Mequon, Wis., farrier Red Renchin says it isn't enough to create a business plan, but you have to continually analyze it. He likes to review his business the first week of January. He compiles his income and expense records from the previous year. He also examines his client list.

"I determine if I am happy with the business, if it has grown," explains the Wisconsin shoer. "Did I spend too much money? Do I want to add new and better clients, while getting rid of some others?

"Make the decisions and stick to them. Are you happy with the clients you have? Early in your career you will likely have less desirable clients. But as you progress, you can jettison those clients."

Firing a client can be an awkward situation. Renchin gives the client advance notice and tries to line up a different farrier who would assume the duties. But be prepared for the negative comments. "If you want your business to grow, when it is time to move on, then it is time to move on," he says.

And while a business plan is something that is often altered, never forget the end of your career, no matter how distant it may seem. Factor retirement into your business plan. You can't depend on anyone but yourself for a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, thoughts of retirement will often come at the time when some shoers have very few horses left in their backs.

"The most tragic thing is to see a person who is at the end of a career and has to continue to shoe horses not because he wants to, but has to," says Renchin. "There is a lifetime of work with, unfortunately, nothing to show for it."

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