In this episode, I’ll answer a listener’s question for a brand new segment called Ask the Yogipreneur.
Tips and tricks just aren’t enough to get where you want to go. I’ll be sharing insights and inspired action steps so you can turn your passion for yoga into a profitable, sustainable business. Let’s dive right in to the first ever Ask the Yogipreneur episode. Here’s today’s question from Jess…
Hi, Racheal. This is Jess. I just completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training and I know that I want to make teaching yoga my career, but I just can’t afford to quit my day job yet. What’s the first step I should take?
Hey, Jess. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to answer this really important question.
I hear frequently from new yoga teachers who are wondering what the steps are they should take between completing teacher training and throwing themselves full time into their yoga business. We’re going to start to fill in the gaps and help you to prioritize, plan and get into action so that you can transition really seamlessly into your desired career path.
There’s two parts to the answer that I’ll share with you today.
The first part is acknowledging the fact that you’ve just completed a 200- hour yoga teacher training.
Congratulations and kudos! I know how much work and commitment that was to really dedicate yourself to learning the art of teaching yoga.
But – caveat here – I want to let you know that you have just touched the very tip of the iceberg. This is the beginning of your journey into understanding what it means to be a yoga teacher. There’s a lot that you’ll have to do to continue building up this skillset and determine who you are as a yoga teacher. If you don’t really understand this, then you’ll find yourself struggling to stand out in a sea of cookie-cutter yoga teachers.
We want to treat this 200 hours as a great introduction to the art of teaching yoga and know from the get-go that now comes the hard part. Now comes getting your experience, finding your voice and determining who you are, what is unique about you as a yoga teacher.
That’s easier said than done. I wish there was just some test I could give you that says, “Here’s your unique offering as a yoga teacher. Here’s what makes you stand out from all the tens of thousands of other yoga teachers out there.”
But the truth is, the only way you can discover this is by getting out there and teaching as much as you can.
You’ll want to start just by getting as much teaching experience as possible. This could look like teaching group classes. It could be teaching your friends. It could also be finding a mentor who can work closely with you to really build your teaching skill set and hone your craft.
You’ll also want to start exploring what it is that you uniquely have to say as a yoga teacher. What is your unique point of view? What do you uniquely bring to this practice? What do you want to be known for?
You’ll often hear this described as finding your yoga teacher voice. But, it’s really the heart of your yoga teacher brand.
If you want to establish yourself as a yoga brand and a yoga business, you have to have a unique point of view.
This is something that you grow into over time. The more experience you have, the more insights you’ll have and the more clarity you’ll have into how you stand out.
What I recommend as you’re getting started and trying to determine what your voice is, what is your unique point of view, is I would look at what I call your “sweet spot.”
What is your sweet spot?
The first is what are you incredibly passionate about?
Yes, yoga is something you’re incredibly passionate about, but what part of you the most passionate about? What are you incredibly excited to teach? What do you love learning about yoga? What aspect of it is absolutely fascinating to you?
The next part of your sweet spot is your purpose. What are you uniquely able to offer? Are you incredibly warm and nurturing? Are you able to break down something that seems really complicated so that anyone could understand it? This is all about uncovering your unique strengths and skill sets that are innately easy to you. It’s the part of you that you can do really effortlessly and that, often, you might actually take for granted. You’re going to want to tap into that. That’s where a lot of your genius will lie.
The final part is understanding your people. When you understand your peeps, you’ll understand the people that you are meant to serve, the community that you’re supposed to be building. The truth is, you don’t have to appeal to everyone. You just have to find your tribe; the peeps who deeply understand you, who love everything that you have to say, who can’t wait to continue learning from you.
Once you understand your sweet spot, your passion, the part of it that you’re the most excited about learning and sharing, your purpose, the things that come easiest to you – these are your strengths – and the people that you’re meant to serve, you’ll have the beginning of a strong, unique perspective of who you are as a yoga teacher.
Discovering who you are as a yoga teacher is a lifelong journey.
This is a path we are all on. It has no beginning and no end. We will always be on it and learning more about ourselves and what we have to offer the world. But, you’ll want to get started and really begin building up those muscles – learning more about yourself – and getting in front of more and more people so that you can get the insights and feedback directly from them. This is how you’ll begin to see how you can stand out and be unique in your yoga community.
Know that finding who you are as a yoga teacher and discovering your unique voice, your unique point of view, is a lifelong journey. There is no end. You will always be learning and growing and getting more clarity. But, that doesn’t meant that you can’t get that clarity and start this process while you’re building your yoga business on the side.
This is the second part of my answer:
I see a lot of yoga teacher who make that leap into entrepreneurship without a net and then they find themselves really frustrated when just a few short months into their yoga teaching career they can’t make the income they need to sustain themselves.
We don’t want to do that. We want to set you up for success.
For many yoga teachers, I recommend building your yoga business on the side while you’re still working full time. Will it be a little bit of a hustle? Yes. But, if you set a deadline and you start creating your own opportunities, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll be able to make that transition.
In fact, not long ago I did an interview with my dear friend and client, Anna Guest-Jelley at CurvyYoga.com where she talked about the process she went through to leave her full time job at a university and make Curvy Yoga her full time business.
