How To Start a Successful Yoga Business
The yoga industry is a whopping $11.56 billion industry in the US alone. Although the industry, along with the health and wellness sector as a whole, has been heavily affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, it has shown a growth of more than $2 billion from the $9.09 market size back in 2015. Moreover, the industry has also shown strong signs of bouncing back.
So, whether you are an experienced yoga trainer looking to open your own yoga studio or an entrepreneur just looking to start a business, then a yoga business is definitely a potential opportunity to pursue.
However, just because it’s a promising business in a growing industry, doesn’t mean success is automatically guaranteed. You’ll still need to carefully plan the business, conduct proper market research, and use the right marketing strategies to attract more clients to grow your business.
In this guide, we’ll discuss all you need to know about starting a successful yoga studio business, including but not limited to:
- Different business models for a yoga business
- Importance of market research and competitive analysis
- Legal requirements of starting a yoga business
- Equipment and tools you’ll need to start a yoga studio
- How to market your yoga business and attract more clients
Without further ado, let us begin.
Different Models of Yoga Business
The concept of a yoga business might seem fairly simple: you teach Yoga classes and get paid for it. However, we can actually execute the business in various different ways.
In general, we can divide these different types of Yoga businesses into just three major business models:
1. Traditional Yoga Studio
This one is pretty self-explanatory, we either rent or purchase a property (at least, a big enough room) and set it up as our yoga studio. This is typically the most expensive out of the three business models, especially in startup capital, but you’ll also get the most freedom and versatility in designing your own studio, how to market your business, and so on.
There are also various alternatives to this model, for example, some locations may have ready-to-use yoga studios for rental, and you can start your business here. Also, you can partner up with local gyms and start your business on their premises.
However, the basic principle remains the same: you purchase/rent a place and start a yoga studio.
2. Home-Based Yoga Studio
If, for example, you are an experienced yoga instructor with loyal students, then it’s a viable option to open a yoga studio in your home if you have a space big enough. Depending on how much you charge per client, typically the room should be big enough to accommodate 8 to 10 students to ensure cost-effectiveness. However, if you can charge a higher price, obviously you can open private classes.
The main benefit of this model is the lower startup capital needed since you don’t need to rent a property. However, if you are not living alone, you should also consider issues like the privacy of your roommate or family members.
3. Mobile Yoga Class (and Virtual Class)
In this model, you are the one visiting your client’s home, office, or other agreed locations to teach them there. You can charge a higher price here, but you’ll get less freedom and versatility since you’ll have to adapt to the client’s available room every time.
You don’t need to rent a property, but you might need to invest in a vehicle large enough to store equipment and tools. But if your classes don’t rely on additional equipment, you can probably rely on public transportation to save money.
Another important consideration is that now you can provide virtual yoga classes online, whether live (with video conferencing software) or pre-recorded (for example, via YouTube). This can further drive down your startup costs and operational expenses, although there are also unique challenges you should consider compared to the traditional in-person classes.
Different Yoga Specialities
If you are an experienced yoga teacher specializing in certain yoga disciplines, then you can skip this section.
However, if you’re just starting out, it’s important to understand that there are different types of yoga disciplines to consider, some of them are:
- Kundalini Yoga
- Hatha Yoga
- Ashtanga Yoga
- Vinyasa Yoga
- Prenatal Yoga
- Bikram Yoga
The overall practice between different specialties/disciplines is more or less the same, but the teaching methods can be very different.
While you can try to be a jack-of-all-trades and offer different specialties at once, keep in mind that this approach will either take a long time (to learn the different disciplines) or need a lot of money to hire different teachers. It’s best to focus on just one or probably two specialties to get your business off the ground.
Make sure to decide on what type of yoga specialty you want to focus on before planning the business.
Market Research and Competitive Analysis
Before committing your money, time, and efforts to start a yoga business, it’s crucial to first perform market research and competitive analysis to determine three things:
- Whether there’s indeed enough demand for yoga classes in your area
- Who are your ideal clients and their demographics, psychographics, and behavioral information
- Your potential competitors in the area (other yoga studios, yoga instructors, gyms with yoga classes, etc.), and whether you can compete with them.
If, for example, there is indeed sufficient market size but the competition is too tight, then it might not be worth pursuing.
Nowadays, we can perform basic competitive analysis even with just Google search. We can Google queries like “yoga studios near me”, “yoga classes near me”, and you’ll get results for nearby yoga businesses in your area.
You can then research these businesses further. If possible, you might also want to visit these businesses and even try their classes to check their client profile, how busy they are, how they promote their businesses, and so on.
If necessary, you can get help from professional agencies for more thorough market research.
Develop a Buyer Persona
Once you’ve conducted proper market research, you should’ve gathered enough data about your potential audience. This is the time to develop a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional description of your ideal client, which should answer these key questions:
- Who are they? Demographics data like age, location, gender, and so on.
