It’s been on your mind for a little while now, you’ve had some ideas dancing around in your mind, and you’ve finally made the decision: you’re opening a yoga studio! The excitement rushes in, you feel it in your chest, it’s going to be fun… and it gradually wears out.
How? Where do I begin?
In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step on brainstorming, marketing, and opening your yoga studio as well as a checklist you can include on your vision board. Part of the article will also take you through a few pointers as to what to do once your studio is open.
Figure out what you want.
This might not seem like a strange place to start, but I do think it’s important. The first step to take before you open your own yoga studio is to define what you really want out of this studio, and what size of a space do you really need.
Often, I find that when I mentor yoga teachers that are taking the leap into opening a yoga studio, what they really need is something small where they can regularly hold their private sessions, events, and weekly classes and they don’t actually need a full-fledged yoga studio.
If you are looking for a space for less than 15 hours per week, it’s possible that you could look for a shared space or a creative collaborative studio that you can rent by the hour to teach in. This will be a step in the right direction, as you won’t be working for anyone but yourself, and you are in sole control of your schedule, pricing, and offerings, but you don’t have the responsibility of being the owner of the space.
Many places to consider are:
Doing this will keep your overhead costs low, and will also help you figure out if you have the following to eventually open up your own space.
Expect to pay a lot of money up front and low profit margins in the beginning.
If you know that the next step for your business is to open up your own studio, then prepare yourself for upfront costs and low profit margins in the beginning. Yoga studios are a slow burn, and you need to be in it for the long haul.
Things to consider when you’re looking at your overhead costs of opening a space include:
They add up, and it is expensive to open up a space at first but remember you are investing in your business and your dream of opening your own yoga studio. There are a few different ways that you can fund the opening of your business. This can include small business loans, personally funding it yourself, pre-selling memberships, or raising funds from your students.
Know your brand’s identity.
Knowing what you stand for as a business, and what audience you are serving is key to opening a yoga studio. Chances are there are already some yoga studios in your city, but there is certainly room for all of them, as long as you have a unique perspective and a certain niche that you focus on. Thinking about what kind of classes will you offer and being clear on your mission statement will help you stand apart from the crowd.
Make it clear what kind of a student you are looking for. Maybe you can focus on more physical practices, or you prefer softer more meditative practices, maybe you offer hot or warm classes, or perhaps you will solely serve pregnant and postpartum students.
Whatever it is, make sure you have a vision and an identity as a studio that you are clear on. This will also make marketing easier for you as you will know exactly what kind of student you will target.
Consider your location.
When opening a a yoga space, it’s important to consider location. You will want to find a space that has natural organic traffic, a space for your students to park, as well as the right size of room to practice in.
When you are picking a space consider all aspects of what you are looking for, and be clear about your budget and who you want to come to your studio. Consider where your ideal student is located and pick a location that is convenient for them.
Do you serve a lot of college students? Maybe look around the university, or perhaps you are serving moms and their children, that might be better suited tucked away from the city or by their children’s school. Whatever student you are serving make sure you give a lot of thought to the location of your studio and the amenities your buildings have based on your needs.
Consider hiring professionals to help get you started.
This is something that I wish I personally would have done more of when I was opening my own studio. I tried to do everything myself and I wasted a lot of time doing it this way. When you begin building your yoga studio you want everything to be just right, and that can sometimes stop us from outsourcing or delegating projects that you aren’t equipped to handle. When you are opening your own yoga studio consider saving a portion of your budget to outsource some of your projects to professionals that can help you get the ball rolling.
Hiring out a few projects such as building a website, having a financial planner take care of setting up your books and the financial paperwork for your business, or someone do the renovations in your studio. Outsourcing can free up your time to focus on teaching and marketing, as well as save you a lot of confusion and frustration as you try to do these things on your own.
Start small with staff, and make sure they are on board with your vision.
One of the largest portions of your financials will go to paying your staff, so when you first open think about how much teaching you can realistically do at first to save yourself the cost of hiring a lot of yoga teachers. It is however, important that you don’t overwork yourself and take on so much teaching that you burn yourself out and forget why you opened the studio to begin with.
Making smart hiring choices and making sure you have skilled, experienced teachers that are on board with your vision and have a unique perspective on teaching will help elevate your studio to the next level. Hiring great yoga teachers and giving them the freedom to teach in their own voice, and be creative within your vision will lead to happy teachers, great classes, and inspired students.
Create a business plan.
This may go without saying, but just to make it clear, do not open a yoga studio without a plan. One of the biggest mistakes that I see studio owners make is going into the studio opening blind without a clear business plan.
Plan out your marketing strategies, pricing, promotions, event timelines, financial projections, identify your ideal student, and market research. The more prepared and organized you are the better. Consult with other yoga studio owners, or reach out to those that have owned before to help build a plan and prepare yourself for a strong opening.
Don’t forget about protecting yourself.
It is important that before you let any students in the door that you and you space is insured. Make sure any other teachers that you have on board are also insured. Although it is unlikely that the worst will happen, it’s important to be prepared just in case it does.
It will bring you piece of mind, and also protect you and your studio in the event of an unfortunate event in your class. If you need personal coverage you can get that through beYogi, and for building insurance a quick google search will give you a list of providers for your area that can insure your studio.
