Business, Yoga

Finding Your Awesome-Sauce

This morning I was catching up on my  Huff Post reading from last week’s vacation. Huff Post is my morning candy. I eat it up with my coffee after breakfast and before I blow dry my hair. This morning I smirked when I read the title : Yoga: The New Career Path for Corporate Execs. The exodus of yet another stressed out corporate drone making a run for the bliss.  The whole article felt like “been there, done that” to me, but I am sure it was insightful to those embarking on their first training or teaching gig.

One thing that irked me in the article was how they kept referring to the teaching of yoga as a pseudo business. Specifically that teaching yoga full time was “like running your own independent business.”

No Shit. Really?

This is exactly why many teachers struggle- they treat their yoga [business] as a cute little thing they do instead of the actual business it is.  If you’re teaching yoga full time, guess what? You are running your own independent business. In order to be successful, you need to do more than simply prepare for your 5pm advanced flow class. You have to market, network and plan.  We all got in it for the love of yoga, but we need to manage it like the business it is.

You have to take your yoga business seriously, manifest while getting off your ass, and figure out your awesome-sauce.  <~~~ Tweet it!

That’s right AWESOME SAUCE.

What I refer to awesome-sauce, in the stuffy business world is called your Unique Selling Pproposition (USP).  It’s your mojo. It’s what makes you different + unique.  It’s not simply your energy as a human being or your voice as a teacher. It’s tangible. Well, not that you can pick it up, but you sure as hell can write it down.

It’s the statement that explains how your yoga [business] is different than every other yoga teacher or studio. It tells your students and Potential Raving Fans how you can help them and what makes you special. It’s in the sauce. Your Awesome Sauce essentially tells them why they should take your advanced flow class instead of the power II class around the corner. It takes thoughtful creativity to come up with the recipe to your Awesome Sauce, but it’s the biggest decision you’ll ever make for your business.

Why You Need Awesome Sauce 

Put simply, you’re not the only yoga teacher (or studio) on the block.  We’re not as unique as we were in 1997. We’re almost a dime a dozen- what bored housewife isn’t embarking on her 200hr training?  You need to stand out. You want your students to think of YOU when they desperately need that little sliver of bliss and just 10 more minutes of savasana. If you create a delicious recipe for your Awesome Sauce, it will stick in their memory and put you above any other class they could squeeze in.

The Ingredients 

There are three things that make Awesome Sauce:

  1. We got Needs!! It must address the needs of your potential students. You gotta have that little some some they can’t live without, that solves their problems, or makes their lives easier. Yep, yoga.
  2. It’s memorable. It has to stick in people’s minds so that you’re the one they think of when they need yoga.
  3. Emotional Connection. Awesome Sauce speaks to the fears, worries, desires, and frustrations of your students.

Awesome Sauce is especially essential in a crowded market. And let me tell ya, this yoga thing isn’t getting any less popular. If you’re up against a large number of competitors studios + teachers, you need an especially tastey Awesome Sauce to cut through the noise. On the other hand, even if your business is the only game in town, you still need Awesome Sauce that speaks to and connects with your students. You want to change them from passive students, to raving fans.  It’s not only about battling the competition, but also establishing your brand in the minds of your customers.

Pack away your nuts, little squirrel! 

Failing to plan is a plan for failure! Amazingly, a majority of those who start their own businesses (even outside the yoga world) fail to create a unique selling proposition. Of those who don’t, almost 100% fail. (I just made that statistic up, but you catch my drift). Here’s the deal: Awesome Sauce doesn’t guarantee success. You gotta put your money where your mouth is and deliver on the promise.

The Creative Process

Your Awesome Sauce won’t just appear out of thin air. Sorry, it takes time, thought and creativity. Silver lining? It’s not hard to come up with the right message if you follow certain steps. Pay attention to your market, check out your competitors, what’s their Awesome Sauce? Differentiate and define yours. Analyze your teaching methods, style and voice.  Figure out why you’re connected to yoga. What has it done for you? If you can pin point that, the benefit you’re delivering to your students is obvious. We’re not talking any (or all) benefits from taking yoga, but the ones they’ll get from taking your yoga class. Let me repeat for clarity: Not just any yoga class, your yoga class. Those benefits keep students coming back for more. It’s the key ingredient to your Awesome Sauce.  If you put in the time and refine as necessary, you will create the Awesome Sauce that will skyrocket your yoga business.

Business, Social Media, Yoga

WTF to do after you finish your RYT.

Most registered yoga schools offer a sliver of information on the business of yoga. But between liability, insurance, employment Yoga Alliance registration, marketing, social media, blogging, business cards and websites things can get busy and confusing fast. Here are 7 things you should do as soon as you finish your 200hr teacher training (if not before).

