3 Costly Yoga Business Mistakes: Mistake Number 1

3 Costly Yoga Business Mistakes: Mistake Number 1

Last week, I posted about the 3 key questions I believe any yoga teacher serious about wanting to actually generate some form of income from their yoga business or yoga teaching should be able to answer.

Those questions – just to recap for those of you who didn’t see that post were:

  1. What income did you generate from your yoga teaching last month?
  2. What profit did you actually make, once you had deducted any and all of your costs?
  3. Do you think you have a handle on the money side of your yoga teaching?

I believe, if you do not know the answers to the first 2 questions, (even when you go check your records), and you answer “No” to question 3, then as the saying goes, “Houston, we have a problem!” (And I strongly suggest you do read that first post because it helps explain WHY having an adult and thoughtful relationship with your money, especially with any income you generate, will save you a LOT of headaches down the line, as well as ensure you build a sustainable yoga business or career rather than something which ends up causing you grief. Visit: “3 Financial Questions All Yoga Teachers Should Be Able To Answer If They Are To Survive”).

From my experience, there are 3 common mistakes I see too many yoga teachers make which mean they cannot answer those 3 questions in the right way. Over the next 3 weeks, we’ll look at each of these 3 mistakes in turn.

Mistake number 1:You have no idea, or record, of what your TRUE costs of teaching are.

What are the TRUE costs of you doing your current teaching? Do you actually have any idea? Or is it a rough guess?

Do you buy incidentals like candles or incense but find yourself not keeping receipts or saying things like “Well, it’s just a couple of pounds.” Doesn’t matter if it’s not in my accounts.

Do you teach solely in other studios or gyms – so you don’t really count your travel costs or your insurances when you calculate how much you’re actually making for your teaching time and commitment?

Do you teach your own classes, but not really keep receipts or check your accounts regularly, then scramble around at the end of the year because you know the tax man will be after you?!

Do you find yourself feeling a little resentful when you’re giving up what turns out to be quite a bit of your precious time and energy and enthusiasm to teach your students, and have this creeping realisation that you’re doing rather a lot for what feels like rather a little?

The truth is, even if you’re teaching for a gym or studio, and have no other business things to attend to, you still have to prepare for your classes, drive to the location, give your all in the class, and drive home. Often at unsociable hours. Maybe even with gyms or studio owners who show little appreciation for what you do.

And if you’re doing your own classes, you’ve all the marketing, admin and bookkeeping to attend to on top of all that!

The other stark truth is a yoga teacher feeling increasingly resentful rarely gives of their best to their students.

And the trouble then is, you may feel bad, or guilty for feeling resentful! After all, you’re a yoga teacher! Yogis are caring and giving people, right? They do this as a vocation because they want to help people and talk of money is an awkward and rather distasteful subject. And profit? Gosh! That’s a real dirty word!

I want to repeat what I said in the first article 3 Financial Questions All Yoga Teachers Should Be Able To Answer If They Are To Survive.”

Your relationship with money is the same as ANY other relationship.If you ignore it, if you don’t know, or care, what it’s doing, then it’s likely to turn around and bite you on the bum at some point or leave you high and dry! Neither scenario is pretty!

So, are you ready to become more of an adult with your yoga business finances?

Then let’s look at mistake number 1 again:

You MUST record and keep a handle on ALL the costs associated with your yoga teaching.

Here are just some of the things I’ve actually experienced yoga teachers ignoring in their business.

Are you doing the same?

    • Your insurance

      Some gyms or studios insure you through their own license – most don’t! It’s a business cost! And the tax man should offset that against your income.

    • Yoga magazines or other subscriptions such as your membership for a recognised body.

      Another cost. If you worked in any other field, ongoing CPD is usually funded by the company you work for – and is an expected part of your development. Yoga Alliance, British Wheel of Yoga – all expect you to continue upgrading your skills.

    • Your petrol/travel costs!

      OK – so in most jobs you don’t have an allowance to claim for going to your place of work. However, if you then have to go somewhere else as part of your job, your workplace will give you a travel allowance.If you’re running your own classes however, and moving from one place to another, in some countries you can claim a mileage allowance – as you need to move around in order to deliver your services. This is usually a reasonable amount per mile to help cover costs of maintenance and depreciation from using your own vehicle in the course of work requirements.And even if you’re not entitled to an allowance for petrol, I’d highly recommend you get a   grip on just what you’re having to pay out of your own money in order for you to teach. Even if it’s just an extra £5 a week – that’s £20 a month which you need to take off what your yoga teaching is earning you, so you can see more clearly what that teaching is actually generating real time for you.The remaining costs are more for those of you running classes or studios on your own – but even if you’re not, if you’re thinking of setting up on your own, it’s worth taking a look at this list anyhow!

  • Your props – and material costs – right down to the tea bags!

    I’ve seen studios who offer tea after class. Have fresh bottled water particularly when they’re running workshops, have beautiful candles, nice plants, incense stick and holders, mats, bolsters, blocks…the list goes on! I’ve even heard people say things like “Oh, it’s just a couple of pounds,” so I didn’t record it as a cost.These are NOT incidentals! They add up! And the problem with people with that type of mindset is they don’t just do this for one item…they do it for lots of things! Then it really adds up!

  • Your printing costs – paper/office materials you need.

    Every poster, flyer, information sheet for students, attendance sheets…all has to be paid for by you if you’re running your own classes.

  • Any software you need to run your business – for your mailing lists, booking students onto classes, etc.

    I use Teamup software to book my students into classes and workshops and to record their memberships. I use MailChimp as my e-mail manager. I have to pay website hosting charges, domain name charges, technical help charges, etc.

  • Your bank charges.

    Sigh!! If your students pay online, or even when you deposit cash or cheques – it all costs!!

  • Further training.

    If you’re working for a gym or studio then it’s highly unlikely they will pay you to upgrade your skills! However, if you’re running your own business, then you should be allowed to cover training costs as an allowance against your profits. I paid for my 300-hour advanced training through my yoga business. If this is a real business, and not an expensive hobby, then you should too.

  • Telephone charges.

    Fairly straightforward this one. Not an issue if you work for a studio or gym – but all business calls, your landline and broadband which you will need to run your business should be part of your yoga business costs.

  • Advertising costs.


  • Music license.

    If, like me, you teach in community halls or other public spaces, you need a music license if you are playing any kind of music which is copyrighted.​

  • Maybe you can think of things I’ve missed?

The truth is, these things all add up.I strongly recommend you take a good long look at the actual money you spendand the hours of time and energy you use up to enable you to teach.For some, there’s a stark realisation they would earn more if they worked at McDonalds.

If you’re doing this for love – it’s your “pay it forward” activity, then go ahead. However, you’re doing it in the full conscious knowledge that this is what you are doing, and it is your conscious and deliberate choice.

Just don’t bury your head in the sand thinking you’re bringing in a little extra cash from your teaching or making “X” amount of income from your yoga business, when the reality is you’re looking through rose-coloured spectacles!




Actions you can take:

    • checkJoin our Yoginiors Facebook Group  and share your stories or experiences about how YOU have felt starting out teaching yoga. Did you start out enthusiastic then it waned?  What made it hard?  I’d love to hear from you!
    • checkSet aside some time to take a look at your yoga finances.If you’re currently not really keeping receipts for “incidentals”, then get a folder, and promised yourself from now on you’ll file those receipts.No bookkeeping system or software? Get one!! (Maybe this is a post for another time…).
  • checkLook out for the next 2 articles in this series of posts where you’ll learn the other 2 big financial mistakes you could be making.

If you’d like to learn more about how to build a successful yoga teacher career, join our Facebook group.

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