How to Open a Yoga Studio Part 1: Create a Business Plan
Though there are no hard-and-fast rules, a good rule of thumb is to figure on needing roughly 21 square feet for every practitioner. This estimate takes into account a two-by-six-foot mat and still allows for one to two extra feet per person. (In cities, because rent is expensive and space is often limited, you may have to squeeze people into a slightly smaller area. Thankfully, urban dwellers are usually comfortable being in closer quarters than suburban students, who will expect their space.)
If your life is portable, compare market prices before making any decisions, as it will cost you much more to open your doors in some cities. For example, in New York City commercial property owners command an average of $80 per square foot, according to the commercial real estate advisory firm Grubb & Ellis. Meanwhile, Bostonians pay an average of $30 per square foot; folks in Portland, Oregon pay $23 per square foot; and in Oklahoma City, average rates are $8 per square foot. In post dotcom-bust San Francisco, rates that soared as high as New York City prices are now as low as $25 per square foot. In general, knowing your options will help you take advantage the market's current opportunities.
When writing a business plan, be as realistic as possible about your start-up time, what percentage of your revenue will be spent on marketing, and what percentage of your revenue should go to rent. Naturally, the duration of your start-up time--the period between signing a lease and opening your studio’s doors--depends on how long it takes to prepare your space for business. How much you spend on marketing will be driven by how many students you can rely on at the outset. (Fliers, which most fledgling studios rely on heavily to get the word out, are blessedly cheap, especially if you design them yourself. Advertising in publications, on the other hand, will cost you. A business card-size ad in the free San Francisco paper SF Weekly costs $180, for example.) The percentage of your income that should go toward rent will vary by location, but many studio owners advise that you anticipate spending up to a third of your revenue on rent in the first year, and a quarter or less in subsequent years.
The fact is that while writing a business plan will force you to write down literally everything you are going to need to start your business, some of your initial assumptions about those needs will be correct while others—well, won’t be. Don’t be surprised. More important, don’t be disillusioned. Adapting to the unforeseen is all a part of the process.
Constance Loizos is a San Francisco-based writer whose work has appeared in more than a dozen magazines, including Inc., Fast Company, and San Francisco Magazine. She is currently writing a book about businesswomen.