Yoga Journal Benefits Plus Program

Pay attention to the dirty details! I know, you just want to spread the yoga love but here’s the reality: we live in a litigious society.  If you screw up and someone is injured in your class,  kiss your assets good-bye.  Most yoga studios (if they’re smart!) have liability insurance, but as an independent contractor, you’re probably not covered. If you want to get into corporate yoga, businesses are going to require you carry it and may even request to be added as an additional insured to your policy. Yoga insurance is easy to get, and it’s cheap.  There’s no excuse. Get insured.

Save a life. Get AED/CPR Certified. Some Teacher Training programs offer this in their curriculum, but most do not. It is your responsibility to get this training Any reputable place will require you to have this certification (if they do not – RED FLAG ALERT!!!). It’s inexpensive and you could save a life. Call your local hospital or EMS to find out when the next class is.

Sign up for Yoga Alliance and start tracking your hours. You earned the hours, don’t forget about the technicalities, SIGN UP! (You also get all sorts of mad discounts  with your membership from places like Gaiam, Be Present and Hugger Mugger!) After you sign up, start tracking your hours, ritually. When I first joined YA, nothing was online and everything had to be updated manually. You had to keep track of your teaching hours as well as your continuing education hours on your own and submit them once a year. Welcome to the land of Excel spreadsheets!! Thankfully these days everything can be updated online. It seriously makes life so much easier. So now that it’s easy peasy, don’t forget to do it!  Set a reminder in your Ical, google cal or whatever scheduling tool you use and do it weekly! Recreating your year of learning and teaching sucks, believe me I speak from experience!!

It’s all about style, baby! I am not talking yoga style, I am talking personal style -if you’re trained in Jivamukti, you’re not going to be teaching a Bikram class. Yet every Jivamukti teacher has a different style or teaching voice. Some teachers wow you with their humor, some tantalize with spirituality and some engage through stern direction. Which are you?  If you’ve always been the funny chick and try to turn into a “strict” yoga teacher you’re destined for failure. Your students will see right through you and you’ll struggle to connect with them. Connection is essential to filling your classes! Stay in touch with your personality. Cultivate your authenticity and don’t try to mimic another popular teacher’s style.

Create an online strategy for promoting your classes
Create an online strategy for promoting your classes

Be a social butterfly. Go to other local studios, gyms and community centers, introduce yourself and sign up as a sub. Even better, offer a free class at your local community center or place of worship. Get active in your local yoga community.  If your local community isn’t very active, be the catalyst for this change!  Start a local meet up- chit chat about anatomy or the sutras or whatever it is that gets you juicy and turns you on about yoga.  This Kula will become your family and it’s not just the three dimensional connections you make in real life, it’s online too.  Start joining different yoga networking sites. Check out Find Yoga Studios (tell is founder, Lisa I said hi!) and join The Yoga Recipe, download some classes, learn from seasoned superstars and maybe even upload some classes of your own!  And while we’re talking about the online world… If you don’t like social media, get over it. Right now.   If you haven’t done so already, make sure you create a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest account. Start following people you admire including teachers, activists, organizations, whatever floats your boat.  Follow Darshana Communications  on Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest. Give a shout out and I’ll shout you back. If you scratch me here I’ll scratch you there – Shimmy shimmy cocoa-pop.

You’re a professional! Nothing says I’m a pro like a business card, eh? I jest, but they are important. You can get free ones from Vista Print. If you really want to up your game, check out Moo. They’re a little more hip and you’ll definitely have more design options!

Go Deeper. Start thinking about the next workshop or training you want to attend. Make a top 10 teacher list – who do you want to learn from and what do you want to learn?  Your 200hr just ended, but your training just began. Continue to take lots of classes in various styles from lots of different teachers. Each time you step on your mat, treat it as if it were the first time. Be open to new lessons. Every one and every thing can be a version of your guru, so long as you listen from within.

This winter Darshana Communications will be launching the Yogini Superstar Business Strategy Toolbox!  Everything you need to know to Skyrocket your Yoga Business. Tool box includes  legal consent forms, a personalized bio and tagline, a 1:1 Jam session with me (where you get to pick my brain for a full hour), a 5 pack of class outlines (including class theme, pranayama, asana, meditation and playlist) and so much more! It’s seriously chocked full of everything you need to get rolling as a yoga teacher. Easy Peasy. If you’re still confused, a little lost after reading this list and can’t possibly wait for the YSBS launch, don’t fret!! I am totally here to help you. Shoot me an email and we’ll set up a 15 minute jam session via skype or the phone.

It’s free baby!