Vision, Meet Reality!

Are you ready to open your own yoga practice? It’s well within your reach if you follow these eight steps.

Your time is now. You’ve contemplated it for years, planned it for months, and dreamed about it since before you can even remember. It’s time to make your vision a reality. It’s time to start your own yoga practice.

Despite the risks that accompany any new business venture, getting into the yoga business is an attainable and savvy move. Some 37 million people practiced yoga last year, and those numbers continue to rise as yoga entrenches itself into American fitness culture.

But there still are risks. That’s why we’re providing a simple, eight-step plan to help you get your practice up and running, while keeping some avoidable risks out of the picture.

1.    Focus. Focus. Focus. Starting your own yoga practice opens exciting new opportunities and a few temptations that were probably inconsequential when you had another source of income. Whether it’s lingering in bed another half hour in the morning or taking the afternoon off, distractions abound. Operating a viable business takes discipline to carry through on your plans and an ability to focus on what’s important. Take a full inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. Then, get ready to work!

2.    Get real about costs. A good place to start is by estimating what it will take to pay the bills. Costs may include rent on the studio, utilities, staff, supplies, marketing, income taxes, and periodic support services. Your revenue needs to cover these overhead expenses, with enough left over for you to live off. How many classes will you need to conduct each week? What is the minimum attendance you’ll need? Will you need to add workshops? Private sessions? Retreats? Other events?

3.    Plan purposefully. Income from your current clients can provide a base of revenue for your business, but it probably won’t be enough to cover the additional expenses and income needs that you’ll have in running a business. Additional students will be needed. Think long and hard about who you will target. Seniors? Millennials? Young moms? For example, a lunchtime class may be an attractive option for workers at the industrial park down the road, while teachers at the local high school might find a late afternoon yoga class an ideal way to unwind from a stressful day. A marketing plan gives you direction.

4.    Reach for your target. Once you’ve identified your markets, how will you reach them? From social media to blogging to newsletters and email, there are lots of ways to get the word out. But consider your market before you forge ahead. Social media can be an effective way to reach millennials, but it may fall flat with seniors who would probably respond better to a presentation at their seniors’ center. Additionally, think about ways to maximize your reach with minimal effort. Your time is valuable, so cast a wide net and market efficiently.

5.    Get smart on price. A common pitfall of many fledging yoga businesses is underpricing. From a practical standpoint, it reduces your bottom line and adds unnecessary pressure to drum up more business. It also undervalues the expertise you’ve developed over the years. One way to gain a perspective on pricing is to do some research on what other comparable service providers such as physical therapists, personal trainers, and health clubs charge and use this information to establish a market rate. Research also helps to remove the angst about your professional worth and gives you an objective benchmark from which to set your fees.

6.    Create an immaculate space. In yoga, a thriving studio is an immaculate studio. Make sure your space is clean and orderly, and create a welcoming (and unintimidating) environment for your students. Being clean and professional adds to the holistic atmosphere of a yoga studio.

7.    Protect your practice. Welcoming the public into your studio has its risks. From a simple slip and fall to a twisted ankle, accidents happen. Some may only require an ice pack, but others can send a student to the emergency room. Costs can mount up quickly. Through no fault of your own, you could be liable for damages totaling thousands of dollars. And if a lawsuit is involved, the costs can be staggering. Liability for yoga instructors includes:

·         Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, which covers claims alleging negligence in providing or failure to provide professional services

·         General liability insurance that covers claims such as slip and falls that result in bodily injury or property damage and are caused by negligence related to your business

Both coverages protect you, your income, and your business from claims and lawsuits even if the charges are groundless.

8.    Expand your reach. Marketing, finance, accounting, risk management, and IT are all part of growing and operating a viable business. But you don’t have to be an expert in each one. Not good with numbers? Hire an accountant. Still a little fuzzy on how to use social media as a marketing tool? Attend a seminar. Never thought about the risks of operating a business? Talk to an insurance broker who knows your market. You may be on your own, but you’re not alone. There are many ways to either develop the resources you need or locate support services.

Operating your own yoga studio is an adventure. It will stretch what you thought were the limits of your ability and will help you grow in ways you never thought possible. But it does take some solid planning and professional advice to make your vision a reality. Are you ready?