Today marks 6 years my little yoga studio has been in business. My husband (boyfriend at the time,) and I had just bought our second house. We both had full time jobs. And then I told him I was going to open a yoga studio. Bless that man.
Even though my business meant I was surrounded by people day in and day out, sometimes it felt so lonely. I was in my mid twenties and many of my friends still lived at home. Meanwhile I was running a new business, was on the brink of getting married, and quickly after at the ripe age of 27 had a baby. I went through many days of feeling like nobody “got it.” Now, 6 years later I realize that it doesn’t matter. I set out on a path, committed to something I believed in, and the rest is history. Who really cares who “gets it?”
It’s taken a long time to figure it all out, and honestly everyday I’m still figuring things out. If I was no longer doing that, I think I’d be ready to move on. I hope I never lose the curiosity and drive that this life endeavor has gifted me with.
When I talk about “figuring it all out” I don’t just mean learning how to make my business financially stable. I mean figuring out how to put my needs first, how to find a work life balance, and how to make sure my marriage didn’t implode as I worked every morning and every night.
So here’s where I share an opinion that may be unpopular: owning a business with a brick and mortar location, where you pay rent and utilities, insurance, etc. every month, is a different beast than a side hustle or a business that doesn’t have monthly responsibilities. I’m not implying that people who have these types of businesses don’t work as hard, but many have the ability to have a slow month and their ass not be on the line. I’ve never had that option, and it’s made my life and my family different.
I see many yoga teachers who truly love teaching yoga go on to open studios to quickly find they do not love running a business, and that’s ok! You can love yoga and love teaching without owning a studio. Not everyone loves marketing, no one loves taxes, and not everyone loves dealing with the customer service logistics of it all. There are days when I don’t love it either, but overall, at the end of the day I can say I love running a business.
If I had to pick the top 10 things I’ve learned in the past 6 years in regards to my business, I guess these would be it:
- Stick to your policies. Doing this is going to piss a few people off, but if you don’t, your life will be a nightmare. Make them clear as day on your website, receipts, and emails. Then refer to them when questions arise.
- Set boundaries. If you stop working at 1pm on Sunday, stop working at 1pm on Sunday. There is literally no call, email, or text that can’t wait until Monday morning. It’s yoga, not life or death.
- Make time for your family. They are number one. Your clients will put their families first, as they should, so make sure you do the same.
- Set your prices and stick to them. Unless you like working for free, don’t. I’m not talking about donating your time to worthy causes you believe in, but I have no idea where this idea that yoga teachers should work for free came from. It’s a no from me. I’ve invested an insane amount of time and money into being good at what I do.
- Not everyone is going to like you. As a studio, a teacher, or a human being. It is not your responsibility to change to please these people. Smile and wish them the best, then get back to spending your energy on those who love and appreciate you.
- Do not count on positivity and good vibes to make your business successful. Count on knowing what you’re doing. If you don’t have the desire to learn about the business aspect of things, please do not open a business.
- Realize that you are going to be wrong, and make mistakes, a lot. Don’t let this ruin you or discourage you. Learn from them and move forward with gratitude for now knowing better.
- Clients will fall off the wagon, and 9/10 it has nothing to do with you. They’re human too. Life changes, moods change, things happen. Do your best to support them in a professional way, but don’t take their absence personally.
- Know when to expand and when to pull the reigns back in. Look at numbers. I repeat, look at numbers. I’ve never been good at math, but I love my business and am serious about it’s longevity, so I look at “the numbers” often.
- You have to spend money to make money. This is true. But before you convince yourself that you need the most posh space that ever was, with the highest end props and all the bells and whistles, pause, look around, and use common sense. I started my studio with the bare necessities and built upon it as I made more revenue. There is so little you actually need to practice yoga. Create a welcoming and clean space, but don’t make yourself crazy (or broke) trying to keep up with the joneses.