April 16, 2014

How Do I Know If I’m Ready To Teach Yoga Full Time?

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You’ve been teaching for a few years now.

Your classes are growing, you’re getting more and more private clients, and you’ve even hosted some successful workshops that were well attended.

But, how do you know if you’re really ready to take the leap and teach yoga full-time?

As a business and marketing coach for yoga teachers, I get asked this question a lot.

And, while there’s no one test that will determine without-a-doubt when someone’s ready to teach yoga full-time, there are a number of factors that will indicate readiness on the yoga hobby-to-career spectrum.

Thinking about pursuing a passion full-time is a scary prospect for anyone, especially if it means letting go of the security of steady part-time or full-time income. Or, sometimes, we simply doubt that we have what it takes to build a viable yoga business.

Whatever the case may be, consider the following questions to discover if teaching full-time is the right choice for you. (Because, sometimes we need to do a little objective analysis before we can pursue our heart’s calling.)

Answer the following questions honestly and openly: 

Remember, this is not an exact science, and there is always going to be some fear, nervousness and doubt when we make any big change in our lives. But remember this, too, we’re the only ones who can truly determine if teaching yoga full-time is the right path for us. These questions that I’m sharing, if addressed with an honest, open heart, will help bring clarity to this bold decision.

Do you make a reliable income from teaching yoga?

Now, this doesn’t mean that we need to know the exact amount down to the penny that we’re bringing in every month, or that we need to be making a “killing” from teaching, but if we want yoga to be our full-time gig, we need to establish a general (reliable) ballpark.

Making steady money (even if it’s not a ton of money) is vital and a key indicator that things are working well. We need to give ourselves time to grow our businesses and incomes, but we need to start somewhere — and steady money is important. It gives us something that we can rely on, and a jumping off point for setting income and business goals.

Which leads us to our next question…

Is your yoga business growing?

Take inventory of class sizes, number private clients and online following. Are those numbers growing? Is more money coming into the business than there was 6 months ago? Are students asking for ways to deepen their work with you?

Growth is an important litmus test for any business, and it’s a great gauge that we can use to predict how our businesses will fair in the future. So, before we look to the future of our yoga businesses, let’s look back.

Let’s consider where we’ve come from, and track that growth month-by-month. Then we can use that growth curve as a general predictor to project future growth 6 months, 1 year or 5 years from now!

Do you have a savings cushion or other monetary support?

Entrepreneurial endeavors can take time (often more time than we would like) to blossom into viable businesses that offer full-time income. So, we need to have patience, but patience can wear thin very quickly when we’re strapped for cash and worrying about finances.

Before we take the leap and quit current part-time or full-time jobs, we need to ensure our financial safety nets. (As  a general rule of thumb, a savings cushion of 6 months of income is suggested.

Or, if you’re in a relationship or have someone in your life who is willing to help and support you, talk to them openly about your goals and make sure they’re completely on board with your decision to start your yoga business (since they might be the dominant breadwinner for a while).

I know that we yogis sometimes shy away from money and business conversations, but the truth is, we need to get comfortable having frank and honest conversations about money with the people we love in order to build a healthy, thriving business!

And that brings us to the next question to consider…

Do you have a support system?

We all need support, especially during times of change and uncertainty. Support can come in a number of forms: family, friends, fellow yoga teachers, mentors, coaches or even other business owners.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we should shelve our dreams if there are a couple people in our lives who poo-poo our goals. It simply means that it’s important to know who is on our team so that we can turn to them when obstacles arise, questions come up or worry sets in.

It’s especially important to have a business mentor who can advise you – someone who’s walked the path, knows the ropes and can help you avoid the pitfalls before they become an issue for your budding business. Consider successful full-time yoga teachers that you know, fellow small business owners, or requesting some time with a yoga business coach.

Is your current part-time or full-time job stifling the growth of your yoga business?

This is a biggie.

If our current non-yoga work is clearly getting in the way of our yoga business’s growth and costing us clients, money and opportunities, this is a great sign!

It means our yoga biz is primed for takeoff. Sure, there are still other factors to consider (like the other questions I’ve mentioned here), but this is a very clear indicator that a full-time yoga career could be right around the corner.

And this brings us to an important question…

Do you have a plan?

When it comes to building a fun, fulfilling and sustainable yoga business, we cannot just fly by the seat of our yoga pants. We need to have a clear vision and a plan for our businesses if we truly want them to success.

This means that before we can launch ourselves full-throttle into our new entrepreneurial endeavor, we need to have a detailed plan of action.

Before quitting a job or announcing to the world that we’re now teaching full-time, we need to sit down and map out our goals for the year.

We need to really consider where we’d would like to be 12 months from now; what offerings, services, products, or classes we hope to have; and what kind of monthly income we anticipate.

Then, once we have a clear picture of where we’re hoping to go, it’s time to reverse-engineer the year.

Work backwards from the big goals to figure out what you need to be doing 6 months from now, next month, and even this week to move your yoga biz forward.

Will you regret not pursuing teaching full-time?

As yoga teachers, we often speak to our students about “trusting your gut” or “listening to your intuition”, and in this case, we need to take our own advice.

The truth is, we all know deep down in our gut if teaching full-time is the right move for us. Sure, it might be a big move, a scary move, a “holy-cow can I really do this?” move, but if we’ll regret not giving our yoga career a real shot, we’ve got to give it a try!

Simply put, if your gut says “go for it”, then there’s really no other option is there? Taking an honest gut (and heart) check is one of the best indicators full-time teaching readiness.

Sure, there will still be moments of worry, doubt and some fear, but if the desire to teach and the vision we hold for our yoga businesses speaks loudly enough to outweigh the things that stop so many, we are well positioned to make teaching yoga full-time a reality.

We need passion and drive to be truly successful at any leap of faith, and if we have that, we’re worlds closer to our yoga careers taking off than we may even realize!

There are still a lot of “practical” factors to consider (like all the aforementioned questions), but a gut-check is one of the clearest indicators of emotional readiness.

My best advice? Don’t give yourself something to regret. Life is too short!


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Eoin Finn via Wiki Commons

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