Ryan Ferguson has been my best friend and partner in crime for the last 7 years. We met while in business school at the University of Calgary, and since then, have traveled for over 12 months together and have moved to 3 different cities. Ryan shares my passion for travel, yoga / movement, and the written word.
If you want to learn more about Ryan, visit his personal blog here. He has some great pieces on self-development, economics, philosophy and much more.
You were a yoga teacher. You worked at a studio, taught twice a day, five days a week. You were paid per class, $45 a time. It didn’t matter if there were thirty students, twenty students, or three students, you always made the same amount. When you started out classes were always full. The yoga studio was pretty busy. Everything was good and easy, but things started to go wrong.
The owners of the studio made some bad decisions. They weren’t treating members well, and then a new studio opened in the neighbourhood. It was newer and cheaper. The sizes of your classes started to dwindle. Twenty students turned into fifteen, turned into ten. You still made $45 though, so you were happy.
One day you come to teach and notice a sign on the door. It says that the studio is closed. Permanently. The owners shut the doors and left without refunding memberships, or paying teachers. You had been an employee, but now you are out of a job.
It didn’t have to be this way. You didn’t have to be an employee. You didn’t have to be out of work and depending on another studio to try and get a new teaching gig. You could have done things differently. You could have been an entrepreneur.
What would the entrepreneurial yoga teacher do differently?
From your first day you see yourself not as an employee of a studio, but as an entrepreneur, building your own business. The studio you teach at is not your employer, it is a service provider. It gives you a physical location to teach at, and students to hopefully fill your classes. The studio provides this service for a price. The profit they make when you are teaching full classes.
To take advantage of the service the yoga studio provides, you teach at more than one studio. Instead of teaching ten times a week at one studio, you teach ten times at three studios. Teaching in multiple places is a hassle since you have to drive around, but you are less dependent on the decisions of the management of one studio and you get more exposure.
You are a business, not an employee so you see your classes not as a one-off service, but instead as an audition for future business. You want to teach at each studio enough that loyal students can come to your classes, but you also want to get in front of as many new people each week as you possibly can. By teaching new students you are networking with new potential long term customers.
Your classes are just the first step in your business. You want to teach private lessons, offer workshops, take people on retreats, and maybe even have courses online. When you teach a class you want to connect with your students, so that you can communicate with them in the future. So you mention your Facebook page and collect emails.
When you offer something, you don’t have to put up posters and hope people show up, you can communicate directly with people that know you and like you.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t focus on the service you are providing, but instead on the needs that people are coming to your classes to meet. People come to feel different in some way. They want to be calmer, happier, more serene. So you innovate. You try new things when you have new ideas to help people feel the way they want to feel. You become unique, some people don’t like it, but others love your classes.
Then, when a yoga studio you taught at goes out of business, you are slightly annoyed about the money they still owe you, but it doesn’t hurt you. You’ve got your email list of your loyal students from that studio, you teach at other studios, you have your private lessons. You are a multi faceted entrepreneur, not an employee. You not only make more money, but are more resilient and providing more value to the world.
As a yoga teacher you have a choice in how you think about your profession. You can choose to see yourself as an employee, working for a studio or you can choose to be an entrepreneur. The simple shift in perspective opens up all sorts of possibilities. You go from being passive waiting for jobs, to creating, innovating, and providing a more valuable service to the people in your community. The choice is yours, are you an employee or an entrepreneur?