How to Open a Yoga Studio Part 1: Create a Business Plan
Still, perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind when authoring your business plan is that no matter how much planning you do, your costs will be a moving target. Jonathan Fields, a corporate lawyer-turned-yoga teacher and owner of two-year-old Sonic Yoga in Manhattan, smartly prepared three years of financial projections when constructing his plan. Because Fields had created and run a personal training business for two years prior to opening Sonic Yoga, he knew the importance of calculating even the unexpected. "I took into consideration everything from corporate structure to renovating a space to unforeseen costs." And Bill Wyland, co-owner of Bernal Yoga in San Francisco, encouraged studio owners to view their business plans as an organic documents. "We had a formal business plan and knew what we needed to do, but as soon as the studio opened, we started to understand what worked and make adjustments based on the needs of the people who were coming."
Writing a business plan is less daunting than it seems. There are many books and online aids to get you started, such as Successful Business Planning in 30 Days by Peter Patsula and The One Page Business Plan by James Horan. Organizations within your community are eager to help as well. Cyndi Lee, founder of OM yoga center in New York, says she might not have assembled a business plan without the help of a now-defunct outfit called Manhattan Renaissance Local Development Corporation, whose purpose was to help women or minority-run small businesses located on 14th Street or south in New York City. The plan gave her something tangible to show the students she’d been teaching at a variety of locations--students who ultimately gave her $25,000 in seed money. "It really wasn’t enough," she says with a laugh. "But I was too naďve then to know how quickly everything--the toilet paper, tissues, candles, curtains, mats, phone lines--adds up."
Indeed, while you'll want to design your plan to incorporate a wide number of variables–-an analysis of the market and a description of your marketing strategy, among others–-one of the most important pieces of your overall strategy will be your best estimates of startup costs, revenues and expenses.
Begin by asking yourself how big a business you want to run. It’s a crucial consideration, not least because the answer will determine how big a space you will need. Telari Bohrnsen, the owner of the 1,700-square-foot One Yoga Studio in Minneapolis, says she postponed writing a business plan until securing her dream space, and she’s thankful she did. "It took nine months to find the right location, but it was really important because I didn’t know how much money I’d need beforehand. If I’d written a plan for a 500-square-foot space it wouldn’t have worked. I would have had to rebuild the plan entirely."
Because leasing and building out a space will be your biggest startup cost, it is imperative that you assess how much space you will need per student and where, exactly, it makes the most sense to open your doors.