Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in training and education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kari Fulmek, Founder of Equine Connection - The Academy of Equine Assisted Learning, located in Carseland, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Working with Horses to Change People's Lives! A Global Horse Certification Course With One-of-a-Kind Business Training. Make a living doing what you love. It's Not Just A Course... It's A Career! It is Equine Assisted Learning, and this is the R-EAL D-EAL! Our model is simple: Positively impact people's lives by working through objectively driven programs that are educational & experiential while keeping the welfare of the horse at the base of all we do.
The horse's job is to speak to the clients through their bodies to help bring about the changes the human needs to make. Exercises are developed to encourage self-confidence through validated, hands-on experiences and to find answers to their own lives and move forward with newly acquired skills. Horses have a lot to teach us! Herds to horses are just like teams to people. Horses have natural "herd behaviors" that require trust, respect, and teamwork from all members of the team. Quite simply, the horse does the teaching facilitators are there to offer an explanation and provide guidance as they work through the solution.
We have a few different target markets:
- Customers are people who love horses and help humans with certification courses.
- Customers are non-horse people who take weekly programs to help build skills in their lives and use these skills in moving forward because the horse helped them to do that. We work with organizations that help people in recovery from addictions.
- Customers are women (most non-horse people) who come to our weekend retreat workshop called Authentic You Women's Workshop - discovering their authentic selves through the power of the horses.
Tell us about yourself
I was craving something so purposeful and real that it did not include material things. I wanted my last breath on earth to be doing something that literally changes people's lives while working with horses in a completely different way. The parallels and connections between humans and horses are so strong it's uncanny. People can see themselves reflected in horses' behavior when they spend intimate time in their company. They can discover their deepest selves when they have the courage to look.
So what does it say about those among us who are drawn to work and engage with horses on a daily basis? Are they given insight that the rest of us could use? Are they called to share another level of communication or awareness? Most young girls have an intense love or longing to be with horses. Where that longing comes from is anybody's guess ... but it's a universal theme and one that can't be chalked up to coincidence. Girls and horses are a synergistic pairing - a mutual flowing of admiration and respect, a heart connection. Ask a young girl where it comes from, and she will smile and lose her gaze in a long-ago memory. As girls grow into women, life's responsibilities take over their deepest dreams, and their intense desire to be with horses fades away as if it never existed. Yet, I was a woman who never let these dreams go. Promised a horse by my single mom as a young girl, I believed that somehow, someday, I would get my wish. Moving back and forth between the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan some 25 times during my growing years didn't stop me from holding onto my dream. In fact, what I held onto was a $.25 book my mom gave me to help me wait patiently for the horse I longed for - a horse that could fill my heart. I've been doing this incredible business since 2008 and have seen the power of how these horses have changed and touched every person who has come through my doors in a positive, move-forward direction just because the horse was the one to tell them versus a human. These are profound, real, and life-changing for all humans! It is breathtaking and a beautiful privilege to see a human make a change before your eyes because of what the horse told them. It's truly a blessing I live with daily.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Surviving the year from hell in 2011 and persevered to move forward even when my heart was filled with so much pain in loss! Picture this…I wake up around 5 am and look out my window as I pour my first cup of coffee and see dark spots everywhere. It hits me that my beautiful horse Charlie is bleeding out. (this is another story for another time) I call the vet, and she rushes over. Charlie is still grazing on grass, he does want to leave, but oh, my, gosh, I have to put him down. I had already lost my incredible mom, best friend, and business partner on June 1st, along with our beautiful horse Buddy on June 1st, and now this! (My mom and Buddy, too, is an entirely another story) In 8 weeks, I lost three beautiful human beings and four horses for very different reasons. I am not a person who shares too much of my own personal life, but I have also learned through my experiences that sharing can oftentimes help others along the way.
So to continue…it is now pouring rain, and it takes Charlie 3 shots to put him down. I am crying my face off as my heart can no longer take so much loss in such a short period of time. The vet leaves, I'm in my garage uncontrollably crying and feeling beyond sorry for myself, and it hits me I have dogs. Will they lick the blood with all the shots Charlie had to take to move on to the next life? I called the vet and asked what would happen. They say, oh my gosh, you have to lock your dogs in as they will die if they lick it. Now, I am beyond pissed! Why didn't they tell me this? I call my dogs in and lock them in the garage. I get 300 feet of watering hoses and am out in the field where my beautiful Charlie was, spraying all the blood away. Screaming up above, yep, that's right, screaming at GOD, "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME"!! Am I not supposed to be doing this business? Is this your sign? This is the worst way on earth to tell me!! I get everything cleaned up, and I know this is still the business for me! I cannot explain what happened, but I got the message loud and clear: I am supposed to prove how strong I am and how much I can withstand to show that I am 100% dedicated to this dream!
How do you know in your gut when you are supposed to keep moving forward with a dream when it feels like everything is against it? I can tell you right now it's when it's the worst, not the easiest, that is your dream! I believe in every single one of you, women! You can make anything happen IF you believe you can. You are the driving force! Not anyone else! Money is NEVER the reason not to do your dream. If money is the thing that ever holds you back when there are so many different ways to get around it, it's not your dream. Money is material! Don't get me wrong, I know we all need money to survive and live, but in any business, I have ever started, I had no money or help. I came up with ways that still boggled my mind. We die, and we do not take money with us. We live, we die, we do our dream, and we take our moments of purpose with us!!! I am not telling my one story for you to feel sorry for me as I do not believe in this but to help connect you to your personal dream. Your dream should be so hard and hurt so bad that no matter what you must do or go through, you know it is still your path! If it doesn't hurt, if it isn't hard, if it doesn't mess your brain with how you will do it, it is not a dream!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Always do the action to work!! Sometimes you want to chill and ride the wave, but you never can; as an entrepreneur, you must always be ahead of the business. Work is fun, but it's a continuous motivation to be disciplined in oneself! Being disciplined vs. motivated is a critical component in business!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Why not you? You are unique and gifted, and there is no one else like you, so why not you?
- It will be hard as a dream is, but when it stirs your soul, you have a calling, do it, and know your sign will always be, 'It's Not Your Dream If It's Not Hard.'
- Be disciplined to do the action, which is always the work. You cannot just sit and hope. It's ACTION, ACTION, AND MORE ACTION!!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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