A passion for her business and a clear plan to put her grant money to good use to grow it has vaulted Jonna Wisher Ibañez, founder of JW Equine Services in Rosenberg Texas, to first place in the Nav’s quarterly $10,000 Small Business Grant.
Jonna has turned her lifelong passion for horses into a full service equine business that includes lessons, boarding and training horses. She plans to use the funds from the grant to help build a covered arena which will allow her to extend her business to serve clients in all weather conditions. “I will be able to make money more consistently,” she explains.
Running an equine business means her days include many different responsibilities; caring for horses, training them and their riders, competing on client’s horses or coaching riders through competitions, keeping track of farrier and veterinary care and more. She also raises, trains, competes and sells prospects from the dam line Miss Millennium Zippo who is owned by her client Michele Mertz-Terry.
“I coach competition-based lessons to all ages and levels of riders,” she says. “Each of my clients are unique. I do my best to create attainable goals each year with them and follow through as we progress. I have also helped my clients with college applications and scholarships, job applications, referral letters and more.”
A recent divorce has also left her with additional responsibilities as a mom. (Her 3-year-old daughter rides and competes as well.) Juggling her roles as a single mom and business owner hasn’t been easy, but she says family and friends have helped her pull through a difficult patch
Like so many small businesses, cash flow is often a challenge. “There have been several situations where I needed to max out a few credit cards and I spent every dime that I had keeping my business going,” she admits. But she’s now debt-free and uses her credit card to earn rewards while paying the bill in full each month.
Jonna feels fortunate that she gets to do what she loves, and to work with clients who have stayed with her for many years. “I love to be able to pick my clients so I always have good people surrounding me,” she adds.
In addition to training client’s horses, she has two of her own: Cricket and Rose, on which her clients compete. The out-of-pocket expenses for her horses can add up quickly. “Horses are the most expensive sport that I know of,” she observes.
She knows she will need financing in the future to realize her dream of owning her own full-service facility someday, and she sees the grant— and Nav— as a stepping stone toward becoming qualified for the financing she’ll need as she grows her business.
She found the Nav grant through the SCORE chapter in Houston TX where she has also begun working with a SCORE mentor. Her parents have been her biggest source of business help and inspiration. “They are both extremely savvy with business, and always steer me in the right direction morally.” she says.
As for advice for other business owners, Jonna says, “Do something you love or that you are passionate about. Seek help from others, there’s always somebody out there that knows more than you. Be nervous, take risks. It means you care.”
And she adds, “always, always have a good legal contract!”
Nav is proud to award this hard-working entrepreneur the $10,000 Nav Quarterly Small Business Grant and to support her dream to take her business to the next level.