- What do they do? Whether they are employees, business owners, or students.
- Where do they go for information? Social media, from their friends, browsing, and so on
- What’s their average day like? Describe what an average day is like for your target customer
- What type of content/information do they prefer? The type and style of content they are seeking.
- What’s important for them when selecting a yoga class? List what’s most important for them.
- What are their most common objections? List potential obstacles to not choosing your yoga business
This is not an exhaustive list, and in general, the more information you include in your buyer persona, the better.
Products and Services You’ll Sell
As a yoga studio business, the primary service you are selling is obvious: the yoga classes.
However, be more specific when planning your business, especially if you are going to write a proper business plan:
- What kinds of classes will you teach?
- Will you offer varying classes for different fitness levels, age groups, pregnant women?
- Will you sell additional products and services?
It’s actually a good idea to supplement your yoga business by selling additional products like yoga mats, branded towels, fitness clothing, shoes, and other types of yoga equipment. You can also sell supplemental services like meditation classes, fitness classes, and so on.
How should you determine what kinds of services and products you should offer? Go back to your market research and buyer persona. Figure out your target audience’s needs and problems, and provide valuable solutions.
Legal Requirements for Starting a Yoga Business
This will vary depending on your location, but most states in the US do not require you to be a certified yoga teacher before you can technically start a yoga business.
However, a yoga certification will significantly help you in attracting more clients, and you’ll also be able to charge a higher price.
Yoga Alliance is considered the most recognizable Yoga teacher credential internationally, and by becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT), you can get various benefits including marketing your studio on the Yoga Alliance’s directory.
You will need to attend classes to meet the certification requirements, as well as financial investments, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Another important consideration is insurance. Some states and countries would legally require you to be insured before you can start teaching your yoga classes.
However, even if you are not legally required to be insured, we’d strongly recommend getting at least basic insurance policies like:
- General liability insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Rental damage coverage, if you rent your yoga studio
- Products individual annual aggregate
- Identity protection, especially if you are using your own name as your yoga class brand
- Online teaching coverage
- Stolen equipment coverage
Check with your local insurance providers whether they provide tailored packages for yoga businesses and yoga instructors. These insurance policies will protect yourself and your yoga business in the event of accidents and client’s injuries during and/or as the result of your yoga class, and other potential issues.
Out of all of these, the two most important are general liability insurance, which covers accidents that can lead to injuries, and professional liability insurance, which covers malpractice claims. So, at the very least, get these two.
Registering Your Yoga Business Name
If you want to win more clients, then obviously establishing strong branding is very important.
Decide on a unique, easy-to-pronounce, and easy-to-remember brand name for your yoga business. Also, design an attractive and memorable logo that will represent how you’d like your yoga business to be perceived by your clients.
When developing your brand name, make sure that:
- It clearly explains that you are a yoga business, and what you do. Don’t confuse potential clients with names that are too unique
- It points out your unique value proposition (UVP) and specialties
- Make sure it’s short and simple, easy to remember
- Make sure it’s easy to pronounce
If you are an experienced yoga teacher and would like to use your own name as your brand, it’s definitely possible. However, in this case, you’d want to register your business with another name, a process we know as DBA (Doing Business As).
Another common approach is to use your location as your business name, like “Scottsdale Ashtanga Yoga Studio”.
Your logo should represent the same feel and values as your brand name.
Registering Your Business Entity
There are various business structure types you can register your yoga business as. In the US, the most common structure types are sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC (Limited Liability Company), and corporation.
If you are going to start the business on your own, then you can technically register the business as a sole proprietorship.
However, we’d strongly recommend registering your yoga business as an LLC or corporation. Doing so will help protect yourself in the event of legal disputes so you are not personally liable.
Again, if you are going to use your own name as your brand, consider using DBA to register your business as a legal entity using a different name. Don’t forget to also register your yoga business for applicable federal and state taxes before opening the business.
Setting Up Business Accounting
Unfortunately, we can’t neglect the administrative aspect of starting a business, no matter how boring it is.
Set up how you are going to record your accounting so you can understand how your business performs financially and assess your efficiency. Keeping complete, accurate accounting records would help in simplifying your annual tax processing and will protect your business from potential legal disputes.
Don’t forget to also open a dedicated banking and credit account for your yoga business. This will help in protecting your individual assets in the event of debts and legal disputes.
Choosing The Right Location For Your Studio
If you are planning to have your own yoga studio, then it’s very important to choose the right location with enough space. If you want to run a mobile yoga business or online classes, then you can skip this section.
Your location will literally make or break your yoga business, and you should have a pretty good idea of the ideal location for your business after completing your market research.
Nevertheless, here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing between different locations:
That is, how close the location is to your target market.
The closer you are, and the more visible the location is, the more likely you’ll attract clients and keep them coming back.
