Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Derek Haigler, Founder of Yoga for All Humans, located in Manor, TX, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Yoga for All Humans (YFAH) is a virtual yoga studio designed for all humans. Our mission is to bring the healing power of yoga to all, regardless of financial or physical ability. Even better, you can conveniently experience the benefits of high-quality yoga from your screen! We offer live stream classes from over ten diverse teachers, and we also have an ever-growing on-demand video library.
Our customers are just what it says in the name - all humans. We truly believe that everybody is a yoga body, but not all yoga studios have done a good job of supporting the "normal" human historically. We're here to provide a space where everyone feels welcome, regardless of what body you come in or your financial situation.
Tell us about yourself
Yoga studios were forced to switch to virtual classes when the pandemic hit. This went as well as in-person offices going fully virtual. Need I say more? At first, I was sad that I wouldn't be able to go into the studio, but a silver lining quickly replaced that sadness because I was able to increase my yoga practice from 1-2 times/week to 3-4 times/week for the same price with my favorite teacher! She decided to part ways from the studio I was going to because they wanted to charge the same price for virtual classes as in-person classes. She didn't think that was fair, so she created her own (very basic) website with Zoom links for her classes - with more class offerings than normal to boot! It wasn't just the price that allowed me to increase my practice, though it was the convenience of not having to get dressed and travel for class, saving me over an hour of work interruption each day. A lot of people picked up hobbies during the pandemic. I was already gardening, and I'm not a very good baker. So, I decided to dive deeper into a practice I loved - yoga! I signed up for a fully virtual Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) from a prestigious yoga school/studio - Asheville Yoga Center - in Asheville, NC. I was living in Iowa City, IA, at the time. I would have never been able to afford the full price for the training, nor could I have taken the 2-3 weeks off from work that an in-person training typically requires. Another silver lining of the pandemic!
During YTT, my eyes were opened to the systemic problems that existed in Westernized yoga. The lack of inclusion hit me in the face unexpectedly, particularly from 3 angles - race, physical ability (ableism), and financial security. I knew that the Western image of a yoga had become a healthy, young, white female in Lulu Lemon gear, but I didn't realize how deep the issues went until studying it more deeply in training and research. From the outside in, yoga seems to be all about love and inclusion, but capitalism and colonialism have rotted it to the core. My HR problem-solving wheels started turning, and I slowly built the foundation for YFAH in my head without even realizing it. Before I knew it, I realized I wanted to switch from my professional DEI/HR career and focus those efforts on an industry I truly love that desperately needs revitalization - Yoga.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Getting the studio launched while I was wrapping up my Corporate job simultaneously. Getting your business started can be daunting and time-consuming - they don't make it easy! Now, I view every day as an accomplishment. When I'm teaching a yoga class, I sometimes think, "wow, I really did it!"
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I've found it challenging not to take it personally when you don't receive support from your network, friends, and family. When I launched the studio, I relied too heavily on people's words, expecting membership to be a non-issue with how many people told me they would take a yoga class with me. Almost a year later, the vast majority of people I know haven't even signed up for a free trial. I've learned that people are full of good intentions but not so great at follow through. Everyone has their own thing going on, so I shouldn't take it personally. It's not me; it's them... right?? I sure hope so!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't try to do it all yourself unless you know-how. Legal Zoom is a great option to help you file all your paperwork and help you make sure you've checked all the legal boxes.
- Hire a good CPA from the get-go.
- Focus on SEO and digital marketing as soon as you can
. Don't rely on word of mouth unless you have a VERY strong network that you're confident will spread the word far and wide. Social Media algorithms have made it to where business posts rarely show up on people's feeds unless you're paying to boost them.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
It may sound intimidating to start your own business, but don't be scared! I've found that many people dramatize how busy they are running their own business to either make it seem more important than they are or make themselves feel more important. If you're running a physical location that requires your constant presence, that's one thing. But if you're starting a virtual business, you can take advantage of a lot of automation to help you find balance in your life. I've even found the time to pick up a part-time job to help me fund business expansion.
Now don't get me wrong - it's a commitment. I NEVER stop thinking about the business. I also never stopped thinking about my Corporate job, so I would much rather have my mental focus be on something healthy I'm passionate about growing.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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