Transcript: How I’d Grow my Business If I Were a Yoga Teacher Starting From Scratch

I get asked all the time: Susanne, where do I start? How do I build my business?

It’s definitely easier if you follow a plan, a roadmap that someone else walked before you. And this is what I’m going to share with you in this week’s episode of the podcast.

But. And I’m a big believer in having a plan and a to-do list.

But you have to be ready to let go of the plan. To breach out. To try things out. To experiment.

This is what being a successful entrepreneur is. It’s not copying someone else’s business model and then waiting for the dollars to roll in. This will only get you so far, and the biggest problem is that the soul will be missing in your business.

I actually believe that struggling in the beginning, failing and working really hard and slowly seeing growth, will make you a better businessperson. And in the end will make your business more successful.

I went to a workshop with Kino McGregor the Ashtanga yoga teacher a few weeks ago and she shared that in her experience people who started ashtanga and it was really easy for them to do all the poses, maybe because they had a gymnastics background or it was just how their body worked, they tended to not stick with the practice. They stopped after one or two years. While someone who had to work really hard for every single pose sticks with the practice for years.

The difference is, they got the spiritual benefits out of doing the practice. The facing of your pains, overcoming all those doubts and fears. When you just do the asana and they are easy you miss all that.

That’s where real growth lies.

I truly believe this applies to business, too.

Embrace being uncomfortable.

Embrace it being hard.

And slow going.

I didn’t have a launch yet of an online course where I haven’t hoped for more students to buy my product.

And it’s crazy uncomfortable, I hate that part of launching something new, waiting for people to buy.

But still, I stick with it and I do it again, and again, and my numbers are growing.

So, having said all that, let’s look at what I would do if I would start today as a yoga teacher, wanting to earn money with my teachings.

Which feels a bit weird, because it’s really not the road I’ve been going. I taught yoga, a little bit, as a traveling yoga teacher. But I pretty quickly transitioned my focus onto marketing for yoga teachers. Which probably isn’t what you plan to do.

So it’s not exactly my journey, my roadmap that I’m sharing, but I’ve talked to so many yoga teachers and helped them with their marketing, that I feel I can merge those two roads.

Step #1 Get clear on your mission

When we are just getting started, we typically say yes to everything.

We start taking on things we might actually resent, we do things that are really not going to help our business grow, and we say “yes” to helping other people when we would really rather say “no.” We just make these decisions because are desperate. We don’t know what’s going to work and we need to make money right.

This is actually great, because you can learn so much from doing this. You’ll learn what you enjoy. What you hate doing. What really lights you up.

Instead of making some bad decisions about your business model early on, I say don’t make those big decisions about your business model just yet. Allow yourself some flexibility, some breathing space, and some room for experimentation.

And then, maybe six months in, you hopefully know much more about what you want to do.

Now it’s time to work on your mission.

When you are clear on your mission and let this inspire everything you do, you give people a reason to care. You are able to inspire passion. And that’s how you create loyal followers and students.

Here are three reasons why you need a mission for your business:

#1 Your mission provides direction

If one day you target yoga beginners and the next day you offer advanced hand-stand workshops, you’re missing direction. Your mission will serve as a “north star” that will keep you clear on the direction of your business.

#2 Your mission will help you focus on the future of your business

Where will your business be in 1 year? 3 years? Your mission will help you stay focused on your vision. What you’re doing today will then get you where you want to go in the future.

#3 Your mission will help you make decisions on a daily basis

Your mission can act as a framework for every decision you make in your business. For example, if you plan an upcoming event you can check if it aligns with your mission. Now you’re not just promoting your services and offers, you are promoting your mission. You’re giving people a reason to care. And this will help you create deeper relationships with your students and followers.

So, getting clear on your mission is step #1.

Step #2 Build your brand and website

This is a big step, but you can start small. You definitely don’t have to go all in and hire a branding expert and website designer.

Actually, I would advise against it, because you’re still in the beginning stages of building your business, and you probably don’t have a lot of clarity yet on who’s your ideal customer and what you stand for.