Get excited and brainstorm.
The first step is often the most overlooked one. Brainstorming might not feel like active work because nothing is getting “done” strictly speaking but this will act as the foundation to your metaphorical house. It’s not necessarily pretty — although you can definitely make it so — it will guide your every step. Grab colorful markers, a big white sheet of paper, play your favorite music, grab a drink, and get writing.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
I highly recommend making this into a mind map. This article explains very well how to do them and why you want to use them for brainstorming. Once you’re done, you can hang this on your wall and go back to it every time you’re not sure what your next step has to be. Next to it, you can add other brainstorming sheets, like one specifically about finances, your branding, kinds of classes or events, schedule, and so on.
Research your area and find your space.
Whether you’ve just moved to the area or have been there for a while, it’s essential to take some time to investigate where you’ll have your studio. If you’re really determined about the area you want it in, this might take a while before you find the ideal space.
Open Craigslist, get in touch with a real estate agent if needed, open Facebook and find rental properties groups. If you’re looking to open close to other shops, ask around: have other owners heard anything? This is also a way to start getting the message around that a new yoga studio is going to open.
Create a studio name, website, and establish your brand.
Once you have the space you were looking for (or while you’re still searching), you can start to imagine what it’s going to look like. Go back to your brainstorming and mind mapping document and imagine how you’re going to materialize that vision.
What colors are you going to paint the walls, what kind of desk are you going to choose, what kind of decoration do you want? All those questions will be easier to answer now that you have your “why” established.
Create yourself a website so it’s easy for students to find you and all the information they need. Whether you choose Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress for your website, you can create a page that says “coming soon” and start collecting emails from there, so you can let people know about updates and the future opening date.
Now would also be a good time to make a list of all the supplies you need to make your vision a reality.
Get the supplies material you need.
Are you painting and decorating your space? Now that you know your “how”, it’s time to take a trip to your local home improvement supply store or hardware store. This can be stressful, especially if home improvement isn’t your forte, so why not use the opportunity to practice a little breathing and grounding through your feet as you walk around the store?
You can also make a mental list of the things you’re grateful for in the moment, maybe related to opening your yoga studio. It’ll make the experience easier, and you’ll be in the right mindset to truly enjoy the process in itself.
Next, you’ll have to get props, mats, bolsters, straps, and everything you need for teaching. You might need a sound system, essential oils, palo santo, sage or incense, too. Those items might be more easily found online and might require a little research beforehand.
Create your packages and how students will pay.
You want to set up your prices so you can keep your studio going for a long time while making it accessible to everyone; after all, this is yoga. The most typical packages are drop-in pass, 3-class pass, 10-class pass, or a monthly membership. Some studios also offer students the opportunity to pay for a year at once with an attractive discount.
At that moment, you can also think about whether you want to offer donation-based classes, a monthly or quarterly free class for the community, workshops every now and then, weekend trainings or teacher trainings. Those decisions can be made later on, but make sure you know your numbers so your yoga business can be sustainable over time.
Finally, what platform will you use if students want to pay online? Here are a few examples: Mind Body Online, Momo Yoga, Karma Soft.
Set up your studio.
Now is time to play your favorite music and get painting, decorating, build your furniture, move things around, and get really excited. You can even have a ritual before you begin, like light a candle and meditate in your empty space. Make it a special moment and take some time to visualize your idea coming to life.
Engage with people on social media and get the message around.
Choose which channels you’ll prefer to use, and if you can’t have one person taking care of your PR and marketing, stick to only two, to begin with. Choosing more will have you overwhelmed, even if you have another person to help you. Facebook and Instagram are the most well-known platforms and they work well to bring new people in. If you plan on having a blog, don’t forget about Pinterest or Twitter to share your links.
Yoga Pro Tip: as soon as you find a space, send people whose emails you’ve been collecting an update and keep sharing from there. Share pictures of the process on social media, too. It’ll make them excited to know about your opening and will be more likely to come visit!
Set an opening date and open.
By now, you should be ready to open your yoga studio. Set an opening date and decide on what the day will look like. Make sure you’ll have time to get the message out into your neighborhood and community.
Keep building and engaging with your community.
One of the reasons you wanted to open a yoga studio was to create a community of like-minded yogis to practice together and build new relationships. Take extra minutes at the end of classes to talk to students, and invite them regularly to follow your social media platforms.
Besides posting about classes and the studio, why not offer a live yoga class every now and then? Or maybe a quick live meditation on Instagram on a Monday morning? Your students will feel supported even outside their usual weekly classes.
Offer special events.
This will not only build community but also bring in new students to your studio. They might be only interested in the event you offer, but if they feel at ease in your space, they’ll be likely to come back. Here, the possibilities are endless: you can pair yoga with live music, an Ayurvedic cooking class, a sound bath, an arts and crafts class, or even a nature or urban hike.
Invite new teachers.
Students love the opportunity to take classes with new teachers. Whether you know of someone who gives specific classes (such as yoga with resistance bands, or offering insights on philosophy) or of other teachers in your area, invite them for a special class. This way, you’re supporting the yoga community as a whole — both students and teachers.