After many years of wishful thinking, my business partner, Kristen M., and I decided to go for it. As moms, we always wanted a studio setting where we could practice yoga and pilates with high quality instruction and bring our kids with us. There were no options for us in terms of boutique studios offering yoga, pilates , and barre all under one roof with babysitting during classes. After an extensive search, we found the perfect location- a historic exposed brick building in Downtown Decatur- then we went to SCORE workshops, asked for advice and help from other small business owners we knew, and signed a lease last November. We spent the next several months on managing the build out, hiring teachers and babysitters, ordering retail items that fit our demographic, learning our software program and QuickBooks, hours and hours of marketing and spreading the word, and formulating our class schedule. It's been more work than we ever imagined, but it's also been incredibly fulfilling.
We have only been open for four months, yet we feel a degree of success. Our classes continue to grow, and our revenue stream has remained steady, even in the slow summer months. In preparation for Fall, we've added more babysitting hours and recently added six more classes to our weekly schedule. On the Summer Solstice we held a Grand Opening/ Fundraiser for Centering Youth and raised over $1,000 for at-risk youth yoga programs in Atlanta. But the real measure of success for us has been hearing and reading rave reviews from other women and mothers who thank us. We know we are doing what we set out to do, because our clients are telling us. We regularly ask for feedback. When we see children doing yoga and laughing in our studio while a parent takes a barre class- that's success. When a woman can carve out space to take a yoga or pilates class and bring her nursing baby with her, we're successful.
SCORE gave me confidence and organization as a budding entrepreneur and continues to play a role in my development as a small business owner. My counselor, Jeff D., was instrumental in helping me a) realize, YES, mine was a good idea and b) format and write my business plan. Getting it all on paper allows one to work through the necessary numbers and research as well as articulate what it is you are selling and why. You'll be pitching this idea every day moving forward, so it's crucial to streamline the pitch. It's invaluable to be able to learn from other business owners who've been there and done it. I also really enjoyed meeting other people like me (aspiring entrepreneurs) who had big ideas and dreams. Everyone is so supportive of one another and helpful. Being in a room all together can evoke pride and determination.
Jeff is a genuinely interested entrepreneurial spirit- he loves learning about others' business ventures and wants us all to succeed- even if that means giving less than thrilling news. He's really honest and realistic, just the right amount "conservative" and just the right amount "risk taker" in my opinion. It's easy to trust him, because he's had a lot of experience owning and running companies, managing people, and developing lasting client relationships all during good times and bad. Without a doubt, the most important thing he taught me was to trust my gut. He helped confirm that I have a knack for this "business owner" thing and I should trust myself. I know my customer and I know my business better than anyone else.