April 4, 2010

How to Start a Successful Yoga Studio.

A view through the window at one of the two Om Time Yoga Studios in Colorado.

Rooting Your Passion to Raise a Successful Yoga Studio.

2nd in a series: #1: Why (not) to Start a Yoga Studio.

“A studio owner can be a community leader, accountant, plumber, sales person, customer service problem solver, marketer, janitor, and web master…all before the 7am class. Notice, I said, ‘can be.’ I did not say, ‘must be.'”

Consulting from a pattern of yogic language and the model of the chakras, we begin at the bottom and authentically rise. The chakras set a map of self-development and self-understanding. The root, the first chakra, carries the basic energy of survival and a relationship to the material world.

Even a spiritual business, set in the material world, must set a powerful and sustainable root into the marketplace. One must have a commitment to two things: surviving and thriving. To survive in the current yoga market, one must be savvy and sincere in business dealings, but also constantly nurtured and rejuvenated by working from a place of resonant passion.

From this place, energy can flow from what steadies you into what gives you inspiration to rise up into full meaning to meet the hearts and inspiration of others. By operating in a pure survival model, burn out ensues quickly. Exhaustion is the leading cause of failure to any new enterprise.

If I can give one piece of advice for any yoga entrepreneur, it is to recognize with the whole of your heart that operating a yoga studio takes a village.

There are things you can do, solo and well, at 2am in your underwear to support the back-end of a company. However, it is important that we discuss the fact that the second a lease is signed, it is a living, breathing commitment. Your studio, like any newborn, demands constant attention. Any company has millions of things rising and falling at all times. Trying to do it all by yourself is unreasonable—a potential neutralizer to your true passions.

Consulting for yoga studios all over the world, my two greatest professional realizations are that, one, most yoga studios are founded by fantastic artists who saw the opportunity to tap into a larger profit margin by striking out on their own and making a home under their own shingle. And, two, what most of these teachers learn is that operating a business is unlike teaching a killer class. Overhead is a reality. Bank statements that must be reconciled just keep coming every month. Toilets clog before class. Teachers hired to teach classes sometimes do not show up, or (gulp) do not represent you and your studio vision as you would choose to be represented.

A studio owner can be a community leader, accountant, plumber, sales person, customer service problem solver, marketer, janitor, and web master…all before the 7am class. Notice, I said, “can be.” I did not say, “must be.”

Opening your yoga studio can be a great celebration of choice.

Consider what it is you really love to do in regards to yoga. If you could choose to spend your time doing any aspect of taking your passion for yoga public, where do you desire to place your attention?   What are your unique gifts? Where is it in the following tasks you excel or feel a little less sparkly? Be deeply honest with yourself in reference to where your gifts do not shine forth. Rate each skill with your self-perceived level of embodied ability between one and ten (one being lower resonance to personal skill and ten being high):

• Teaching
• Organizing
• Programming and Keeping a Calendar
• Events and Workshops
• Sales and Customer Service
• Day-to-Day Bookkeeping
• Graphic Design
• Creativity and Vision
• Accounting and Reconciliation
• Human Resources and Staffing
• Legal Issues
• Marketing and Public Relations
• Web Workings
• Writing, Blogging, Tweeter, Facebook
• Construction and Maintenance
• Cleaning
• Returning Calls and Emails

Each task and skill above is leveraged in the daily execution of a yoga studio. One could wear each hat, each day. If one’s true passion lies in teaching great yoga classes and sparking inspiration alive while teaching ten classes a week, several of the above tasks can begin to dull creativity and even verbal clarity in the studio.

Further, can the sheer work load keep you from your personal practice? You bet it can. If your greatest love of yoga is your personal practice it must be a commitment at the very core of your being to keep it. Keeping a resonance to your passion, what feeds you, what nurtures you and replenishes you, actually sustains you when the nights get long and the cash flow gets tight.

The solution to an endless to do list that is not in line with your passions is…community. If you feel overwhelmed at this point, it is time to consider potential partners (with an opposite skill set), volunteers, family, friends and help, help, help in the areas you are less strong. Offer yourself the mental bandwidth to let your gifts ensure success.

One need not have a labor figure that trumps the maid service at Trump Tower, you get to be creative with the way you trade yoga for nearly anything listed above. Begin a conversation with everyone you meet and perhaps, just perhaps, you will find threads to braid an outstanding tapestry of support, connection and community.

A successful business depends upon leveraging one’s actual strengths with the real world. You get to choose how you relate with yourself, your passion, your business and your choices—not in spite of it being a business in the industry of yoga, but especially because you align to this fantastic pulse.

Here’s to the Rooting and Rising,

– These blogs are based on Shannon’s Take a Comfortable Seat, An Invitation to Your Own Inspiration, A Yoga Studio Owner to Be’s Workbook Through the Chakras, Ideas and Action Steps. Available Fall 2010.

Bonus, one of our first talk shows ever:

Elevision August 02, 2007Shannon overcame cancer and Joe a career at one of Boulder’s most lively bars to devote their lives to Om Time—studio, boutique and independent yoga hub.

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