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From Yoga Teacher to Yoga Business Owner: Transition with Ease

Today, it’s easier than ever before to become your own boss. Especially for yoga teachers, starting an entrepreneurial journey opens up a world of opportunities. But, the transition from being a yoga teacher to becoming a yoga business owner may seem a little daunting. Want to find out about the differences and what elements you should bear in mind? Let’s dive in: From Yoga Teacher to Yoga Business Owner: Transition with Ease!

When I embarked on this journey myself about 5 years ago, I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it. But what I had very clear for myself was that teaching yoga classes alone wasn’t going to fulfil me. What I knew was that I had an extreme drive to help yogis and teachers expand their career opportunities by learning English and the business tools to build and expand their own international careers. I wanted to help others, while at the same time have the freedom to work whenever and travel wherever. To work on my terms, sharing and teaching what I’m most passionate about. I knew I had to break free from teaching saturated class schedules, which for me were a combination of English and yoga classes. And grow the courage to quit the safety of my monthly payrolls, but start for myself.

Check out the blog for more articles to support your yoga business development

Since then a lot has happened. In the next months, on the blog, I’ll share more about my journey becoming an entrepreneur. I’ll share the tools and systems I’ve tried; what works and what doesn’t. I’ll help you prevent making the mistakes I made. And I’ll share the elements that will help you build the foundation of your own international career so that you too can quit the job that doesn’t fulfil you and instead experience freedom and fulfilment by sharing your passions within the field of yoga and wellness.

I’m here to support you transition from being a teacher to business owner with ease; offering clarity, structure and strategies!

So let’s start today with the transition! What really are the difference between your role as a teacher and business owner? What do these differences mean for the way you show up, your tasks and responsibilities? My intention for this blog/session is to help you build awareness of the shifts you have to make becoming a thriving yoga business owner. 

Yoga Teacher VS Yoga Business Owner

First of all, when I’m speaking about teachers only, I refer to teachers that are employed by a studio, school other type of organisation. These teachers are being paid by others and those payments are handled by others too. Yoga business owners are the teachers that create their own type of services. From membership to courses, retreats, workshops or other types of events. It may be that right now, you teach a class schedule that you’ve organised yourself, and think ‘I’m a yoga teacher’. But if you’re responsible for taking your students’ payments, I consider you a business owner too!

So on a more practical level, let’s have a look at the differences in your role as a teacher VS a business owner in terms of skills, responsibilities, values, and mindset. 

For the purpose of this session, I’ve kept it general to give you an overview. Depending on the type of classes or business model you set up, these may differ and could obviously include more precise details. 

The skills of a yoga teacher look somewhat like this:

  • Teaching proficiency (knowledge of the asanas, anatomy, yoga philosophy and other teaching skills and techniques)
  • Social skills (think of holding space, listening skills, dealing with student requests or questions). 
  • Class prep and delivery (think of the way you design your classes, sequences, or other practices and the way you deliver them).

The skills of a yoga business owner look somewhat like this: 

  • Business model and service development
  • Marketing, visibility and service promotion
  • Financing (including pricing your offerings and taking payments, or sending invoices).
  • Scaling and growth (which could include service expansion or creating a customer journey to keep your students with you for longer – I’ll speak more about student retention in another session).

The responsibilities of yoga teachers look somewhat like this:

  • Continuous professional development of your teaching skills – in other words: continuing education (as a yoga teacher you never stop learning).
  • Student involvement (I believe a good teacher maintains their relationships).
  • Self-care and Svadhyaya so that you can walk the walk: show up as your ‘best’ self and teach according to the famous concept ‘teach what you know’. 

The responsibilities of yoga business owners look somewhat like this:

Next to continuous development, self-care and Svadhyaya, because these are essential elements I believe for any person, in any profession, also think of:

  • Continuous professional development in terms of business and marketing knowledge to work with the most effective up-to-date strategies.
  • Business management, including daily tasks, admin and communications
  • Staying up to date with trends and managing your visibility, social media, or SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Client management and retention (communication and satisfaction). 
  • Product development 
  • In the long run, it may include managing your team

These things grow on you. Skills you develop, and responsibilities you learn to take on along the way. Obviously there are ways to do this efficiently, but I know that with the right mindset you’re capable of learning and developing all of this. 

Yoga Teacher VS Yoga Business Owner Values & Mindset

Speaking of ‘mindset’, I believe that for many this requires quite a shift. For me personally, in the beginning of my journey, I felt really uncomfortable in my role as a business owner. I stepped into this role as an English and yoga teacher and had a lot to learn. I’d care so much about my students, that I’d forget about myself. I felt so passionate that I’d overwork myself and neglected my self-practice. I’d make myself 100% available or was easy-going with last minute cancellations. I think these are beautiful qualities and it’s great to be flexible, but as teachers, we shouldn’t forget we’re also running a business. 

How your values and mindset are interconnected

The differences in mindset between teachers and business owners has a lot to do with your values. Your values as a human being, teacher and business owner at the core should be the same. But some principles may show up in different ways. What I mean is, for example, if one of your values is respect.

