Want to share your passion for your yoga—and possibly turn a profit? Chesley Long founded Camp Yoga two years ago and has some tips to share with other aspiring yogapreneurs.
When I launched Camp Yoga—a yoga-focused sleepover camp for grownups that marries all of the fun of summer camp and yoga festivals, minus the spendy pricetags—I was brand-new to yoga entrepreneurship. Now, just two years later, I’m running camps in seven locations across North America and hoping to increase that to 15 by 2020. Friends often ask me how I did it. Here’s a little inside scoop to help you make your yoga biz dreams a reality, too.
1. Do what I call “reverse math.”
If you’re a yogi, there’s a good chance that building a yoga business is so deeply entrenched in working from your heart and soul that decisions can be made to start something even if it may never work. That’s why it’s crucial to calculate all of the costs involved in your big idea—and I mean all costs. Here’s where the “reverse math” comes in: If you take rent, loan payments, studio build-out costs, staff, heat, marketing—heck, even what the toilet paper is going to cost you—that will get you your monthly overhead expenses. Then, you’ll need to calculate how many memberships your venue can hold based on mat space. If sales at max capacity doesn’t exceed your costs by the income you want to make, you’re going to need to find a different business model. So many of us have so much love for the Eastern world’s philosophy that we often forget that it still needs to translate into mortgage payments and feeding ourselves.
2. Know that you’re going to have to make some sacrifices.
If you’re getting into the yoga biz, you’re in it with your heart—no question. But, how far are you willing to go to make your business flourish? Consider early on what you’d be willing to sacrifice. When I created Camp Yoga, it wasn’t for the money. Yet now that I need to live and grow the business, sacrifice means living in a trailer with no heat to get it off the ground. Hey, I’m not saying you have to join the nomad life in order to make your biz work. But I do think launching your business with your eyes wide open to the fact that it’s going to take blood, sweat, tears, and likely some serious sacrifices—whatever those mean for you—is important. It’ll help you take those life changes you’re in for in stride, and stay grounded—and committed to the practices that likely inspired you to launch your business in the first place.
For the love of Meryl Streep, stop listening to those voices in your head that say you can’t. Because you can, and you will. When I started Camp Yoga, I didn’t realize it was going to mean long, lonely nights in a trailer staring into the dark wondering what the heck I just did, giving up my life in Canada to travel around the United States growing Camp Yoga. When you’re alone, fear and self-doubt can roll in real quick. Knowing that lows are part of the program can help you prepare for them—and meet your fear head on with courage. What your business needs most is for you to remind yourself how awesome you are. Along these same lines, go ahead and remove the complainers from your life. You know, those people who question you at every turn or have a bit more skepticism than optimism in their tone when they offer encouragement.
This one may sound drastic, but hear me out. For starters, there’s a good chance your buddies aren’t going to have the answers you’re looking for. If they did, wouldn’t they have done what you’re trying to do? More importantly, think about it this way: Are you asking your friends questions about your business because you legitimately need their advice—or because you just want to feel better about what you’re doing? And oftentimes our closest friends clue in to the fact that they’re being asked something for the latter reason, and so they just tell us what we want to hear to feel better—not what we might need to hear. So, rather than leaning on your friends, go to the experts. (See next tip.)
You have the idea, the heart, the passion. What could stand in your way? Oh, wait. You don’t have any experience in sales or marketing…or real estate…or finance. Well, here’s the great news: You don't have to be good at these things. For quite affordable rates, there are a multitude of ways to grow your business, expand your reach, get more people in the doors of your business, and make sure the financial side of things is in good hands. You just have to know where your strengths are—and hire the right people to do (or at least advise you on) the areas you’re less experienced with.
Want to meet Chesley Long and experience Camp Yoga for yourself? Sign up for Winter Camp in Colorado, February 24–26, where you’ll be in for dogsledding, archery, wine-tasting, moccasin-making, and plenty of yoga and fitness classes taught by some of the region’s best instructors. Visit campyoga.ca for more info.