Clarity comes with action.

So after you’ve been in business for a few years, you probably know a lot more about who you want to work with, who you are and what your brand stands for.

When you’re just starting out, you can build yourself a simple website, for example with the help of my course Blissful Websites, or you can look at tools like Squarespace or Wix.

It’s probably not going to look as polished as a professionally designed website, but for the start that really doesn’t matter.

A beautiful website alone won’t help you grow your business. The content and messaging on it is what’s really important. This is what you need to work on.

And when you have that, you will connect to your ideal customers, no matter what your website looks like.

Now, your website should still look nice and work, meaning it should be easy to understand what you do, direct your visitors to your offerings and help you build your email list just to start, and I teach you how to do that in my course Blissful Websites, so this would be my recommendation.

Also, don’t invest crazy money in a logo.

I don’t know why so many yoga teachers think the first thing they need is a logo.

I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a logo of course, I have a logo, and you need something to put on the top of your website.

But it can be something simple.

I created my logo myself in Canva.com and this is what I recommend, create a simply font-based logo in Canva.

If you don’t know Canva, it’s a free online tool that allows you design things like logos, flyers, images, everything.

It’s awesome and I use it every single day. I actually have a video where I show you how to design your logo in Canva in one of the units in my free Facebook group Marketing for Yoga Teachers, I’ll add the link to the group to the shownotes.

Check it out if you want to learn how to design your logo yourself.

If you want to hire a designer to create your logo, be aware that a good designer is going to be expensive!

If you’re on a budget, like most of us just starting out, there’s a high chance that you will get what you pay for, meaning something that you are not 100% happy with.

Instead I recommend investing into a photo shoot with a professional photographer, specialized in yoga and / or personal branding.

This will make a huge difference to your website and your brand. You can use those photos on your website and your social media and you will appear more professional right away.

Great photos make such a big difference. I also see this with website clients. Sometimes they spent tons of money on a logo and then they hire me to design their website, but don’t have any professional photos and this makes it really difficult.

So hire a photographer.

Next, you want to focus on your offerings, on what you’re actually putting out there in the world to help people, and here I recommend developing a signature workshop.

This is Step #3 Create a signature workshop

A workshop feels different than a normal yoga class. It normally lasts longer and is also a bit more expensive for your students, and of course they also expect more. It’s an event!

The great thing is you don’t have to develop something new all the time. You create one workshop, and then you work with this and improve it and make it better. But you don’t need to create a new yoga sequence for it every single time you give it for example, or a new playlist.

For your signature workshop you want to find a topic that you are passionate about. That lights you up. That you can’t stop talking about.

It could be for example how to create a yoga home practice, arm balances for beginners, aromatherapy, pranayama, meditation

Anything that offers something of value to your students.

Remember, it’s all about your students, too.

Yes, you want to find something that lights you up, but when your students are mainly middle-aged yoga beginners, a workshop for advanced arm balances is probably not what they are interested in.

So you can either look for new student, or, and this is the better and easier option, find a topic that works for you and your students.

It should be a topic that you want to grow with. That can become your thing, what you are known for.

I mean, you can still teach all kind of styles of yoga classes, for example yin and vinyasa and meditation, but over time you want to become the expert in one thing. You want to be known for something.

One yoga teacher I work with is specializing in yoga for highly sensitive people, and this really developed over time. She didn’t start out with that when she started her yoga career.

Another is offering yoga for tango dancers, and she found her niche by being really passionate about both, tango and yoga, and seeing a need, how yoga can actually help aspiring tango dancers with things like flexibility, balance and mindset. She’s actually creating her first online course on this.

But she didn’t start out with this as well, it evolved over time.

That’s why I want you to be open to change. Create an amazing signature workshop, learn from it, help your students, but if it doesn’t feel right anymore after a while, you can pivot and try something else.

This is the beauty of being in the starting phase of your business. You can still experiment. Try things out.

When you’re established and yoga-famous, it will be more difficult to do something different, because your students will have expectations.

