If you’re reading this, you either have or are considering opening your own yoga studio. That’s great, it’s an amazing journey filled with ups and downs that puts you control of your daily life. However, it can also be an incredibly stressful period of time with no guarantee that it will work. There will be some days where going back to the stale cubicles and the 9 to 5 prison sentence seems like the Emerald City. In this post, I'll outline aspects I wish I knew when opening a yoga studio.
Are You Ready To Go Bankrupt?
Are you ready to go bankrupt? That’s a really scary questions because it’s a possible reality you’ll have to face. I’ll be honest, I work really hard at trying not to be judgmental and when I am, I try to keep my mouth shut. However, when I read post about teachers getting upset because they’re not getting paid enough and see studio owners going on lavish vacations I have an overwhelming urge to throw a yoga block at them.....and then I breathe.
Being a business owner and renting space means you become personally responsible if your business fails. So if you can’t pay your rent and are evicted, you are still responsible for paying what you owe on the lease on many commercial properties. You take on all of the risk. This my friends is incredibly stressful. Don’t get me wrong, I truly feel for yoga teachers who are underpaid or mistreated. However, as a teacher, you have the ability and freedom to walk away, as a studio, owner you do not; and you must be prepared that your dream of having a sacred space comes at risk of having a nightmare financial situation on your hands.
Am I Ready To Fail?
We talked about money but are you ready to fail? Are you ready to make horrible decisions and not dwell on them. If you schedule a workshop and no one shows up do you throw your hands up in the air and say it didn’t work or can you analytically look at your situation, discover your mistakes and try again. If you try again and only two people show up do you look at this as another failure or a step in the right direction? Business owners fail all the time and they must have the courage to keep going on a daily basis.
Failure is the big difference between an entrepreneur and a contractor or freelancer. When we put ourselves out there, when we sign a lease agreement, and become responsible for other people on a larger scale, we are at a much higher risk of failure. Failure become obvious, expensive, and its very easy for others to give us unwanted judgmental feedback which can almost be as loud as our own.
Are you ready to work hard....like harder than most people?
To this day, because of my yoga pants and non-9 to 5 schedule, a lot of people don’t think I work. There’s an assumption I’m wearing pajama like clothing, teaching a few classes a week and doing nothing else. What most people don’t realize is owning any type of business whether it be a store, insurance company, or yoga studio takes a lot of work. It takes time to not only build an audience but retain them. If you’ve headed to our Marketing section of the site, all of these ideas take time. You’re the HR Manager, the IT person, the cleaning lady, the event planner, the sales team, think of any organization and the type of employees they need to run and you are all of them. Be prepared to work 16 hour days sometimes for weeks at time.
Also, keep in mind, your love of yoga will now turn into work. Something you work very hard at everyday to feed yourself and your family. For some of people, this is enticing. While others, couldn't fathom working that hard in something they love because it becomes less fun and more of a job.
Can you manage highs and lows?
In my first year of business, people asked me what the hardest thing about running my business was. By far, it was managing the highs and lows. On great days, I felt that my life was amazing and I would be floating on clouds. Then we would have bad days where an unexpected expense came or we didn’t make any money for 8 days straight and I wished I never opened my business. Then I would hit another high and back to another low. Being an entrepreneur is an emotional roller coaster. You need to be emotionally strong and resilient. One book I loved reading was “Peak and Valleys” which helped me navigate the heart aspect of running the business. I highly recommend it.
Peace, Love, and “Employee” Issues
I use “employee” in quotes since sometimes studio have employees or contractors, which is a whole other debate. We open yoga studios because we love yoga and love community. Contrary to some online posts, most of us want to help both our teachers and our students.
In reference to going bankrupt or simply not being able to pay your own bills, running a studio efficiently and for it to be profitable adds on another layer besides just spreading joy. Your teachers’ actions are not only affecting your yoga studio but your personal livelihood and you are the protector of both. So are you ready to handle difficult conversations. When a teacher is asking for a raise and you haven't paid yourself in 6 months are you going to be able to say no gracefully with the potential to lose them or feel their wrath on Facebook (oh yeah, that's a thing).
This means being able to have difficult and uncomfortable discussions with employees such as punctuality, cleanliness, complaints, appropriate dress, professionalism, payment and so on. Some teachers will be understanding while others just don’t understand why fairly obvious are important. You need to have some thick skin and excuse my gender inappropriate stereotype but some balls. If this is not your forte, and you don't have the income to hire someone else to manage your staff for you, opening a studio may not be right.
The purpose of this post isn’t to sound negative to discourage anyone from opening. Being a business owner is by far one of the best decisions I have made. Unfortunately, I’ve seen other businesses come and go who weren’t fully prepared and it was heart breaking to watch their dreams shatter because they weren’t ready for the obstacles. As yoga lovers, mindfulness will help us run our business. It is also includes be mindful of potential obstacles and whether we are ready and willing to handle them.
Yoga studio owners....what other things do you wish you knew when opening your yoga studio? Please leave a comment below.
Studio Revenues and Challenges: Listen to the podcast episode where Michael Sheridan and I chat about building revenue and other studio challenges.