Jules Barber recently quit her 9-5 job, packed her bags and hopped on a flight to a small island in the Gulf of Thailand to take over a struggling yoga studio… here’s what she wished she had known before embarking on that adventure! Take it away Jules:
Though I had over a decade of other business experience, running a yoga studio came with its own unique lessons, and it wasn’t until I shared my story with several other brave yoga studio owners that I realised: most of us had dealt with the exact same obstacles and wish someone had prepared us for them beforehand…
1. You’re Now Running a Business
One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting their own studio is not realising that this is a business. Yoga may be your passion or life calling — but this won’t pay the bills.
Many people starting out feel compelled to undercharge, to offer lots of free classes, or to let people barter when it comes to class prices. If you do this right off the bat, the chances of your studio succeeding are slim.
For better or worse, money is the lifeblood of your business. Make the most of your time and what you offer during those “billable hours”.
Speaking of finances: it’s crucial to maintain accurate bookkeeping records. Understanding your financial state allows you to see where money is coming from, and where you could be potentially haemorrhaging money.
2. You’ve got to Hustle
Many people think that if they build something great, people will come. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. You may have the best location, services and teachers… but if you don’t do some marketing and get the word out there, how will people hear about you?
There are several ways to get the word out there and build your community. Asides from the obvious like setting up your YogaTrail profile, you can also use social media, or reach out to some local yoga blogs (there are likely to be a few). You can also use traditional advertising like flyers and the like.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the whole marketing thing, find a professional who can help you get your studio started on the right foot.
3. Your Business is Your Brand
Many of us just starting out don’t really understand the idea or importance of “brand”. A brand identity refers to the face of your business. As the owner, you are the face of your business and how you position it ultimately becomes a reflection on you. This means you are responsible for creating an image of your business that reflects your beliefs, values and unique self.
One major piece of advice to build your brand: separate your personal social media accounts from your business. Though your business is a reflection on you, it’s always best to keep these two separate. If clients ask to “friend” you, refer them to your business page and keep your personal page for close friends and family instead.
4. Set Your Profit Bar Low
We all dream of a studio bursting with life and attracting loads of clients, but at the beginning this is not realistic. The first few years of running your own studio will require plenty of your time and money, and to make ends meet you may have to work weekends and live off a measly wage.
Until you can attract the ideal number of clients at the ideal price point, your profit margins will be fairly small. Set your profit expectation bar low and be prepared to make sacrifices. Be patient. In time, things will work out.
5. You will make Mistakes
Success is often the result of playing a game of trial and error. In those first few months (even years), you should expect to make mistakes.
For example, finding the right teachers for your studio is key to the success of your business. Mistaking a nice and approachable personality for actual competence is an error that many new business owners make, and you might have to let a perfectly nice person go, simply because what they offer isn’t good enough for your clients.
Auditioning teachers before bringing them on full time will allow you to see if they are a good fit for the community and clientele. It’s like offering a new employee a ‘trial period’, or taking references before you hire someone.
You will learn more about yourself and your business from these mistakes than anything else. Embrace the process.
And that’s it! Running a yoga studio is a lot of hard work, but if you’re ready for a challenge and can commit to the path less travelled, you’ll be rewarded!
Are you running your own studio? What are you grappling with? What do you wish you’d know before starting out? Please share in the comments below!
Jules Barber‘s passion for yoga spans more than a decade. Having fixed a chronic back problem with yoga, she trained with Rita Chohan at Yoganesh in 2011. Jules has a strong interest in yoga for stress and adrenal fatigue. In her classes you will find creative vinyasa sequences with a killer soundtrack. Jules is the manager of Grounded and is about to launch Yoginomics, a business resource for newly qualified yoga teachers.