As a yoga practitioner, you may have dreamt about opening a Yoga Studio. It sounds exciting, but it can be a nightmare for people who have never owned their own business. Some people assume that if they know how to teach yoga, they know how to run a yoga business simply because they understand the technical aspects of teaching yoga. However, the technicalities of a business and the teaching of yoga are two different things!
Here are several steps to follow:
1- Create a business plan. Write a winning business plan, even if you aren’t looking for investors. Having a dream to be a business owner is worthy, but it’s advanced planning that will turn that dream into a reality. After all, if you don’t understand what your expenses are going to be, it makes no sense to get started at all. A business plan will help you to select the right space, hire an appropriate number of employees, and determine how much risk you are able to take.
Because leasing and building out a space will be your biggest startup cost, it is imperative that you decide how much space you will need per student and where, exactly, it makes the most sense to open your doors. A good rule is to figure on needing roughly 21 square feet for every practitioner. This estimate takes into account a two-by-six-foot mat and still allows for one to two extra feet per person.
When writing a business plan, be as realistic as possible about your start-up time, what percentage of your revenue will be spent on marketing, and what percentage of your revenue should go to rent. Naturally, the duration of your start-up time–the period between signing a lease and opening your studio’s doors–depends on how long it takes to prepare your space for business. How much you spend on marketing will be driven by how many students you can rely on at the outset.
The percentage of your income that should go toward rent will vary by location, but many studio owners advise that you anticipate spending up to a third of your revenue on rent in the first year, and a quarter or less in subsequent years.
Writing a business plan will force you to write down literally everything that you are going to need to start your business. Some of your initial assumptions about those needs will be correct while others won’t be. Don’t be surprised. More importantly, don’t be disillusioned.
2- Legal matters and insurance. Be willing to invest in professional development and help. As a teacher, you must continually work on your classes and your business strategy. Be prepared to pay for expert help (lawyers, accountants, business advisors, etc.).
3- Choosing your location and target market. Here you have some options as follows:
- Teach from home.
- Rent space for a few yoga classes per week.
- Lease a full-time space.
- Open a franchise or chain.
- You must decide whether you want to set up shop in a city or in its outskirts. When it comes to suburban areas, the most important rule is simply to stick to the most centralized location you can find. You want to make yourself as available as possible to as many localities and potential students as possible.
- A couple of things to keep in mind when going with the city: marketing will be easier (most of it will be word of mouth), making parking available to your students will not.
- Once you’ve decided on the location, you should focus on what the buildings you’re considering have to offer. You may want to get an illuminated space, one that is open and spacious, and one with ventilation.
- Be careful not to encroach on the territory of a studio offering the same types of services and classes. Obviously, such close competition might make it tougher for you to attract and retain students.
- The next step is to educate yourself about the commercial rental market in your community. A little research and the help of a Real Estate professional will help.
4- Name your studio.
5- Set up prices for classes, drops-in, monthly or annual promotion, and private sessions.
6- Market your classes to attract students. The following are considerations related to promotion and marketing:
- You will need to promote your new studio.
- Get advertised in the newspaper, magazines, flyers, etc.
- Many teachers do lots of things to promote their business including giving free talks, free demonstrations, writing articles, etc.
- Part of your marketing work should involve doing promotional work to get your classes and programs visible to the public. Unless you are well-known, be prepared to give before you get.
7- Budget. Instead of just rent and marketing don’t forget the “extras” that you will need to spend money on, including the following:
- Furnishings and equipment.
- Paint, decoration, and repairs.
- Revenue and expenses.
8- Plan the teachings of the Yoga Classes and other services.
9- Hire staff. You can’t do everything on your own! You may find some help by contacting a counselor to America’s Small Businesses. This is a nonprofit association dedicated to providing free, confidential, face-to-face and email business counseling, mentoring and training. You can also get private business coaches, and many colleges offer Small Business Development Centers which can assist you with entrepreneurial issues and growing your business.
The bottom line to making your business successful – you’ll need to be smart about your time and resources. You have to be committed to the process and not hinge your well-being on results. If you decide to open your own studio, make sure that you have what it takes to stay. Attitude and perseverance are half the battle. You will be a business owner if you treat your business like a “business” from day one.