5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Yoga Studio

Kellie Adkins | Wisdom Method | Yoga Business

Autumn marks my sixth year in the yoga business, with several of those years spent as a yoga studio owner. In the Fall of 2008, I made the shift from private yogini-for-hire and gym-and-studio teacher to having my own space: Jeweled Lotus Yoga.  The picture here is our 3-year Biz-a-versary, hub + little one in tow!

I started the studio with bright eyes, an optimistic outlook, and a solid business plan. But I also opened the studio with some major oversights caused by my yogi-centric ethics of service.

Yoga studios are the heart of the yoga industry. They are a place for community, collaboration, creativity, and connection. Yoga studios are a safe and sacred space where you can show up, sweat, serve, and grow. More than anything, I want yoga studios to succeed! Yet seeing two of my own mentors close their studios, making the hard decision to close my own studio, and seeing so many other studio owners struggle is evidence enough that you can’t just “build it and they will come.”

If you are ready to make the leap from group class teacher or private yogi to a Yoga Studio Owner, read on for my list of what you must know to make your studio a success.

1. Owning a studio is a business.

Um, I know it’s a little obvious, but too many studios run their business like a church or a community center. Dollars through the door keep your doors open. You must charge for your classes, and you must begin to think like a business-person. Your most precious commodity now is your time and the services you can offer during your billable hours. If you are giving your classes away for free or undercharging, your studio will fail. You can no longer afford to offer free classes* or services {same goes for barter, in most cases…though that is a longer conversation!}. Yogis have bills, too.

*You can continue to provide complementary classes as a way to nurture your community: see tip #2.

2. A studio needs a community.

Your yoga studio is a business AND a community service. As a studio owner, you are now a small business owner with a commitment to your local community. Your success depends on the health of your surrounding community and the health of the small businesses around you! Get involved in your community, your local Chamber of Commerce, or other small businesses that serve similar clientele. Not only will this allow you to find perfect-for-you clients in other areas, it will build your business brand.

 

Furthermore, a studio is itself a micro-community. Nurturing your relationships with students, clients, other teachers, and your support staff makes for a strong community AND a stronger business. Those of you with more introverted personalities will need to work harder at this aspect of your business.

 

Think about how you can provide your current clientele a community-building experience that strengthens the connection they have with your space {your business}. For example, one of community-building offerings I provided during my years in business included seasonal Open Houses. I hired the teachers to come provide free mini-classes {20 minute short ‘previews’ of all your class offerings}, a massage therapist to provide 15-minute chair massage and -of course- delicious snacks and beverages! Many people {especially new-to-yoga folks} are intimidated by studio culture and are unsure of what yoga actually IS. Take away some of their initial resistance by providing a non-threatening, enjoyable entry-point into the heart of your business. *BONUS TIP! Offer new students a discount on a package during the Open House and current students another kind of incentive {such as: 25% off retail or a private session}.

 

Most importantly, remember that the heart of all business is relationship. Keep thinking of how you can GIVE more to your community–nurturing relationships will result in loyal, happy, enthusiastic clients who are more than willing to tell their friends about your biz. So keep at it: the pay-off is a thriving yoga kula within your studio.

 

3. Your business is your brand {and your brand is you}.

Most yoga teachers {my past-self included} are lost when it comes to terms like brand identity. To oversimplify the conversation a bit, you are now the face of your business…and of your brand. There are, of course, exceptions to this, the primary exception begin affiliate and franchise studio owners who buy into a licensed studio with an established brand identity. For the rest of us, especially small studio owners, you are a reflection of your business: and vice versa.  Allow your business to be an expression of your authentic, unique self.

P.S. Although your business is/will become your brand …keep your business and your personal social media accounts separate {Why? More on that in a future post!}

 

4. You can serve anyone, but you can’t serve everyone.

I know, I know, I know ~ Everybody needs yoga!! But you need to be clear on whom YOU/your studio serve(s). Because you may choose to serve anyone…but you will never serve everyone! And let’s be clear: positioning yourself in a saturated yoga market is crucial to your success.

Take a moment to think of your favorite client or student.

How old are they?

  • What do they do?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • Are they married? With kids?
  • Where do they hang out on the weekends?
  • What kind of books do they read?
  • What other services do they already pay for {massage, pedicures, facials, acupuncture}?
  • What do they want more than anything?
  • What do they believe in with all their heart?
  • What is important to them?
  • What do they want more than anything?
  • What is their biggest frustration?

Questions like the above allow us to get clear on how WE are the perfect person to serve a small group of people: our tribe. When we begin to identify the group of people {our business’s WHO} whom we can help, whom we understand, and with whom we connect, WHAT we offer becomes much more clear!

P.S. The questions above are a small sample of the Find Your WHO Dream Client Worksheet ~ all part of the Enlightened Entrepreneur Mentorship.

 

5. Overestimate your time + money investment, underestimate your profit.

When I opened my studio, I naively thought our initial investment would last us 2 years. And that I would have 2 weekends off every month {after the first year}. My profit-loss projections fell short and I worked over 2 1/2 years before I had a weekend off!

I say this to reinforce number 1: having a yoga studio is a business. Wrap that up with all the business needs a new small business has and you may as well call it what it is: a new baby! Be prepared to make sacrifices for your biz baby for as long as it takes.

 

If you’re considering opening a studio or turning your passion for yoga into a profitable business, I would love to support you!

In my coaching practice, I work one-on-one with multi-passionate conscious entrepreneurs who want to create a business that helps them make a difference and a living.

Get started with a pro bono Breakthrough To Clarity session here.

 

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  • Tim Hutchinson

    Kelli,

    Spot on Kelli, as always, I enjoy your insights and wisdom.

    Hugs,

    tim

    • http://www.kellieadkins.com Kellie

      Thanks, Tim! XO

  • Brittany

    Hi Kellie,

    I am considering opening a yoga studio that also offers massage therapy. My goal is to creat a studio that promotes relaxation and stress release.

    I was a dancer for 18 years and enjoy Hatha Yoga but am not a teacher myself. I have a business and marketing background.

    Do you feel I would be able to run a successful studio without being a yoga instructor myself?

    Thanks,
    Brittany

    • http://www.kellieadkins.com Kellie

      Hi Brittany!

      That is a tough one. A couple questions for you: do you have a group of dedicated teachers who already have a following? If not, do you have a studio manager who is a yoga teacher? The reason I ask those questions is that the studio director frequently covers the majority of classes, at least initially, while the studio is getting started. And as the studio owner, students will have a strong connection to you individually, so it’s a good idea to offer something {if not yoga, then perhaps a ballet/Barre/pilates class}. Also, the studio director {or manager} usually subs if a teacher can’t make it – if you’re not trained as a teacher, you will need to hire someone full or part time to fill that role.

      Give this all a serious think. I believe it could work; however, your path may be a little more challenging because you are not a teacher. Let that be extra EXTRA motivation to create a solid business plan with a ton of support staff.

      Hope that helps! Feel free to reach out if you’d like some more focused support in your journey.

      Namaste,

      Kellie

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  • Courtney Robinson

    Hey there Kellie, I have really been rolling around the idea of opening a non-franchised barre studio (community style/affordable) and would love to pick your brain. Would you be willing to chat with me?

    • kellie_adkins

      Hi Courtney, thanks for reaching out! I offer 30 minute Breakthrough sessions (complementary) that may help you sort out your next steps. You can fill out the form and book a session here: http://kellieadkins.com/breakthrough/

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