For example Kino McGregor is known for Ashtanga. If she would say tomorrow, she’s stopping Ashtanga and will now teach, I don’t know, Kundalini yoga, people would be shocked! And it probably would hurt her business, right?

I mean, she probably could be a great Kundalini yoga teacher, but it would confuse people because she’s been known for doing Ashtanga for such a long time. It’s a big part of her brand.

When you’re just starting out you still have more freedom and flexibility, don’t be afraid to try different things and to experiment.

Start offering your workshop on a consistent basis, you can get in touch with yoga studios in different locations if you can hold it there, or you can rent a space.

This will help you earn money – as I said, a workshop normally has a higher price point than a normal yoga class, actually you definitely should ask for more money, and it’s a great way to broaden your reach and build your student numbers.

The point is to learn as much as possible about your students, what they struggle with, what they need help with, how you can help them, and what you really love doing.

This is the first step of pivoting into the online world.

You can also keep on offering workshops and travel the world doing that if you love it, but if you want to make a bigger impact and reach more people, and also make more money, or have the security to also make money when you grow older or get sick and can’t teach so much in person anymore, you need to look at building an online business.

And the beautiful thing is, that today’s the perfect time to do this. There’s all this amazing technology that makes it super easy to create online courses and share them with the world, and the online education market is getting bigger and bigger every year.

I’m biased here of course because online courses are such a big part of my business model, but I truly believe that it’s an amazing opportunity for yoga teachers or any health or wellness entrepreneurs.

And if you’re listening to this podcast, I’m guessing you already know this, right?

But before you can start creating and selling online courses, there’s

Step #4 Offer free content on a consistent basis and build your email list

To sell anything you need to have an audience first. And if you want to sell something online, you need to build trust with your audience before you can start selling them anything.

That’s why I recommend having a blog and creating free, valuable content that you share with your audience on a consistent basis.

It doesn’t have to be a written blog. It could also be a podcast, or YouTube videos.

The point is, you want to give your students the chance to get to know you and your teaching style, to connect with you and to see you as the expert.

If you’ve listened to one of my last podcast episodes with Dagmar from Montezuma Yoga, she shared that her YouTube videos really help her selling spaces on her yoga retreats, because people tried her videos and liked her style, and this makes them sign up without knowing her in person.

It works! But you have to put in the work as well. It’s not enough to post two blog posts and then stay silent for 6 months and then post again.

You need to be consistent.

Putting something out weekly is ideal, but probably not possible if you’re still having a day job or teaching tons of classes each week.

If that’s the case, commit to monthly.

Commit to sharing one piece of amazing and helpful content, for example a yoga video, per month.

This is doable, right?

You can also batch this. Rent a space, for example a yoga studio or a beautiful AirBnB apartment, and film 3 videos at the same time. Boom, you have content to share for the next three months! And you can use snippets and stills for social media as well.

If you publish 12 amazing blog posts over the year, in three years that’s 36 amazing blog posts that can bring you new customers every single day.

Commit to once per month, and then you’ll up this when you get serious about building your online business.

Creating and sharing free content will also help you understand better what you want to do, what you want to deliver, how you want to teach, and what your audience really needs and wants from you, that intersection is really important to figure out.

I said this before – there needs to be alignment between what you want to do and what your customer needs and wants from you. That’s what I call “the sweet spot.”

Here’s an example from my business.

In the beginning, I got a lot of engagement when I shared tips on how to do social media. I even created a free social media course and a lot of people signed up for this.

The problem was, it wasn’t aligned with my paid products. I didn’t have an online course on how to grow your Instagram for example, and, even more important, I wasn’t interesting in offering one.

I teach social media as part of my curriculum in the Blissful Biz Hive, my membership program, but I don’t have a single course on it and I don’t want to offer that.

So that free course wasn’t aligned with my products, and this meant that while it might be something that my customers want and need, it’s not the right fit.

And I’m not offering it anymore on my website. Once in a while someone finds the link on Pinterest and signs up for it, but I’m not promoting it anymore.

