Updated: Mar 7, 2020
When I was little, I never thought I would have my own yoga studio. I only discovered yoga after I attended a yoga class with a friend, my love for yoga grew from there. They say you should try and do something you love, and well yoga was that for me.
After attending a few classes I came to the realisation that this is what I wanted to do, I wanted to open my own yoga studio.
Next came months of planning and stress but in the end, I got there, learning some lessons along the way. So, if you're sat there thinking "I want my own yoga studio" this blog is for you.
I've got in touch with 10 people who have been there and done it. Successfully.
My hope is that together we will be able to set your expectations and you will be able to start your journey with the knowledge we wish we had.
So, with that being said, let’s start with the hardest thing about starting a yoga studio.
The Business Plan
So, starting a business doesn't start without a plan. Or at least some form of an idea of what you need to do.
We asked our yoga studio owners if they did, in fact, have a business plan before they launched.
7/10 did have a plan before they launched, with only 1 winging it.
My advice would be to lay out a basic business plan. It doesn't have to go too in-depth but you want the basic covered.
What's the Hardest Thing About Starting A Yoga Studio?
You may have an idea of how your yoga studio will look and be very excited to make it into a reality. However, one of the most difficult decisions you will have is where to actually have it.
This is one area where a lot of self-doubt and undecidedness may take over. Especially if you're looking at a few options.
We ask our 10 experts what they found the hardest thing was, and guess what they said.
Mind you it was only just, with 2nd place actually getting customers. In third place was deciding on what classes to do.
So, to help you with each of those tasks we asked our founders for their best bit of advice.
Experts Advice On Finding The Right Location
Do your research for how many other yoga studios are in your area. Don't start a new studio too close to others- maintain a respectful distance. Try to find a quiet space where there's not too much traffic, surrounded by nature if possible. Try and be close to public transport and/or ample parking.
Alyson McWilliams, Owner of Serenity Yoga Studio
Make sure you are seen from a major road, if you are back in an office building nobody will find you. Also, if available make sure people can easily get to your business either walking or bike.
Casey Castro, Founder Of Sydney Yoga Collective
Take your time. Find somewhere that already has the bones for a studio so you don’t have to invest too much at the beginning on fit out
Benedita Sousa, Owner and founder of In Balance Hot Yoga.
Establish the top priority, for us it was free parking and to be in the city centre. We compromised on other things but got the free parking we wanted.
Cindy Thomas, Co-founder of The Zen Shed
Consult your local council first to see where they will allow planning. Get a good handle on costs of a location - rent, maintenance, insurance, service charges, rates, refuse collection etc. Also, there should be affordable parking close by.
You may have noticed some key themes come out of their advice above. So, if you're looking at a few possible locations just make sure it has.
Parking, the more the better. Free, perfect! Easy access, and not a million miles away from people Basic bones of a yoga studio Room for development, and council approval
Experts Advice on Getting Customers
The second hardest task you will find yourself faced with is actually getting people through the door.
So, we asked our founders the best way they have found to do this.
Word of mouth is the most effective way of getting people into your yoga studio. So how do you encourage this?
Word of mouth advertising stems from a few things but the best things you can do is deliver an outstanding customer experience. It's an old and cheesy saying but, going that extra mile.
The easiest way is to just ask. If people enjoy your classes at the end ask them for a little favour and spread the word. If you want to encourage that even further you could set up bring a friend discounts, or even a referral program.
Another way you can start word of mouth, as Karrena points out is being a part of local community FB groups and offering a free introductory class to new students.
Of course, there are other paid methods you can use, and some fundamentals you will want to set up. Below are the main things that have helped me grow my yoga studio.
Website - Optimised for your local area
Google My Business Profile - essential for local search
Google Ads - Radius targeted around studio address
Facebook Ads - Radius targeted around studio address
Social Media Profiles - Great for engagement and customer service.
Experts Advice on Choosing Your Classes
The third hardest on the list was deciding on what type of classes to offer. There are so many different types of yoga classes, you need to make sure you have the right balance of fast and slow. You also need to be careful of having so many it confuses and puts people off choosing one to attend.
If you have a few classes I would recommend writing a blog or guide on what each class is and who should attend. If you can add in videos of what poses will be included in each even better.
So, let’s go back to our founders for their advice...
Questions to answer:
Are you going to be teaching the majority of classes yourself or will you contract? What's your yoga area of expertise? (i.e. which style do you teach) Who are your target customers? (e.g. mothers with young children, young professionals, middle aged people, a mix etc) Are your target customers in your chosen area?
This is a tricky one, I think you need to understand your community. If you are in a community that is older then offer gentle classes. If the community is more of a type A you want to offer strong yoga classes to serve the type "A" personality.
Desirae Pierce, Founder of Breath and Body Yoga
Look at the competition, offer classes when the students can come and after school drop off.
Based on the schedule and what you/team can teach. Students have all the best intentions to attend classes but actually attending it is a completely different matter. We used to have 7am classes, many students wanting early morning classes but not actually attending the classes. I was struggling to be up early to be at the studio also teaching classes until 9pm the night before. I prioritise my health cancelled the classes and focused my attention on classes with higher demand, evening classes.
Look at what teachers you have. Always more energetic classes before slower more restorative classes. Keep things simple - use standard names for classes - people get easily confused.
So, if you have your location sorted, it's best to understand your local audience and the type of people who will be coming. Are the old, yoga? Do they want hot yoga? Seeing what the competition offers is always a good way to see what’s working as well.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from opening a yoga studio?
The need to connect with your students and genuinely care about their well-being while maintaining your own healthy boundaries. Also: The importance of constantly adding new students to the yoga community; people move, get injured (from sports other than yoga!), get jobs that make it difficult to come to classes etc. You need to keep adding new students to your studio or you'll go out of business
You are not going to please everyone
Trust, it takes time. Your teachers are the pillars to a growing business.
Terri Bender Morrison
Your personal practice becomes more important. Don't neglect your practice.
Create a clear structure and clear operating procedures, always be professional.
Marketing is constant
Going larger doesn't mean making more money, it means having more expenses. The build-up takes a lot more time than we anticipate and this is a marathon that you keep improving on rather than a sprint.
What's One Piece of Advice You Would Give to Those Thinking of Starting A Yoga Studio?
Finally, we asked our founders what one piece of advice they would give to those thinking of starting their own studio.
Here are their answers:
Do the numbers, know your target student, start it slowly as a side Hussle if possible (i.e. don't give up your day job) and gradually build it up so it can grow organically and cyclically and maintain the 'spirit' of yoga. I've met many burnt-out yoga studio owners and teachers who've lost their 'yoga spirit' due to financial pressures and demands
Ask yourself why you are doing it? If it is one of "oh it will be cool" you might want to just teach. Owner your studio is hard work, doable but you need to stay connected to your why and that will carry you on your many years.
Don't plan on pulling a pay check for 5 years.
Terri Bender Morrison, Founder of Mindful Motion Yoga
The single student in front of you is more important than the millions who are elsewhere.
Joanna Thyssen, Founder of Yoga Loft
Be prepared to put in the hours - namaste!
Be established in the community.
Fotini Bitrou, Founder Of Pure Fitness
Study and build your brand
Take some time to clear your intentions, your futuristic vision (think Long Term), your why and on a more practical level what are the systems and processes you want to have in place to convert every student that comes through the door into a long term/loyal student. There is plenty of help in YouTube, FB groups just keep learning and picking up on best practices from other studios.
If you decide to start your own studio, I hope you find the thoughts and examples here useful and wish you every success!