If you have been engaged in yoga practice for several years, you may now be feeling that you want to turn that hobby into a business and start teaching yoga to others. Sadly, it isn’t as simple as just turning up with your yoga mat and a group of friends and family and getting straight into your downward dog.
As with setting up any business, there is a lot of paperwork and regulations involved to ensure that everything is being done safely and legally, as well as needing to put finances in place and building your business to make everyone aware of what you are offering.
Nevertheless, however daunting it may seem, your passion for the subject and desire to succeed means you are already plenty of the way there.
Acquire yoga certification
Before you even consider taking your business idea any further, you will need to secure yoga teacher training certification. This shows that you are fully trained and able to teach others in the ways of yogic practice.
You will need to undertake a minimum of 200 hours of training, by a Yoga Alliance approved school, including any of our own courses and classes. These can be anything from residential retreats to online classes, depending on what suits your aims and current lifestyle.
You may also decide to undertake some health and safety courses, such as first aid, to add to your professional development and increase the skills you may require for your own teaching business.
Create a business plan
Nobody is likely to take you seriously – be it banks or clients – if you don’t have a robust business plan. It will also help you to decide what is important to you in your business, what your aims and objectives are, and how you intend to achieve them. Outlining your thoughts in this way will allow you to approach your yoga teaching with a clear head and a focused mindset.
A business plan helps you to make decisions. Putting everything down in black and white, doing your research, establishing what paperwork you need, how you will fund the business, and deciding what you want are all vital in making a success of what you do and making sure you are on the right track.
It will provide you with the confidence you need to go ahead with your plans and give you a vision for your future. Of course, nothing is entirely set in stone, but at least having some kind of framework will enable you to start on the road to teaching with a clear route ahead.
If you don’t think you can afford to set up in business, then it is worth looking at what types of loans might be available to you as a start-up. Setting a realistic budget and pricing strategy for the services you plan to offer will help you to see what is doable and what may be something you will need to incorporate further into your business journey.
Arranging a business bank account is vital, to allow you to keep track of all your income and expenditure for the business in one place. This will also make it easier for accounting and tax purposes too.
Think about how your clients are going to pay you. Are you intending to offer memberships through a direct debit scheme? Or perhaps you will want to take card payments at each class, using a dedicated payment device – after all, very few people carry cash nowadays, so you need to be prepared for all eventualities. You don’t want to alienate potential clients by not giving thought to their requirements.
Decide on your niche and USP
On that note, you also need to decide what services you plan to offer. Rather than going for a broad yoga base, it is often handy to specialize in just a few types of yoga, especially when you are just starting out. Test the water, find out if there is a gap in the market where you plan to be located, or if any local yoga classes are particularly oversubscribed. You can always branch out further when you become more established.
If you have a particular form of yoga that you personally enjoy practicing, then it makes sense to start with that, as your enthusiasm for it will likely shine through and encourage your students. If you are able to combine your yoga teaching with any other holistic services, such as massages or other forms of meditation, then it is worth considering adding these to your repertoire, to provide a one-stop-shop to interested clients.
Build a client base
It is likely that in your own time practicing yoga you will have met a lot of like-minded souls, who may be willing to take a chance on you and your business as you start out. You need these people. Without actively poaching them from the classes you have attended yourself, making your offering attractive to your fellow students will likely encourage them to join you, to see how you shape up.
Client retention is just as important, so it is no good relying on these friends and just hoping they will stay on the journey with you. Persuade them to tell their own friends and family, offer a refer a friend discount, or reduced membership fees for anyone who signs up for long-term classes. Anything you can do to build a client base at this stage is essential.
Your marketing needs to be up to scratch too. Most people now look online when they are searching for anything, so having a website and an active social media presence will push you to the front of the queue. Combine text and photographs with useful information and frequently asked questions to make your marketing visually appealing and help you to stand out from the crowd.
Once you have all this in place, you need somewhere to do your teaching from. This may start online, while you see if it is really what you want to do, and then progress to a physical location that lends itself to what you are hoping to achieve from your classes and your business.
You may need to purchase equipment for beginners and have a safe space where everyone feels welcome and relaxed. However you plan to approach your teaching, it should be mentally and physically fulfilling for everyone, yourself included.
Written by Sophie Bishop