What is it Like to Own a Small Business?
I get this question a lot.
To be honest, it is the most soul-flourishing thing I could imagine, outside of being a mom. And fur mom. So, ranking about 3rd in my life. My company is part of who I am because I built it with everything I’ve got. Every structure in place is a result of an idea I come across, whether it be my own or in collaboration with others. Countless sushi dates have been spent coming up with how to make Edge a little better than it was the day before.
Most people are surprised by how many hours I work. While it is true that I only show up to provide services a couple of hours daily, that is only one hat of many hats. Many, many hours are spent researching for yoga training lessons, scheduling new-student orientation Zooms, and answering the many questions of those thinking about taking the training.
Marketing accounts for a good chunk of time and resources. I personally believe in organic reach, so that means connecting with folks so they can get to know me, and by extension, my offerings. Some companies set aside large marketing budgets for Google Ads and the like, which is why you see redundant ads in your newsfeed.
I would say the hardest part of owning my own business is that the buck stops here. When making decisions about my company, I am oftentimes making decisions that will impact many lives. Since my mission in life is to offer yoga to as many humans as possible, it can be a huge responsibility when the time for change is called for. Not everyone likes change, and by design, the business of yoga is not the same as yoga. I do my best to close the margin between these two ideas, and sometimes it can be hard to find yoga in all things. It requires much practice daily to form habits that align with yogic teachings. The yoga industry, as a whole, does this better than most.
There are a few heartbreaks surrounding small business culture these days. We have big business conglomerates that were built on the backs of small business owners, and yoga is no exception. It is important to consider where your dollar is being spent. I have been involved in the fitness industry since I was fourteen years old. In that time, many products have been released that were going to “end group fitness” and many of those can be found for free pickup to haul away. Some notable equipment would include the step-stepper, kettlebells, treadmill, stationary bike, and now…the Mirror. The truth is that while these units are great enhancements to fitness regimens, none of them take the place of human interaction. Nothing feels much better than walking into a yoga class and seeing your instructor smile at you. Looking around and seeing familiar faces in the room, and know you are part of a tribe. Kicking off your shoes and taking your mat. Closing your eyes as you invite your knees to your chest. That is why group fitness will never end.
In the meantime, I invite you to consider refraining from supporting companies that are shifting their business model at the expense of the Local Instructors. Peloton has a beautiful, high production yoga app. You don’t even need to buy the bike to access it. Lululemon once was the local yoga instructor’s biggest cheerleader, and since has acquired "Mirror" and is offering virtual yoga classes independently. The latter will be why I personally do not return to their store. At a time when studios need their support the most, they become a competitor of Peloton.
It's worth mentioning that I don’t see fellow studios as competitors. They have their jam, and I have mine. Edge has been featured numerous times as studio of the month at Lulu. They have great pants. But who we support now will be who is still there on the other side of things. For this reason, Edge will be looking to support local trunk shows (and the like) for yoga threads. If you offer yoga clothes and accessories, connect with me so our co-op can support you!
By design, Edge does not operate as a conventional yoga studio. We are a co-op that opens our doors to local instructors. My personal passion is yoga teacher training. Part of that is helping Yoga Instructors develop their career and business model. If you are looking for a place to call your own, let's book a virtual-curbside sushi date! The possibilities are endless.
Your group instructor loves you, so be sure to jump on their YouTube channel next time you want some yoga. You’ll make their day by doing so. Support your local studio, because few make you feel the way they do when you walk through those embracing studio doors.
Michelle Rae Sobi, RYS Owner, Yogi, Mentor