But I still have some blog posts and podcast episodes about social media and that’s fine, it’s just not where I focus on.

You need to find your one thing that you want to be known for and focus on creating content around this topic.

If you want to teach people how to meditate, don’t share only vegan recipes on your blog. Keep the focus on meditation. You get what I mean, right?

This will help you so much with the next step:

Step #5 Create your first online course

In many situations, including my own, a business model that offers a lot of flexibility, consistent revenue, and an abundance of opportunity to impact your audience is building online courses.

I’m so passionate about teaching you all how to create online courses because it really is an amazing business model. Again, there is a lot of flexibility, consistent revenue when you set it up right, and if you love to create content and you love to teach then this is definitely a business model I want you to look into.

I guess I’m partial here. This episode is a little biased. I totally get that. But I can say with all certainty that building a business model around creating online courses is an amazing experience. It’s one I at least want you to start to consider. Just think about what that might look like in your own business.

What I love most about my life is the freedom it provides. I basically can work from anywhere where there’s internet and I get to work on my terms!

I love this freedom and flexibility. I also love waking up and I sold a course overnight, and working with yoga teachers from all over the world, and seeing them having results from working with me.

And I want this for you, too!

When you’ve followed the steps I outlined you should have a pretty good idea of who are your students, what are they struggling with, and how you could help them.

Most of us that are creating online training courses are going to do so because our potential student has a problem or a challenge. Or, maybe it’s just a really deep desire. You want to get very clear about what that is.

Once you get clear about who your potential student is and what their challenge or problem or desire is, from there you want to decide what kind of results you are going to get for your students. What results do they genuinely need and want?

This is going to be the foundation for your online course.

If you need some inspiration of what’s possible, I recorded an episode in this podcast where I share 15 ideas for yoga related online courses.

It’s my most popular episode, so definitely listen to it if you’re looking for some inspiration on online courses.

Okay, let’s wrap it up.

I shared 5 steps with you that I would follow if I would start as a yoga teacher today:

Step #1 Get clear on your mission

Step #2 Build your brand and your website

Step #3 Create a signature workshop

Step #4 Offer free content on a consistent basis and build your email list

And step #5 Create your first online course

So, how long is this going to take you?

The answer is, it depends.

If you are in a 9-to-5 job right now and you’re teaching yoga at the side but it’s your dream to do it fulltime, it’s going to be tough to do it all at the same time. Like really super hard. It’s not impossible, but you need to know it’s going to be a tough time.

I would recommend, if it’s at all possible, to see if you can reduce your hours in your day job. See if you can work half time or take a sabbatical and work on your dream business.

This is what I did. When I started my online business, I still worked freelance in advertising agencies for around 6 months a year. Those months where I was doing both were incredible tiring, especially last year when my online business was already semi successful, because you can’t stop your own business completely, I still blogged every week and posted on social media and answered emails and all that, but then I had  6 months where I could go all in and focus on my business.

But this is what I recommend. Reducing your hours to have more time to work on your dream.

And then follow your won plan. Do everything in your own time. You probably can get from step #1 to step #5 in one to two years, but if it takes you longer, that’s fine!

I was already over forty when I started working for myself. And 46 when I started working on my online business.

It’s never too late. Repeat that after me – it’s never too late.

I say, enjoy the ride, embrace every challenge that life throws at you, and live your dream.

You got this!

There you have it. I hope there were a few light bulb moments in this episode to help you look at your business differently or approach it with a different perspective so you can make sure you‘re insanely happy to be in the business that you’ve created.

Thank you so very much for being here with me and make sure you take action on this. If it spoke to you don’t waste the time you just spent with me here. Instead, start moving toward taking action and share your next steps in our Facebook group Marketing for Yoga Teachers. I want to hear all about it.

I also want to tell you to be patient with yourself. Success, for most people, especially myself, does not happen overnight. If you just stick with it and believe in what you’re doing and really insanely take care of those you serve you will see the success you’re after. Good luck in all you do. I can’t wait to connect with you again next week. Take care.