, and now signs of some laminitis lameness in Hunter.

Among the many contributing factors listed for laminitis, we found that hormonal imbalance caused by stress of moving a horse or the loss of a field companion spoke directly to the situation effecting our remaining three. Sadly, this recent heavy snow accumulation, followed by the dramatic thaw, has added another risk by making the uneven frozen footing in the paddocks hazardous for bruising or mechanical damage to the cellular bond between sensitive laminae and the hoof wall.

On top of these issues, this weekend Cyndie and I were smacked with the reality that her car is in need of cost prohibitive repairs. Logic indicates it is time to shop for a different vehicle for her.

Roll all these issues together and our grieving minds both came to a similar thought: has our dream of making Wintervale Ranch into a functioning business met with defeat?

Life was a heck of a lot less complicated for me when I lived in the suburbs and only had to deal with maintaining the house and our tiny lot. I hate to admit there are aspects of that which look desirable in comparison to our current situation.

Our unpredictable and decidedly inadequate combined incomes do not make shopping for a replacement vehicle as simple as it once was for us. Right now, shopping for a different car seems to be a tipping point for our analysis of this whole crazy move to the country to build a self-sustaining retreat and learning center.

What led us here in the first place?

We found ourselves revisiting the series of inspirational events that sequentially fueled our passion and groomed our decisions. From the magical trip to spend two weeks with Ian Rowcliffe in Portugal, to Cyndie’s apprenticeship in Linda Kohanov’s Eponaquest workshops, to our discovery of this gorgeous property and log home in west-central Wisconsin, the mid-life transition we embarked on seemed supernaturally ordained.

Where is that inspiration now?

Instead of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have blessed us in response to all the incredible challenges that arose throughout the early years of this adventure, we are increasingly noticing a lack of income-generating response to our offerings and an increase in stressful difficulties with our animal partners.

Obviously, the most dramatic stressor being Legacy’s sudden death.

Just like all that has come before, we know there is a lesson for us in this. Even though he is gone, Legacy still has something to teach us.

At the center of it all is, love.

We grieve because we love and experienced a loss, but loving is how we got where we are today.

We believe it is possible to rediscover the love and inspiration that guided us here and we are seeking to re-attune ourselves to more of the surprisingly achievable answers and solutions that have graced our journey thus far.

What led us here is exactly the same as what will lead us to what happens next.

Please keep your seat belts fastened and your arms and hands inside at all times for the remainder of this wild ride.



Marketing Crunch

with 2 comments

Here is a peek behind our Wintervale curtain. Cyndie’s two months of pent-up energy while out of commission with the bum shoulder has now exploded in a barrage of hyper-active efforts to do a year’s worth of planning and execution in a span of a few weeks.

In addition to our recently getting a Wintervale Ranch presence on Facebook and updating our website, Cyndie has now pumped out more than a half-dozen flyers promoting specific workshops with times, dates, and registration fees.

She has quickly made things real.

With our precious friend, Dunia, planning to come from her home in Guatemala to help, they have plotted an impressive series of workshops with a variety of areas of focus, planned one-after-the-other, for the last few weeks of August.

Now all they need to do is get the word out while also enticing some learners to leap at the chance. That effort started small, with some posts on the Wintervale Facebook page, but after it became obvious that choice provides a rather limited reach, the next logical step was, paid advertising.

Stop. Picture John and Cyndie suddenly switching hats to [untrained] Marketing Specialists in 2017. I have already submitted our business information and location to Google maps. I have also manually ventured to update search engine optimization for our website. Dipping toes into the world of social media paid advertising is a whole ‘nother thing.

It’s a jungle in there.

We not only need to increase the number of viewers, they need to be enticed to make some pretty prompt decisions about committing to participate. That’s a tall order.

Good thing Cyndie and Dunia like to dwell in positive possibilities. And, we are guaranteed nothing would happen if they didn’t at least try.

This week we are ordering new logo’d shirts for facilitators, and a flag for the end of the driveway.

We can lead people toward what we have to offer, but we can’t make them drink. Or something like that.

Give it a couple of weeks and I’ll let you know how things are turning out.














Written by johnwhays

August 2, 2017 at 6:00 am