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April 17, 2011

Broke Teacher II: How Your Business Will Save the World (and You).

I have a consistent reoccurring dream.  I am wandering an airport terminal waiting for a flight. There are several different scenarios. Sometimes I am late. Sometimes I am evading an evil political organization.  Sometimes I never leave the Admirals Club.  But the core is always the same: the airport, a preeminent transition, and my dream self wondering around like Tom Hanks in The Terminal.

In my practical moments, I chalk this up to just coming off a very busy two years of consulting where I saw no less than four and no more then ten airport terminals a week.  In my poetic moments I like to interpret this dream as an expression of my psychological drive for motion, transition and change.

I see the yoga world, the healing world, and the conscious business world in a similar place – a place of hesitant transition and change.  But instead of this being a dream, it’s the unique opportunity of our time: endeavors of consciousness becoming conscious businesses.

The most poignant challenge to yoga business is that most teachers and wellness operators don’t understand they’re in business.  They don’t view their work as a business.  It’s viewed as something else, something different –  noble work in the world that, in a sense, can sacrifice revenue and profit (the foundation of a business) in order to do the noble work.

Sacrifice is ingrained into spiritual ideals.  In order to offer spiritual services I find that many sacrifice material abundance and business success to be spiritual, appear spiritual, or feel spiritual (this works especially well when there is a trust fund or financially successful lover involved).

The first lesson: recognize that you’re in business, and that business demands revenue.

Write down, right now: I’m in business.  Whether you’re a yoga teacher, meditation teacher, employee at someones’ business, studio owner or sole proprietor you’re in business.

Recently, in the airport dream the plane arrived, I boarded, and we took off.  Taking off felt perfect, relaxing, and peaceful, and I woke happy.  It’s time for us to transform our businesses, and let our business transform us (this is your evolutionary potential; spirit is the material, is it not?).  It’s time to board the airplane and take off.  This isn’t going to happen through rejecting, demonizing, getting by, or doing well by doing good, but by dreaming to the end, by getting on the airplane and taking off.  We have to recognize that we’re in business and work at our businesses.

Wrap your mind and heart around this.  Get into it.  Think it.  Feel it.  Own it.

If you were to measure your work and value in the world through the business lens, how would you score?  How’s your business?  Write it down.  Write down, I am in business and I give myself a ____ score.

A business is a very simple thing.  You have something people want, a service or product, and they give you something for it.  There are many definitions of what a business model is, and the simplest and most direct, the most beneficial, is what you offer, who you offer it to, and what they give you for it. That’s a business model.

What’s your business model?  Think about it.  What do you offer?  Who do you offer it to?  What do they give you for it?  Your first step towards breaking through the boundaries that hold you back and ultimately hold the world back is to own that you’re in business and to own your business.  In spiritual terms, be honest with yourself and where you are.  You can’t get anywhere unless you know where you are.

So, what’s your business model?  Write it down.  What do you offer?  Who do you offer it to?  What do they give you for it?  Write it down in detail.  Now, reconsider your score – how’s your offering?  Are you offering everything you can?  Are you offering to everyone you can reach?  Are you receiving the right exchange for your services?

Once you own your business and your business model, you can begin to grow.  You can begin to transform yourself and your business.  I recommend spending time with these exercises every day for a week (the questions are listed below).  It’s time to leave the terminal, the bardo, and get on the airplane.  Buckle up – there’s a lot of work to do.

The Exercises

1. Write down: I am in business.

2. Give yourself a score from 1 – 10.  How well do I run my business?

3. Answer: What do I offer?  What’s my product?  What are all the different offerings I have?

4. Answer: Who do I offer to?  Who are my customers?  What customers am I going for?

5. Answer: What do my customers give me for my products?

6. Answer: What else might I offer?

7. Answer: Who else might I offer my products?

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