How to Start a Yoga Studio: Business 101

You’re 199 hours into your 200-hour yoga certification. Life could not be going any better. You’re immersed in doing what you love and life has become an endless cycle of sun salutations all while reading Harvard Business Reviews ideas on operating lean…wait, what? “I’m getting certified to teach yoga, I’m not here for an MBA”! So how do you take this amazing certification and an entrepreneurs drive and turn it all into a yoga studio?


This is the question I get asked over and over again. When you’ve studied as intensely as I have for a certification, you want to put this knowledge to amazing uses. Certification programs will you give you incredible technical knowledge. You know how to move the body; you could write an anatomy and physiology textbook; you’ve practiced the mindfulness aspects of yoga in ways you could have never dreamed. But, they left out how you were going to make a living doing this. Especially if that living is a studio you are going to birth.


The good news is there are simple steps to start from. When I’m looking at opening a new location there are three starting points I always begin with.


  1. Research, research, research your location. When I open a facility I start by looking for key demographic indicators that this is a good location for me. For our business, the existence of a Target or Wal-Mart, a great grocery store, strong schools and town of fifteen thousand or less indicate success. Now I can trust that Target knows what they are doing. They have teams of people researching their demographics to decide where to place a store. And, there are budgets are far bigger than mine {wink}. For a yoga studio, I would be looking for businesses that are already thriving within the natural or mind-body disciplines. Does your community support a chiropractor, a natural foods store, a Pilates studio? If so, the time may be ripe for an addition. Before you commit to a town, I always draw a sixty mile radius and look at other communities that are similar. Be sure to ask yourself if this is the best fit. You’re building a business, not just a passion and you want to start off smart even if that means a twenty minute drive.


  1. Set your Base Operating Expenses. Base Operating Expenses are those pesky expenses that are going to come every month…think rent, utilities, insurance, continuing education and payroll. Before I ever open a facility I lay out what I can afford in my BOE and still break even quickly. The fastest route to profit is through your malleable expenses. These are expenses you can negotiate and none is more important than your rent. I’ll assume you’re working with a qualified commercial realtor. While they will be working for your best interest, it’s not enough to rely on their feedback. Now is the time to climb on Loopnet and see what’s available, to call other businesses and learn what’s typical for rental rates in your market and to investigate what your business can truly support. Once you have these expenses in place you’ll know if your location and business plan can work!


  1. Team Who? Yes, m’dear you are going to need a team and it may not be the team you’re expecting. The fact of the matter is when most yoga studios start out, their owners provide most of the classes {and sales, phone answering, email returning}. This keeps the front of the studio flowing. Your most important team however is your back office. These are the people who take the weight off of you so you can actually create revenue, change lives and build a sustainable business.  So who are they? Your accountant and/or bookkeeper is there to keep your financials on track. This is a business and you want it profitable as quickly as possible. By researching and knowing the numbers that can happen.  Your housekeeper is there to provide a welcoming environment and free you create more of your business. For many studios their housekeeper is a client or new instructor. I understand it’s tempting to save this money. But how much are you losing when you clean toilets instead of building clients?  Finally, your attorney is a necessity. Unless you have a lawsuit your attorney’s work will be minimal, but lease reviews and employee contracts may require his or her input.   I always like to set project fees rather than hourly rates on these issues. It lets me know my budget from day one and that’s a lot easier on everyone. Be sure to build your back office. Your time is going to be focused elsewhere and I want to be sure you can give 100%!


I can’t wait to see what you do to turn your passion into reality! Email us at and share your story, connect with us on Instagram and Facebook and sign up for the Kismet Club where we share our biggest and best ideas!

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