It can be so exciting to open your own business. Especially the one that you have immense passion, love, and belief in.
As I transitioned from a corporate sales role to opening up my yoga studio, I was initially filled with anticipation, fear, and lots of hope.
In my eyes, ‘yoga’ was peace, love, and connection, and everything and anything related to my studio would be protected by this intense belief. However, reality slowly began to set in, and my positive beliefs were soon replaced by stress, tension and many sleepless nights.
Here are three important things I learned that will hopefully help you as you embark on your venture of opening a yoga studio.
Mistake #1. Using Groupon
Our yoga studio while beautiful and serene is set apart from the business of the everyday world. In fact, it is set amongst nature in the back of our 10-acre property. Your practice is witnessed by the trees, the sunshine, the blue sky and all the small animals that make there way across the grass to the studio’s windows.
Sounds beautiful, right? It sure is. The unfortunate downside of this luxury yoga retreat style studio is the lack of street-side advertisement. Quite simply, there is none! There are no signs and no drop-in traffic. I built my business primarily through the word of mouth, diverse studio offerings, and social media advertising, a mere 7 years ago.
However, back in the early days, I struggled with the empty classes. I agonized over how I was going to spread the word about my business.
Through this stress filled time, someone mentioned the idea of Groupon. This seemed like a great option! Selling a class pass at a 60 percent discount to draw in a wider audience to the studio? SOLD!
Now, what actually happened when I offered Groupon deals was not sunshine and roses.
The majority of people that came to the studio through Groupon were interested in the reduced rate, for that period of time and that was where it ended. Groupon screamed deal and most people were searching for just that and nothing more.
Groupon brought us clients who were one time only purchasers and most of them knew nothing about yoga. Some of these new ‘clients’ expected multiple classes for free, free mats, free water and the option to change what they had originally signed up for.
In the end, less than 2 percent of people actually signed up for additional memberships through this offering. It simply was not worth the pain and suffering we endured trying to accommodate the deal seekers.
Word of mouth, social media advertising, and good quality workshops that appeal to diverse markets will work like a charm.
Quick and dirty is never really the right route.
Mistake #2. Not researching your guest instructors
Let’s face it, the spiritual market is huge. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but in the earlier years of the studio, I encountered some guests teachers whose workshops and seminars did not live up to their promise.
Once two guest teachers promised complete emotional freedom through a 2-day workshop and personalized healing sessions. The sessions and the workshop disappointed our clients.
The sessions were overly brief and very expensive. The workshop was chaotic and did not offer exercises or personal work to help ignite any kind of transformation process.
This was a huge lesson for me and one I will never forget.
It’s very important to do your research on any guests you may be considering welcoming into your space.
Check their websites (hopefully, they have one), google search reviews on them, or best of all, ask other studio owners for their recommendations or feedback on the guest teacher in question.
Mistake #3. Hiring wrong teachers
There are more teacher trainings today than there were even 5 years ago. This means that it isn’t hard to find a yoga teacher who is looking for work. There is a surplus of anxious yogis looking to teach anywhere and everywhere.
It’s important to choose wisely. Ideally, you are looking for teachers who are similar to you energetically. This doesn’t mean that you have to have loads of stuff in common but rather refers to how you feel when you are around them. Check in with your intuition around the teacher you are interested in hiring. Have coffee with them, invite them to come to your class, get to know who they are outside of their teaching.
The teachers that work for you should have a business building mindset and be actively interested in marketing their classes.
Remember, my business did not have signage or street side traffic, therefore it was important that my teachers shared my business growth strategies.
Demo it out. Have the teacher you are considering hiring perform a demo class for you. Ask them to teach a 20 min class identical to the class they are desiring to teach at the studio. Throughout this demo, you’ll be able to get a better sense of their connection to yoga and therefore their greater connection to the students.
The adventure in opening and operating your own yoga studio is one that will never cease to amaze you. You’ll meet a lot of incredible people and learn valuable life lessons along the way. As you grow and learn along the way, so will your yoga studio.
Illustration by Valeria Ko.