The first step is to create your own opportunities.
What do I mean by create your own opportunities? While you’re building your yoga business on the side, yes, you can be getting experience by teaching at yoga studios or gyms or offering some privates. But, the challenge with teaching at studios and gyms is if you were to simply crunch the numbers of how many group yoga classes you would have to teach in order to make a livable income, you might want to cry when you realize it could be 15, 16, 18-plus classes a week.
It might seem like that’s only working 18 or 20 hours a week, but when you start to add in everything that goes into preparing for and traveling to and all of the steps around just one class, you’ll suddenly realize it’s closer to 50 or 60 hours a week in order to teach those 18 group yoga classes.
That is exhausting. It is a fast track to burnout.
Instead of teaching a bunch of group yoga classes for studios and gyms, you’ll want to begin creating your own opportunities. What kind of opportunities am I talking about?
You could explore teaching private yoga.
One of the reasons I love private yoga or semiprivate yoga is, generally speaking, for an hourly rate it pays much better than teaching group classes. You could potentially make twice as much in half the time when you’re offering private yoga.
You could also explore creating your own group yoga classes.
This is something a lot of my yogipreneurs explore when they realize, especially, that their community is missing out on some different types of group yoga classes. You could host these group yoga classes in your home, at a community center, in the park, at a church, at a venue like a museum. There are so many opportunities to create your own group yoga classes.
The difference is, instead of only earning maybe $25 to 50 a class, suddenly, as that class grows, you have the potential to grow your income quite dramatically and you don’t have the overhead – the expenses – of opening a brick and mortar yoga studio. That can be a great opportunity for you to pursue.
Another opportunity could be looking at corporate yoga – actually bringing yoga to your people, exactly where they are at their workplace.
If you’re still in your full time job, you might even explore if there’s an opportunity to begin teaching at your existing workplace. I’ve had a lot of yogipreneurs who got their foot in the door for corporate yoga simply by asking their current employer.
Creating your own opportunities is what will allow you to make more money in less time. You won’t be teaching or planning or driving for 50 or 60 hours a week. Instead, you’ll have a manageable schedule where you’re making a livable income.
The other part about creating your own opportunities is that you’re going to be able to build this up and really reap the rewards. As this builds over time and gains more and more momentum, your income will grow right along with it. That’s a huge plus for building your business on the side and doing it in a way that allows you to gain that momentum and really see the fruits of your labor.
As you start looking at what it would take to create your own opportunities, you also need to get clarity on what your income needs to be.
How much are you looking to replace of your current income? You need to get clarity on how much your lifestyle really costs. Are there any areas where you can cut some expenses that are not required right now? Maybe you can get rid of your cable package or have a less expensive cell phone bundle. Are there any areas where you can start saving money right now?
This is one thing that I recommend to anybody who’s looking to make the leap into full time entrepreneurship. In fact, with my background in finance for entrepreneurs and small business owners, I recommend that most entrepreneurs need to have as much as six months of living expenses set aside. This is your safety net. This is what you’ll be leaning on if there’s a slow month or the season just prevents a lot of people from attending yoga.
Make no doubt about it, yoga is a seasonal business. It’s affected by the holidays and the summers. You’ll want to have this cushion in place to insure that you never find yourself in an unnecessary financially stressful situation.
As you start building your yoga business on the side – while you’re still working your full time job – you’re going to have more income overall, but the more you can save it, the more you can reinvest some of that back into your yoga business – doing a few things now, like setting up your website or getting a little bit of business training – will help ensure that when you do make that leap, your business is ready to catch you.
Make sure that you consider how much of your income you want to replace before you make that leap into entrepreneurship. Chances are, unless you are superwoman, you won’t be able to replace 100% of your current full time income with a part time yoga business.
You may get pretty close, though. You may find that your yoga business has replaced 30 to 50% and it’s got good momentum and you can see it trending upwards and you’re getting more people joining you, the word is getting out there. That’s when it’s a good time for you to consider making that leap when you’ve replaced a good portion of your income.
Now, you may not have replaced – again – 100%, but that’s where that safety net comes into play. Suddenly you’re able to use a little bit of that and the time you’ve just freed up to reinvest back into your yoga business will help you to get off to a very fast start.
I hope that answers some of your questions about how you should get started.
Again, just to recap::
First you want to establish who you are and what you uniquely have to offer as a yoga teacher.
Spend some time getting experience. Find your voice. Determine what it is that you uniquely have to offer. It’s all about that sweet spot and understanding your passion, your purpose and the people you’re meant to serve.
Next, begin creating your own opportunities while you build your yoga business on the side.
Be smart about it. Make sure that you are saving and aiming to replace a good portion of your income before you make that leap.
You want your business to not become a burden and a big part of that is just a little bit of planning. It’s not hard, it just take a little bit of planning and maybe somebody to hold you accountable each step of the way.
Take some time to plan for your success, Jess and I have no doubt that you’ll create the yoga career of your dreams.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Ask The Yogipreneur on Yogipreneur Radio!
Episode 3 Show Notes::
What To Do Next?