Why you MUST automate your yoga business (Or you’ll go stir crazy!)
I had one of my course students post in the community group recently, asking how anyone managed to keep a handle on student numbers, and what they had paid. She had set up drop in’s and a block membership, which she was doing on paper – but finding it a complete nightmare to manage.
She was still early on in the process, and her classes were still small, but she was already beginning to realise as they grew, which hopefully they would, then this could become an administrative drain as well as a nightmare.
She was right to identify this as something which needed sorting sooner, rather than later!
Here’s my take on this.
If you’re serious about making your yoga teaching a real business, with the capacity to grow, yet not have you tied to it like a ball and chain, you MUST set up systems and processes as early as you can to make the day to day running of your business run smoothly and with minimal effort from you.
And here are the lessons I’ve learned and some tips about the best way to set this up.
If this is something you’re serious about – invest in tech support for your admin.
Students love flexibility - but this means you MUST have systems which support that.
Two key investments I’d make as early as possible: an e-mail CRM system and a booking system.
Take the money seriously – invest in an online accounting software.
See these as an investment – not a cost – because they save you time.
One of the (many!) mantras/quotes I have in my head is:
“Thinking big but acting small is the same as thinking small.”
Now I realise you, like many other yoga teachers are starting from scratch – and may not have a lot of spare cash floating around to invest in systems which will support you as you grow, but there’s building your business on a shoestring, having an eye to the future, and there’s playing so small you’re not in the right mind-set to grow.
And I’m a huge believer that what you focus on – you get. Focus on playing small – you get small.
Let’s face it – if you wanted to open a yoga studio you’d have LOADS of capital investment to fund – as well as pretty high fixed costs every month, whether you fill your classes or not. If you’re building, as I did, your business using community spaces, you don’t have those costs, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to think like a business – and businesses understand they need to invest.
So be prepared to invest in the things below.
Research into what students are looking for from a yoga class/teacher shows some fairly common answers.
They want times and a venue which is reasonably accessible to them – truth is, the closer it is for them from work or their home, the more likely they are to look at that first. It’s not that they won’t travel if it’s for a teacher they love – I have students who are definitely outside my “catchment area”, but they are the minority.
But the other key thing they look for is value and flexibility in terms of how they attend/commit. The old model so many yoga teachers used to use, (and some still do), which asked students to commit to a school term, is not ideal. When you think about it, most of them will have things coming up over so many weeks which means they won’t be able to attend, and they’ll perceive paying for a whole term as a waste of their money if they’re going to miss a few weeks.
So make it easier for them to say “Yes” – with more flexible packages.
BUT, the problem with this is it becomes a nightmare to manage if you’re doing it all using paper based systems!
Which leads to the next point….
How will you store and manage your students’ contact details? How will you write to them to let them know about new courses or classes or retreats you’re running? Getting a process and system in place to build your student database, and a database of those who enquire, is absolutely critical if you are serious about building relationships which will grow and last.
When someone enquires via e-mail – get their e-mail on your news list! When someone rings – ask for their e-mail! When you enrol a new student – have your enrolment form ask for their contact details – and make sure you keep it up to date! You can often start off with a free version: Mailchimp for example has a free version – and pay as you go option in terms of sending out e-mails, depending on the size of your list. But choose one – and get it in place!
The other thing to have in place is a booking system – and it doesn’t have to be an expensive one like Mind Body. I’ve got one that doesn’t even come up on the search for best yoga booking systems! But it works fine – and is a reasonable monthly cost based on active student numbers. Just take a little time, research the best fit for you – and get it in place! Seriously, it will make your job SO much easier in terms of admin.
So as early as you can, get these two at least in place.
The other thing I’d seriously consider is getting your accounts online right from the beginning. I use Sage, as I used it with a previous business, but there are others out there, like QuickBooks – which get good reviews, and which, I promise you, will not only make your book-keeping a lot easier once you get used to using them, they will actually help you as your business grows because you’ll be able to see exactly how your accounts look on a weekly and monthly basis.
Any business which ignores basic maths, isn’t a serious business…………(See 3 costly yoga business mistakes: mistake number 1 )
Yes, these things might be a fixed cost every month – but remember, these are an investment which will support you as your business grows.
This isn’t just about supporting you as you grow, helping you keep in touch with your students, building relationships and making you look like a professional.
This is about something even more important than that – valuing your time.
Because time is your most precious and most limited resource. If you are spending a bucket load of that time doing admin, that is time you could (and actually should) be using to develop new offerings and attracting new students.
These systems and processes do some of the heavy lifting for you – so you can get on with the far more important job of focusing on growing your business.
Actions you can take:
- Check out these other articles on my blog which might be helpful around this topic: Can you build a business on a shoestring budget
- Join our FB group; share your thoughts on this article and your own experience in using tech support such as CRM’s and booking software. Have a question about what others use/do? I’m sure the community will help!You’ll also get additional tips and answers to any questions you have on any topic around building your yoga business and developing your yoga career. So do join us!