All businesses have to start from somewhere. Whether it’s buying into a preexisting business & creating your own vibe and clientele list or establishing your very own startup. In this article, I am specifically targeting children’s yoga teachers who are keen to begin their own startup journey, either as a side hustle or as a main income.
1.It may take a year or two (or even longer!) of hard work to establish yourself. Accept that you may not have the budding business you expected within 6 months. Use a generous timeline to set goals, so that realistic expectations are achievable.
2.Be open to evolving and growing with your business.
3.Things will change! It is ok to change your mind and move in other directions. Be open to signs that come your way and listen to what your heart is telling you. Find contentment in starting your journey at point A and ending at point B. I’d worked in early childhood for 30 years and I was also teaching Early Childhood Education at a TAFE. When I began my yoga business I felt like I needed a change of age to work with. My initial target market was yoga in schools. I was hired and I enjoyed it but I kept receiving calls from Early Childhood services. I would tell these services I was already booked but they would persist. The universe was trying to tell me something! I started to find myself really enjoying Early Childhood yoga and re-found the joy in engaging with this cohort. Early Childhood is also where my knowledge and experience lies. I listened to the signs from around me and within me. I now have found my yoga purpose in working with young children, by allowing myself to be open to change.
4.There may be times when you doubt yourself. Give yourself a reality check by asking questions that resonate with your why. Why am I doing this? What is my intention? What are my long term aspirations? When I am facilitating yoga with children does it spark joy? Could I be doing more to market my business? Sometimes, honest reflection will help you to refocus. As yoga teachers, you may also find meditating on your doubt a positive way to work through your feelings.
Reality is, there is going to be a bit of ground work before you can venture out to spread the magic of yoga to all the children within your reach.
If you have the opportunity to hire a business coach, they will certainly guide and support you. Otherwise, listed below are some aspects which are worthy of consideration before you hit the yoga mat:
1. Develop a business plan, this will give you a deeper insight into your business.
2. Who is your target market? This can change over time as you grow into your business, so don’t feel like you are locked into this. Listen to your intuition. What is it telling you? Where does your experience lie? Where do you find the most joy and reward; early childhood services, kindergartens, schools, before and after school care, hospitals, disability care, foster families, women, children, refugees, indigenous communities, asylum seekers, migrant families, trauma sensitive environments? There are many different situations where children inhabit. What is your speciality?
3. Getting your name out in the public domain requires persistence and commitment. Are you known in the sector or industry you have decided to work with? If yes, then word of mouth is one of the biggest marketing tools you can have (make sure you post on your social media platforms and website all of the fantastic things you are doing). If no, then cold calling, emails and flyers in the post, may or may not work. In my experience, they don’t work very well at all! In this case, network with as many people as you can, attend conferences, blog, join social media profiles where your ideal client hangs out (but no spamming!). Establish relationships and build on the know, like and trust factor. Another possible way of establishing yourself is to work in a yoga studio, teaching children’s yoga. This will help to grow your trust factor, credibility and professionalise your image.
4. There is so much to cover in marketing but keeping it simple to begin with is not only better for the budget but allows you the flexibility to evolve ideas without wasting your money. Remember, as a new business you are likely to change, evolve and introduce new concepts. I personally found Vistaprint cost effective and reliable for my print needs. As your business grows, you can add to your marketing profile.
a) Consider a postcard and/or business card, as both have benefits. A postcard allows you to put more information on the card and is less likely to be shoved in a bag or lost by your recipient. A business card is smaller and is easier to carry around.
b) A “let’s connect’ DL size flyer is a great way to get all of your contact information and online platforms listed in one place. This flyer is a good size to put in letterboxes, show bags, on fridges, drop into offices, notice boards and community boards.
c) Creating a logo is a must. People need to be able to connect with your logo and you will need it for all of your branding.
d) If possible, establish daily social media posts. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram reward regular posts and engagement by activating your algorithm so that you can be seen on users’ feeds. Using Stories on Facebook and Instagram is also highly recommended to encourage visibility. This is a great form of free marketing so take advantage of these platforms and use the Rule of Thirds to ensure your content comes across as authentic. Give more than you take!
e) A website will be the biggest expense unless you are savvy enough to develop your own. Schools and Early Childhood services are more likely to search for yoga programs during office hours over the internet. Whereas your social media platforms are usually discovered through individual searches or recommendations. A website may also professionalise your image.
f) Branded clothing can also help to professionalise your service but if your budget is tight, then this can wait. Your vibe, your personality, your professionalism and your product will speak for itself, not the branded t shirt you are wearing.
5. So what are you worth? This is one of the hardest aspects of your business to determine. People in business are generally very coy about this. We don’t like to share this which makes it all the more challenging in setting your price. You could possibly do an internet search for other similar businesses fees or try school incursion companies for ideas. Initially, I had different fee structures for the variety of classes I taught but streamlined that and now charge a set fee per hour. What is your experience? How many years have you taught children’s yoga? How many years of Early Childhood or teaching experience do you have? Have you spoken at conferences, written yoga articles and so on? Does your fee cover travel costs? Research, reflect and map out your out of pocket expenses as this will help you to reach your final amount you will charge. Just don’t sell yourself short. Services will pay and a lot of it is funded by the Government!
There may be ups and downs during your startup phase. If you go into your business knowing this may occur, you can feel more equipped to deal with accompanying emotions as they arise. Accepting the ebb and flow of your business is part of this period but working through it can be empowering, giving you the strength to move forward. In a nutshell, a positive, realistic and determined mindset is really important.
Working with children is extremely satisfying and can also reward you with sufficient remuneration for your skill, knowledge, certification, education and dedication.
So keep up the great work and don’t give up. You’ve got this!
As published in YogaToday, The Business edition ’19, volume 26.