Can you build a yoga business on a shoe-string budget? (And when do you, if ever, invest money in it?)

Tell me – on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being high, how much do you dislike taking risks, especially financially?

If your answer is you absolutely hate taking risks – then this is an important article for you to read!

Because growing a business means being willing to take a risk. BUT…..

There are some things you need to remember about risk:

  • Every day is a risk! Accidents happen that you may have had no control over whatsoever; maybe you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Short of never leaving your bed (and that risks your health!) we can’t escape risk!
  • Playing it “safe” may make you feel secure, but it can keep you in circumstances which do nothing to make you feel good.
  •  You certainly can’t build a business without being willing to risk a few things! Money is an obvious one – but heck – losing face or trying something that didn’t work can sometimes feel even worse than losing money – especially when lots of other people see you fail!

That can suck!


The greater the risk , often the greater the personal growth, increase in self-esteem and satisfaction and, in financial terms, often the greater returns.

Like everything in life it seems it is a double-edged sword!

But, as an aspiring yoga teacher, maybe with a “secure” job (even if you’d like to change it), spending any of your hard-earned cash on something which has no guarantees attached can feel just a tad scary. Investing money – when we don’t have much, can feel incredibly risky; especially if others rely on us for support.

However – I’m presuming because you’re reading this, you’ve already invested, or are thinking of investing a not insignificant amount of money on a yoga teacher training course?

If so, then you took, or are thinking of taking a risk; but, and this is important….the potential benefits of taking that training outweigh the risks in your mind.

So, can I ask you a question?

Did you hope that this yoga teacher training might give you a return on that investment – in the form of an alternative career or way of generating income? And have you actually been able to repay that investment with interest from teaching yoga? If the answer is Yes – then you don’t need this article!

If the answer is No – read on!

You see, if all you wanted when you did your yoga teacher training, was to deepen your practice, then hopefully you got the return you were looking for? (Although there might have been cheaper, less stressful ways of achieving that same goal I have to say! Why put yourself through exams if you have no intention of teaching?!)

But if you took your yoga teacher training because you saw it as a first step to changing career and your life, and you haven’t made that transition yet – then that’s not an investment – that’s a cost.

There’s a difference between spending – so something becomes a COST and INVESTING – when you expect, not only to get back your initial investment, but to get something back in interest from your investment.

I’ve worked with and spoken to lots of yoga teachers now, and I’ve realised many of them will describe their yoga teacher training as an investment – but they haven’t actually seen that investment produce a return – either in terms of them teaching or generating income from the teaching.

So is yoga teacher training an “investment?” Well – yes…but ONLY IF it:

  • Gets you a better job and more money because you’ve got more skills
  • Brings you in a new revenue stream. So, for example, you do pregnancy yoga training  and start classes which explode in terms of success – bringing you in a handsome return on your investment.
  • Gets your foot in the door working for studios or gyms so you can develop your skills and experience to move further.

If it doesn’t – then, like any hobby, it’s a cost – although it will almost certainly bring benefits in terms of your health!

Don’t get confused between costs and investments!

Don’t kid yourself something is an investment, when it hasn’t given you a return of some sort.

And don’t see something as a “cost” which could almost certainly help you see a return on your investment!

ALL investment is a risk. But some hold more risk than others – so whether you’re investing time, money or energy, or all three, it pays to think carefully about what you are hoping to achieve, and whether this investment is likely to give you the return you are looking for.

Sounds obvious I know – but I’ve worked with too many yoga teachers now who have fallen for the “bright shiny object” syndrome, taking one yoga course after another, in the hope it will help them develop their yoga teacher career, but who are still struggling to fill their classes, or working for a pittance for gyms or other yoga studios.

6 tips for making investment decisions in your yoga business:

If you’re going to “risk” spending money on anything in business here are my tips for approaching it in a way which is more likely to see you get that return on investment – rather than see that money disappear into a black hole:

  1. Try small first. Risk a small amount of money then TEST it on a small scale first. If it doesn’t work – don’t see that as a failure and give up! But review what you did with a critical eye – think about how you might do things differently, and then test again.
  2. Keep testing!! Eddison tried literally hundreds of experiments which didn’t work before he finally invented the light bulb! I’m not saying you need to do the same (that takes a truly thick skin and determination which I confess I’m not sure I’d have either!)  but the VALUE of being willing to fail, to learn and to move on can not be underestimated.If other people are doing what you want to do – know it is possible – and work on honing what you do.
  3. If something works – scale it up!! ALL businesses start small! They just found what worked and then found ways of scaling that So for example, if you offer a beginner course for your niche and it has a waiting list – put up your prices and offer another one! Inevitably, as you scale up, you’ll need to invest – in more tech support, in admin support, maybe even in staff etc but prove your concept first – then RE-INVEST at least a third of your profit in developing what’s working even further – or branching into new streams of potential income. (No hugely successful business relies on just one source – that’s putting all your eggs in one basket! Diversify your efforts!)Automate! The more you grow, the more you need to automate! (E-mail software, booking software; systems etc) which do the “grunt” work for you.
  4. Learn when you’re hitting your head on a brick wall! You know the definition of insanity – right? Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.If something you offer bombs – change the offer and check you have the right target market! One of my mentors says this: Sales is actually easy. It’s quite simply finding what people want – and giving it to them. I’ve had a couple of classes I’ve launched which have not done well – one where literally no-one turned up! And another I started which never got more than 4 students. I gave it a few weeks – canvassed students to get their feedback – and then pulled the class and made a different offer. Don’t be afraid to do the same.
  5. Be cautious, do your homework but be prepared to take a “calculated” risk. Get comfortable with risk. This is a mind-set piece which you genuinely are going to have to deal with if you are serious about developing your yoga teacher career.
  6. Find a mentor! There’s absolute truth in the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” – and if marketing and business skills aren’t your forte, seriously, someone who has trodden that path before you – successfully – can not only guide you, but save you thousands; not just financially but hours of wasted time too.They know the pitfalls. They know the tried and tested formulas which work. It’s like an apprenticeship – you learn on the job. I can honestly say finding a business mentor I felt I could work with was, quite literally, the difference for me between struggle and success. I’ve never been without one – and still have one now. A good one is not a cost – it’s an investment!

So, as you embark on building a business which actually pays the bills as you’d expect any other career to do – just know that investing is going to be a part of that process – and it’s risky.

But with the right mind-set, careful planning and following the tips, you could see a healthy return on your investment.

Good luck!

Actions you can take:

  • Check out these other articles on my blog which might be helpful around this topic: Why too many yoga teachers are finding yoga an expensive hobby
  • What have you invested in your business so far?  Join our FB group; share your thoughts on this article and your own experience and get additional tips and answers to any questions you have on this or any topic  around building your yoga business and developing your yoga career.

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