The yoga studio owner certainly seems like one of the industry’s most glamorous career paths.
Studio owners have their own space, they manage teachers, they are the incubators of the yoga community. It all seems so official—and it is! But for every studio that’s thriving, there are 5 more struggling to make it work. There is a lot of competition. There are a lot of operating costs. And there is a lot more to do than just teaching yoga.
I don’t say any of this to deter you. I too once had a dream of owning a yoga studio. I pursued it and when it no longer served me, I let it go. I have no regrets, because I learned so many valuable lessons about life and about business during that time— lessons that I now get to share with you.
I want to support you in your dream of opening a yoga studio (if that is, in fact, your dream) and part of support is asking the tough questions.
Are you ready to spend long hours at the studio to get it up and running? We’re not talking about 10 hour shifts here. We’re talking about all hours of the day and night.
Are you ready to be the accountant, the marketing manager, the toilet scrubber and the yoga teacher? If you’re not ready to be all things to all people, you do need to be ready to put up the dollars it’s going to cost you to hire help.
Are you ready to truly be the boss? Sure, being girl boss is super glam, but it doesn’t feel that way when you have to cut someone’s class (or fire someone all together).
I hear from a lot of aspiring studio owners who want to open studios because they want to teach more classes and they want to make a living from yoga. The studio model seems like the quickest way to do this.
Building a studio is anything but quick. It takes years of persistence.
Persistence may actually be the single most important secret to becoming a successful studio owner. I do, however, strongly suggest that you work on some other very important skills like…
- Being extroverted
- Business & marketing (or an investment in business coaching or a partner who can handle the business side of things)
I’ve seen so many talented yoga educators go into the process of building a studio without truly understanding the scope of what they are undertaking. Most of the time there’s a lot more paperwork and fire extinguishing than actual yoga. This can quickly become disenchanting—especially when there’s not enough money coming in.
The cost of rent is going up, but the cost of yoga is not. Studio owners everywhere are turning to teacher training programs to help drive revenue so that they can keep their doors open and their teachers paid. Here’s a truth bomb for you: Owning a studio and being a teacher trainer are two different career paths that require two different skill sets. While I’ve met many studio owners who balance the two roles with grace, they do so with a lot of help. If you can’t afford help, adding a teacher training program is not the answer.
But there are answers.
Be strategic before you put down roots.
If you want a successful studio, you have to plan for it. The “field of dreams” approach to business planning doesn’t work out. You can build it, but they may not come. Market research is crucial to understand where there is a need for a studio. Future studio owners need to do more than assume there’s a need for a studio simply because there is no studio already there. Look into who lives in the area, where they spend their time and whether or not yoga is enough of a priority for them that they will pay for it. Without this information, you’ll be building your business on a wing and a prayer.
Streamline the simple things.
Simplify, simplify, and simplify some more. Instead of selling per-class packages only, set up auto-debit memberships: they increase revenue significantly. This is why you won’t find a gym in town pushing single sessions or month-to-month memberships. Not only does auto-debit ensure that there is money in the studio’s pocket, but it also encourages students to commit to their practice. Everyone wins.
Your creativity is your friend, dear future Studio Owner. Think broad, diverse and interesting. Bring in retail. Rent out the studio space on weekend afternoons for Kid’s Yoga Birthday parties. Offer series courses on Meditation, Tai Chi, Adult Ballet, Green Cleaning, Aromatherapy, or Wellness. Offer an upgraded membership that allows students to use the space for personal practice (or Mysore) during certain time slots. Offer small group privates. Rent your space to studio-less teacher trainings— these are all options that drive revenue without creating a ton of work for yourself. Because the last thing you’re going to need as a studio owner is more work.
Finally, you can do everything right and still suffer from the scourge of small business ownership: overworking and under-earning. Which is why it’s so important to know your BIG WHY.
Why do you want to own a studio?
After you answer that question, dig a little deeper and ask yourself why one or two more times. We are looking for the deep down reasons, the reasons that will drive you to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when it feels like you’re not moving forward.
If you know your WHY and you’re motivated by more than just the perks of being the boss, setting the rules and being a local celebri-yogi, your chances of survival are high.
Do you have a dream of owning a studio— or any kind of yoga biz, for that matter? Head over and sign up for the Like a Yogi interview series. Hear from yoga professionals who are living their dreams and find out just how they got there.