Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey by launching a yoga business but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Paul McQuillan, owner of BeHot Yoga Toronto, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Tell us a bit of yourself and your journey to where you are today...
We offer hot yoga and Hot Hiit Pilates; both are high exertion offerings and carry the added appeal of being accessible to beginners and experienced practitioners alike. Our clients like it hard and hot, so we continue to maintain a standard that has been set by our community throughout the years. The only exception to this "yang" approach is our Yin class which balances all the hard work out with a relaxing offering. We are celebrating our 18-yr. Anniversary this month, and we continue to cultivate an environment of inclusivity and kindness. We're proud of our friendly vibe and welcoming space.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I was a professional music theatre entertainer for 25 years, and I was on tour in the U.S. with a broadway musical entitled Hairspray. Touring was burning me out, and there just happened to be a yoga teacher in the cast. We became close friends, and he dragged me to hot yoga classes in over 40 different cities in the U.S. because he was quite well known. I fell in love with how these classes made me feel, and there was no turning back. I trained to become a teacher and have now owned BeHot Yoga for ten years after buying the business from the previous owner. Watching people transform and transcend so much adversity through a consistent practice is what inspires me each day. Yoga and Pilates may not be a panacea for healing, but they are invaluable, life-changing tools that—when combined with other healthy choices—can make an individual's human experience that much more profound. The ailments I have watched courageous folks overcome (mental, physical, and emotional) are too many to ignore. But with their work comes great reward. In the words of Paulo Coelho, "When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too."
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Without a doubt, surviving the pandemic. I was so proud of how our entire team pivoted to keep the business viable. We are beginning to reap the rewards of perseverance and faith as the studio is once again thriving (albeit with limitations and necessary restrictions), but our resiliency as a community will forever make me proud, not just as a business owner but as a humbled person who has witnessed the selfless generosity and encouragement of so many.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Learning about people and what drives them. It's the only way I can truly help, but it's not always easy. While we're all individuals with unique needs, personalities, and backgrounds, our collective humanity must take precedence. I think that the pandemic, along with many powerful social movements, exposed some major differences in how people think/feel. Working through those differences and arriving in a place of respect and love for each other as individuals has become more vital to our future than ever. We need to create space for difficult conversations and ultimately come out the other side with an understanding that is void of judgment. It's the only way that we can ultimately thrive together.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run or grow a small business today?
- You have to love it. You're going to be spending a great deal of time and energy on your business. If it's not a labour of love, it will only serve to drain you.
- Be kind. If there's one common denominator that creates the template for a strong business, it's kindness. This may not seem very strategic because it's not. Hire kind people and lead with kindness. It's a simple, winning formula.
- The only constant is change. Don't get too stuck. The world evolves, and so do the industries and professions that run it. Keep your finger on the pulse so that you can pivot and adapt when necessary.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Great. A chance to pitch my book. ; ) I wrote a book entitled "I Hate Yoga" which is available on Amazon. It's a light read with a great deal of levity, but I think it has inspired many to start a yoga practice. I'm proud of that.
Where can people find you online?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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