As a teacher this could be you respect your students’ time and you expect your students to respect yours. If they come to class late, but you have no idea why, you don’t want to punish them and say, you can’t enter anymore. Instead, they may enter, but do so in absolute silence and position themselves in the back of the room to not disturb anyone else.

As a business owner, what this could mean is that if a student cancels 10 minutes before class or doesn’t show up, you keep their payment and possibly offer a solution such as rescheduling or offering a discount on another session. Why? Because to respect your time and for your students to respect yours, you need to establish some principles. The timeslot your student booked could have been taken by someone else if they cancelled 24h in advance for example.

See how your values at the core are the same, but the way they show up in your role as a yoga teacher and yoga business owner are different?   

Your values and mindset as a yoga teacher could look like this:

  • The embodiment of your role as a yoga teacher and what this means for the way you teach and connect with your students
  • Dealing with personal development such as fears or limiting beliefs in your own time, not in class
  • Discipline; consistency in your self-practice and personal development

Your values and mindset as a yoga business owner could look like this:

  • Maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit and investing time in the growth of your business
  • Networking and relationships, including collaborations and student satisfaction 
  • Time and project management, including set times to connect and disconnect to prevent overwhelm and stay present
  • Creating work-life balance to avoid burnout and not overwork yourself
  • Staying true to your yogic principles while running a business, for example, balancing financial success with yoga’s core values.
  • Willingness to adapt and learn in the business world.
  • Embracing the responsibilities of leadership.

How do you transition with awareness and ease?

The differences between your role as a yoga teacher and business owner may be clear now, but how then do you transition? Just as you didn’t become an effective and knowledgeable teacher in one day, becoming an efficient and successful business owner doesn’t happen overnight.

1. Reflect on your values and how these take shape in your business

Remember how I spoke about how your values show up in different ways depending on the role you take on. To give you another example, think of your availability. For example, one of my values is clear, open and honest communication. In the beginning of my journey, I made the mistake thinking I should also communicate 24/7, meaning that I’d be available to reply to emails and messages as soon as I received them, to keep my students and clients happy. But in the long run, being available all day isn’t sustainable. It’ll drain you and supporting your students becomes less genuine. To protect my energy (which is another value of mine), I’d set times and days I’m available. I’ll still get back to people, communicate openly, clearly and honestly, but not instantly. 

2. Reflect on your task management

Task management speaks to the way you work. As a business owner, your tasks include more than preparing and delivering classes. Think of how you show up in the time you spend with your students, but also the time you work the tasks behind the scenes. Or even the way you manage your team (which is likely something that you want to invest in after a period of time). 

In this step, consider your routine, habits, daily tasks, the way you priorities other tasks, time management, your bookkeeping systems, content creation, marketing systems, product development, growth systems – this list can go on and I’d need another session to explain all of these concepts, but for now, take some time to reflect on your way of working and how you’d like to manage your tasks. 

3. Decide on your policies

I see policies as the guideline for a structured way to live according to your principles.

One of my principles or values is ‘accessibility’. What that means for my policies is that for example, we have a lot of students that live in lower income countries and on top of that are unemployed. They wish to make a living off teaching yoga while sharing their passion, but due their financial situation will never have the chance to develop the skills they need to do so. To me, it’s only fair we offer scholarships for people that encounter themselves in positions like these. The tough part is when the applications come in and we have to choose. Because as a human being and yoga teacher, I’d offer a scholarship to everyone. As a business owner, this isn’t feasible, so I have to choose. My policy is that only people that meet certain standards are considered for these scholarships.

Sometimes, as a business owner you may need to grow some strength and courage to make tough decisions. What helps with this, is to stay true to your values, but also set boundaries or decide on policies, to not be taken advantage of.

4. Understand the importance of structure and systems

I often hear, Annie, you’re so organised! Do you think I am always like this? My friends will tell you otherwise. But in my business, I need to. And after years of running my own business, I couldn’t do without. They help me stay clear, focussed, connected, on track, and most of all prevent overwhelm and chaos.

Some teachers say, ‘ahhh, but I’m too easy going, I need to go with the flow, I can’t stick to my own deadlines’ – whatever is holding you back from building your own structure or systems aren’t these thoughts. It’s clarity on what you actually need to do.

If you believe structure and systems take away your freedom – you’re wrong! You still get to decide what you do and when, but with a structure that promotes your growth!

The trick to growth and success isn’t discipline or motivation, because I believe that if you want to build your business, you’ve got those. The trick is gaining clarity on what you need to do and building your own working structure and systems.

Launch & Expand Your International Career

In the next weeks, I’ll be back to speak more about all of these topics individually. For now, I’d love to hear what you’re most interested in learning about, so I can help you transition from being a teacher ‘only’ to becoming your own boss! 

If you’re interested in learning more, make the transition and set yourself up with a solid foundation for your own yoga business, check out the Launch Your International Career: Yoga Business Foundations!

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