Years ago I was presented with the opportunity to take ownership of a yoga studio. Though there was much to contemplate, I knew it was a full body, YES! By 2016, I had been teaching yoga for nearly a decade and I had taught in every kind of environment; gyms, rec centers, town halls, yoga studios, schools, private homes, outpatient therapy facilities, corporate offices, retreat centers and, training camps… the list goes on! At that point I thought I understood everything there was to know about running a yoga studio. Furthermore, I was risk-averse, relatively business savvy, had a background in Public Health and years of experience with sales and marketing. Many people affirmed my hope that I would be an exceptional and successful studio owner.
The reality was that it took everything I had to run that studio; including all of my money, focus, time and energy. The studio did very well; in our first year we doubled our revenue and then we experienced continuous growth for the following years to come. In year one, we expanded into a second studio location and by our third year we expanded again and we were owned/operated three separate studios. I was very proud of my studios and I felt that I had truly learned what it meant to be a small business owner. I still hesitate to admit that my success as a small business owner came with great personal sacrifice;
- I didn’t travel or see my family or friends for the first two years.
- After four years of hard work, I finally took a “real vacation.”
- I put every monetary resource that I had on the line; which included my personal credit, my ability to buy a house and make other investments.
- My health was my last priority; I will share more on this journey at another time!
- My stress levels escalated past the point of chronic and I experienced many adverse side effects from overwhelm and burnout.
- My relationship with myself and my intimate relationships suffered.
I always said that if I wasn’t in the yoga industry, I don’t think I could have held on for as long as I did. Thankfully, Thrive Yoga was my hOME away from hOMe and my wellness sanctuary (and still is today). Every time I stepped into the studio, or practiced in a room surrounded by my staff and friends I felt renewed enough to keep going.
In the early phase of operating multiple studio locations; I learned some really harsh lessons. Some examples of those lessons are:
- First and foremost, I learned that yoga studio ownership is not a side-gig or hobby. It is a very active, highly demanding endeavor. As a customer the studio may feel like a marvelous, peaceful, “gem” in the community, but behind that curtain is someone hustling to keep it alive and thriving!
- Did you know that all Thrive Yoga studios are open for almost 100 hours per week? This doesn’t include all the additional time that the owners typically spend working at home!
- It takes a village to keep a studio operating consistently; including your 20+ teaching staff, studio support staff, management team, as well as your vendor partners, accounting team (CPA and bookkeepers), legal team, business advisor, (if you’re fortunate enough to have one!) and hopefully the thousands of students that faithfully come through your doors.
- I should mention the obvious fact that you are the leader of this cosmically aligned and awesome village!
- AND the fact that in leading this village, you also become the head of Human Resources for a pretty large team. I laugh at myself now, because somehow, I didn’t expect that!
- I learned how important it is to have plentiful cash flow and access to capital. Since yoga studios are primarily service-based, it can be incredibly challenging to find funding, never-mind be approved for it without leveraging things like your home or other personal assets!
- I self-funded aka bootstrapped the studios in the early days. At that time I was very ‘proud’ of my ability to do this, but in retrospect it added an enormous and unnecessary amount of stress. There is an appropriate time for bootstrapping; and hopefully, eventually you grow into needing more resources and fiscal relationships (not to be confused with business partners).
- I learned how EXPENSIVE it is to run a studio. Before purchasing the studio, I found a basic studio budget online. It seemed reasonable and inspired confidence but it was not an accurate depiction of what it actually costs to run a yoga studio. I spent years working on our budgets and each studio’s budget now has over 50 line items! Those 50 line items only address how we make ends meet; they don’t even address how we expand or grow!
- There is no getting around the fact that if you desire to run a respectable studio and if you desire to grow your business in any fashion; you will need to become proficient with bookkeeping software; the basics of bookkeeping (enough to hire good accountants, and fire bad ones), managing payroll and understanding your financial reports.
- Lastly, and of equal importance; despite the yoga industry being a global “industry,” I realized a few harsh realities; the industry is not organized in a way that supports thriving yoga studios, there is very little historical data (of any kind) and next to no support specifically tailored for studio owners.
- Like most yogis, I prefer to make decisions that are soundly rooted in facts and guided by intuition. Out of necessity, I had to build my own databases and resources due to a lack in available data and pertinent information.
Fast forward to now, nearly 5 years later and amidst a pandemic:
Thrive Yoga made it through the first three hardest years of business ownership and with utmost humility, I am thrilled to share that as a studio group we are flourishing. In 2020, “thriving” means we are making our ends meet, staying relevant, and servicing our communities through inspired offerings. Thankfully, we can do a lot with a little and Thrive Yoga’s are still in demand. I imagine it is because the work we do is important and the way we do it improves community well-being, fosters entrepreneurship, and sustainably and ethically addresses nationwide economic vitality. Because of that we are on the cusp of opening two more locations, and growing our team of studio owners by 100%!
I feel it is important to share the magic behind our expansion. Simply put, we dreamed of a conscious way of doing business and a vision of a Thrive Yoga in every US state. Then we built a business and a system that empowers the existing and aspiring studio owner. There is no franchise or sales team driving Thrive Yoga forward; instead there is a small team of magnificent studio owners that believe in a different way of “doing business” and they chose the Thrive Yoga model. This model now enables them to efficiently focus on their impact, their dharma, and their vision!
When I first started, I desperately needed a potent kind of professional support. I used to wonder what the studio’s early trajectory woulda/coulda been if I had access to a collaborative, growth-oriented, group of studio owners. So that is what we have created; a network of studio owners that share a brand, similar goals, and shared successes. We grow, learn and win as a team; and we want to share this formula with studio owners across the globe. We believe in the importance of yoga, we trust in abundance and we know that together we can achieve more.
I didn’t have the resources I needed back then, but now I have made those resources available. Studio owners can be fully supported and have all the assistance they need to achieve the level of success that they desire. Below is a list of some of the reasons why an existing or aspiring studio owner might choose to take advantage of those resources and join our Thrive Yoga Studio Collective:
Thrive Yoga Provides Studio Owners with the Following:
- A growing network of owners
- A guiding template for the studio structure and organization. This template encourages autonomy and creative license to design your studio as you wish!
- Access to a robust template library for all critical business documents
- An established, recognized and celebrated yoga brand
- Unlimited One-on-One studio ownership training
- Free access to Prana-Preneurs and the Thrive Yoga Co.llective (more information coming in 2021)
- Access to an existing, nationwide customer base
- Business strategy that improves speed of growth and accelerates profitability
- Partnership with a Motivated Leadership Team
- Lessened Investment Risk
- Shared Marketing and Advertising Efforts
- Full Autonomy with Studio Ownership
- Human Resources & Staff Support (You actually need fewer employees because you have access to Thrive Yoga’s existing staff)
- Reduced Day-to-Day Demands
- Well-Rounded Technical Support
- Aid with Finding Business Capital
- Lower Start-up Costs than other competitive franchises (we are not a franchise!)
- Affordable License Fees. We don’t drain our own studios!
- The FREEDOM to work on your passion projects, work within your Zone of Genius and not be weighed down by the constant demands of small business ownership!
If you are an aspiring yoga studio owner and would like more information about Thrive Yoga or the process of becoming a Thrive Yoga, please contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org for an initial discovery-esque conversation.
If you an existing studio owner and would like to connect about your experience as a studio owner, I would love to meet you and celebrate YOUR journey as a studio owner. My journey has been rich and fulfilling and I imagine that yours has too! May our paths cross to share compassion, observation, and hope.
Brittany Phelps, Founder, Thrive Yoga