This scenario might be familiar to some yoga teachers…
You’ve passed your yoga teacher training course! You’re now officially allowed to teach yoga to other people AND get paid for it! You’re euphoric and relieved! And then you realise that you now have to set up your own yoga business, and the learning from scratch starts all over again.
Becoming a yoga teacher is often not a career move that is motivated by money. It’s true that a very few of the most successful teachers probably make enough to live on – and possibly buy a holiday home or two – but for most of us humble yoga teachers, it’s a part-time career or a flexible job that fits around the kids. The primary motivation for most people to make that transition from student to teacher is because they love yoga.
They love what it’s done for their body, mind and emotional well-being, and they want to share and pass on those benefits to others. This holistic and compassionate motivation often doesn’t coincide with the entrepreneurial acumen that’s required to set up your own business.
So for those newbie teachers out there who are scratching their heads (or yawning) at the thought of the business side of becoming a yoga teacher, here are eight basic tips on how to get started.
1. Decide on a Name
It might be as simple as your own name, followed by the word ‘Yoga’. Or, you might feel that you’d like to have a more distinct brand name. Either way, until you’ve decided what your new business is going to be called you can’t really get started on any of the other things you need to do to get your business up and running.
If you’re struggling to decide, search other yoga businesses and make a list of the ones you like the sound of. Or just stick with your name for now – there’s no reason why you can’t re-brand later on down the line.
2. Get Organised
You might not have been best friends with spreadsheets before becoming a yoga teacher, but you’ll need to now. Set up a spreadsheet that keeps track of all your classes, students, revenue, expenses and everything else relating to your yoga business. If you start from day one, filling it out after every lesson, it will just become part of the process and isn’t a big headache at all.
3. Work Out a Marketing Strategy
There are so many ‘business-y’ phrases that sound much more complicated than they really are. A marketing strategy can be as simple as printing out a poster and putting it up in your local community centre – or in the local vicinity of where you’re starting a new class. Many teachers vouch that you can employ every marketing tool in the box and when it comes down to it, the best marketing is good old word of mouth, which only works once you’ve been teaching a while and have regular students.
So when you’re starting out, it’s worth investing a bit of time and money into bringing in new students, whether it’s through targeted Instagram or Facebook ads, or getting some flyers printed. And spread the word to your friends and family!
4. Open a Business Bank Account
This doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific business bank account (although that might be worth looking into), but just make sure that the money from your yoga teaching gets kept separately to the rest of your income so that you can keep track of how much you’re earning. It also means you can pay for any yoga teaching expenses out of that account. That way you can easily keep track of whether your yoga teaching business is profitable – or not.
5. Check that you’re Covered
PLI (Public Liability Insurance) is a must for all yoga teachers. It’s worth checking that you’re covered now that you’re a fully-qualified yoga teacher. If you’re being employed by a yoga studio, they might have blanket cover for all their teachers, but it’s always worth checking. There are also different categories, such as if you teach from your home, or go to other’s homes to teach privately, you might need to add a clause to your insurance.
6. Get au fait about Tax
This simple little word has given self-employed people the horrors for centuries. If you’re self-employed, which most yoga teachers are, you’ll need to work out what tax you’ll be likely to pay by the end of your first year of teaching. I’ve set myself up as a sole trader, which is the most straightforward way to pay your taxes. At the end of the financial year, you’ll need to fill out your self-assessment tax return and submit it to HMRC before the deadline, so they can let you know how much (if any) tax you owe.
The most important piece of advice on this front is not to get intimidated by the whole thing. As long as you keep track of your income and expenses – and keep receipts – you’ll be fine.
7. Get networking!
Now you’re qualified the best way to get your business up and running is to spread the word! Shout about it (literally, and online) and you might just find that there are opportunities waiting for you. If you’re not ready to set up your own classes, let other yoga teachers you know that you’re available to cover lessons. That way you get to increase your teaching experience without all the hassle of actually running it yourself. Then, when you’re teaching your own classes, you can ask those teachers to cover your classes – a win-win situation. There may also be teachers who, for whatever reason, might be looking to hand over a pre-existing class to an enthusiastic new teacher. That way you get a class with a student base already.
8. Ask for Help
It’s easy to think you can just do it all on your own. But actually there are so many people out there who are willing and able to help you, and it makes all the difference. If it all feels overwhelming, admit it! If you’ve never had to do your own marketing, ask a friend who has. Struggling to work out how to do your accounts? Then hire an accountant! First and foremost, you are a yoga teacher, and sometimes it’s ok to admit that there are some things you can’t do as well as teaching yoga.