I am a member of a group for Yoga Professionals (besides my own group, which you can find here), and one of the most common questions I see people asking is: Can you recommend a certain product?
Sometimes the product is technology, such as computers, websites, or software. Other times it is audio visual, such as lighting, microphones, and speakers. Often the product is related to marketing, such as advertising or coaching. Regardless of what the product is, dozens of people offer dozens of solutions at all different price points. But how do you decide what will work for your business and how much should you spend?
Before you make any decisions about the product or service itself, consider your unique financial situation. Yes, you do need to spend money to make money, but you also need to be smart about it. Digging into your living expenses is not a smart business practice. If you have a loan, or low-interest credit card, or a savings account just for these types of expenses, then and only then should you consider splurging on something you need for your business. If, however, spending the money will cause your health to suffer, rethink the expensive option. There's likely a cheaper way to get it done until you start to earn some capital.
Now, let's talk about the products and services that every yoga entrepreneur needs and determine which is investment-worthy.
1. Yoga Mat - Splurge
You are practicing or teaching yoga every day so you need a reliable, safe mat. Splurging on a Lululemon mat was one of the best investments I made for my yoga practice and now I recommend all my students to do the same. It revolutionizes your practice. You owe it to yourself to use a quality yoga mat.
When to Save: You don't, however, need one in every color. Purchase one good mat for your regular practice, and maybe an extra cheaper mat for practice outside or for travel.
2. Laptop - Splurge
If you are teaching online classes, you need the appropriate technology. Sure, you can use your phone, but your options are more limited with your phone, which requires additional (i.e. expensive) accessories to make everything work. Buy the right computer and your investment will last you 5-6 years!
When to Save: Mac vs. PC is basically personal preference. Back in the day, an Apple computer was considered the best money could buy, but you were usually using it for something specific, and hanging on to it for 10+ years. That's no longer the case. Now, you can get a really good PC for about half the price of a Mac, and it will do twice as much. If you are on a budget, this is a "want vs. need" decision. Choose wisely. (Side note: Chromebook is different than Windows. It can do a lot, but not nearly as much as a PC. A Chromebook is a budget computer, and you are splurging here. For my recommendations, check out my blog post, "The 4 Best Business Tools for Entrepreneurs.")
3. A/V Equipment - Save
Here in the time of online classes, yoga teachers are quickly becoming IT people, and we're not always that good at it. Sometimes, you have to try a few different combinations of accessories to find what works for you. Therefore, never go in with the most expensive options right from the get-go. In fact, you probably don't need to spend more than $50 on any item from this category when you start teaching. You can find items for under $30 from Amazon and Walmart that work really well. And both companies offer return policies, so if it doesn't work for you, you can send it back.
Someone recently asked about lighting. Yoga teachers recommended ring lights, and professional photography equipment. Meanwhile, I found that two lamps at opposite ends of the room, each equipped with a "Daylight" 100 watt LED bulb light up my room like a sunny day in June. And the light bulbs only cost me $8 from Home Depot. Sometimes we make things so difficult. They don't need to be.
When to Splurge: If you have a high end operation, with hundreds of students and a large studio space, you might need to spend a little more. It would be better to spend for the service of having an expert come to you, figure out what you need, buy it, set it up, and send you the bill, then to use up your precious time trying to figure it out on your own.
4. Website - Save
Did you know that you can hire someone to build your website for $400 (on the low end) or $100,000+? Who needs a $100,000 website? Maybe a university, or a multi-million dollar business, but you, dear yoga professional, do not need a pricey website. Perhaps it is worth your time to hire someone else to do it for you. If you charge your clients $100/hour and it takes you 40 hours to build your website, then your website winded up costing you $4,000. In that case, it would have been extremely beneficial to hire someone to do it for $1500. But if all these numbers made you wince, you are better off doing it yourself.
Here's why: your website is just not that important. There, I said it. Yes, you need to have a website if you are building a business. It's a great place to capture leads, book appointments, and receive payments, but a great website in and of itself does not earn you money. You have to get people to go to your website, and you have to offer a product or service that they want to purchase from your website. That's the real money-making part of your business. The website is just the cover page.
As a yoga instructor who is looking to grow, I recommend Wix. It has all the options I needed to build my virtual yoga studio for one price. I have a booking calendar, I can sell tickets and memberships, I can host videos (in my members-only area, or for the public), I can create workflows and sales funnels and emails and social media posts. There's really not a lot I can't do. And my website costs me about $250/year, with my Go Daddy domain coming in at $12. Keep it simple.
When to Splurge: As mentioned above, splurge if you don't have the time to build your own website. Splurge when you are bringing in more money than you know what to do with. But if you are just starting out or just trying to earn a living, you don't need Click Funnels or Kajabi websites for $250+/month, when Wix does the same thing for $250/year.
5. Marketing - Splurge
Every business needs a marketing budget. If you don't have one, you will not grow. End. Of. Story. How much you spend is directly reflected in how much you make. For example, boosting a Facebook post for $5 is not going to make you a millionaire. But spending $100,000 on a social media advertising campaign probably will. Nevertheless, you wouldn't set up a marketing campaign of that size on your own if you had that kind of money to spend. You would ask for help to get the most bang for your buck. So here's my recommendation: splurge on the marketing help, and only splurge on the advertising when you have a strategy in place.
Sure, you could throw $500 at the Facebook wall and hope something sticks. But it would be wiser to hire an expert for $300 to help you develop that campaign, and spend $200 on the campaign to target it to your ideal client. You may not get a sale either way, but at least in the second option you will be gaining knowledge of how to repeat the process in the future for maximum success (and you'll probably get a decent number of warm leads in the process!)
When to Save: While social media advertising seems so simple, it's quite complex and those $5 boosts add up fast if you're not sure what you are doing. I recommend waiting to do paid advertising until you have an organic-growth strategy that you is working for you. Your best customers will come from personal relationships anyway, so it is better to learn HOW to build those relationships than to accumulate a lot of social media followers who don't buy things from the internet. Splurge on the marketing help, and you won't need to splurge on paid advertising.
Remember, what you splurge on and what you save on will look different for you than for someone else. We all have different needs and circumstances. For some, a splurge will be a couple hundred dollars and for others, it will be a couple thousand. Try not to compare your business to what other people are doing. Comparison is the thief of all joy. You are doing great! You are building a business and you are learning as you go. Be proud of yourself. I'm proud of you.