A visible location will significantly help in establishing brand awareness: people will pass your yoga studio and now know about your existence, and might be interested in booking a class.
Pretty self-explanatory, how much is the cost for renting or purchasing the price.
Obviously, locations with good proximity and visibility tend to be more expensive, so it’s important to find the right balance between the price of the property and the other factors.
Your location should be easy enough to get to, and you should have at least one of the two most important factors:
- Proximity to public transportation
- Accessible parking
Not only is an accessible location important in attracting clients, but can also help in hiring new staff, including yoga teachers.
Whether there are any competing yoga studios nearby, including gyms and health clubs.
Even if the location is good after you’ve considered the other factors, if it’s too competitive, it might not be worth it.
Another important consideration before committing to a location is your future plans.
If, for example, you are planning to expand the studio after two years in operation, or there’s another better location that will be free in the next couple of years, consider these factors into account when choosing a location.
Make sure you can get landlord authorization and legal permissions to convert the space into a yoga studio before committing to a property.
Opening a yoga studio might involve many modifications to flooring and even the layout of the property, so make sure to discuss this with the landlord first.
Establishing an Online Presence
In this digital age, it’s very important to establish a strong online presence for your yoga business.
This is even more crucial if you are going to offer online virtual yoga classes, but even for traditional yoga businesses, you should focus on strengthening your online presence in four core areas:
- Your website
- Social media profiles
- Reliable online reservation function (that is integrated into your website and social profiles)
- Google Maps presence
Let’s discuss how you should establish your online presence in each of these areas:
1. Optimal and Well-Designed Website
Your yoga business’s website is your digital storefront. People do judge the book by its cover, and potential clients will definitely check your website whether it looks professional, easy to navigate, and includes accurate information.
Nowadays, we don’t need to hire an expensive website developer or firm to get a professional-looking and functional website. There are fairly affordable services like Wix or Squarespace that let us easily build a well-designed website with a drag-and-drop visual builder.
If you want more freedom and have a little bit of programming know-how, then WordPress is also a viable choice.
In short, there’s simply no excuse not to have a professional website even if you’ve already got a strong social media presence.
Your website should be:
- Mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive, test on as many devices as possible
- Quick to load, less than 3 seconds in a standard connectivity
- Contains accurate and complete information about your services, products, and prices
- Contains valuable content (i.e. blog posts)
- Has reliable online reservation functions (more on this below)
2. Online Reservation and Booking
Especially in this post-COVID world, online reservation is now very important for yoga classes.
Many potential clients will try to book your service outside business hours, so it’s very important to provide a flexible, 24/7 online yoga scheduling solution that can be integrated into website builders like Wix or even the free WordPress where you can implement a booking plugin for WordPress.
Invest in a reliable online appointment booking software so you can make sure it’s as easy as possible for potential clients to book your service. You can direct potential clients from your social media posts and even Google Map listing to your website’s online reservation page, and let them book a class right away.
3. Social Media
Fairly obvious that nowadays, you should have a strong social media presence in order to succeed in most if not all kinds of businesses.
Instagram is an obvious choice for promoting your Yoga classes, being a visual platform, but you can also leverage YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and even less obvious choices like LinkedIn or Twitter.
Social media presence is about finding the right balance between three different options:
- Organic: building your own followers by regularly publishing your content. Will take the longest to gain significant results, but this is the most affordable option.
- Paid: using paid options offered by the social media networks (i.e. Instagram/Facebook Ads). Can guarantee quick results, but can be expensive.
- Influencer: partnering with relevant influencers that will promote your yoga classes to their followers.
Leverage the three options to build a strong social media presence for your yoga business.
4. Google Maps
There are two primary ways people learn about local businesses, including yoga studios, these days.
The first is from social media, for example when an influencer promotes a yoga class. The second, is from Google searches for queries like “yoga classes near me”.
For these queries, Google pulls results from Google Maps, so the goal is to rank as high as possible on Google Maps to ensure our Yoga business listing is available for as many searchers as possible.
To do this, we should implement Google Maps SEO or Local SEO, and while it might seem daunting at first, we can actually do this in just four key steps:
- Claiming and verifying Google Maps/Google My Business listing
- Optimizing your Google My Business Listing, focus on providing accurate and complete information for your clients.
- Building local citations by listing your yoga business on relevant online directories
- Getting more reviews from existing clients, especially on Google Maps but also on relevant review sites/platforms
By doing these four steps consistently, you’ll see your yoga business listing slowly but surely climbs the Google Maps ranking.
While starting your own yoga business can be challenging, it’s definitely going to be an exciting journey with a lot of potential for success.
We hope this guide has helped in answering the questions you may have on the topic of starting a successful yoga business. By following the tips we’ve shared above, you can start planning, setting up, and running your own yoga studio for success right away.