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Shannon Crow is an amazing yoga teacher, mom of 3 and the brains behind The Connected Yoga Teacher. She hosts a podcast (The Connected Yoga Teacher), still teaches yoga with a niche of Pelvic Health and is a consultant for yoga teachers. She has also created an incredible community on Facebook in The Connected Yoga Teacher Facebook Group.
Shannon and I offer some of the exact same offerings, one being group coaching. But instead of us viewing one another as competition, we are actually collaborating and offering group coaching together (which already has a waitlist for our second group!)! She’s become a fast friend and is proof that the fact that you can earn a full time living teaching yoga but also that collaboration in the yoga world is awesome! In this interview we talk all about money and it’s a good one to hear both our perspectives on this topic. Enjoy!
Onto the interview! (Click below to watch)
Amanda: Today we’re talking about money! For the entire month on the blog we’ve been talking about money and thinking like an entrepreneur. I’ve talked about shifting the mindset from “yoga teacher” mindset to entrepreneurial mindset of money.
I want to dig in with you, someone that’s been a yoga teacher and has worked with so many yoga teachers! I don’t necessarily have that mindset...I remember growing up and feeling uncomfortable talking about money. As soon as I was in the corporate world, everything revolved around money and we always talked about it.
Why do you think yoga teachers shy away from talking about money?
Shannon: I think there’s an element that yoga teachers really want to help and it’s around the philosophy of yoga. In the teachings of yoga there are no real talks about money and I’ve even heard people say yoga should be free.
A smart teacher once said, “yeah yoga should be free but renting the space, the props, driving there and all that stuff is the part that costs money.” I’m not sure why it exists there but I definitely know what it feels like to come out of yoga teacher training and to hesitate when I’m telling people how much it costs to work with me.
Amanda: It’s really tough. People want to teach yoga but they need to earn money. In less you have this money tree in your backyard, you have to make money somehow so why not do it with this service you love and you’re passionate about. It can be a side thing! Teaching yoga doesn’t have to be everyone’s full time career but if you’re here reading this you most likely want it to be. You have to stop thinking, “yoga should be free”. If you offer your services for free, it devalues yoga for everyone across the board!
Shannon: You don’t see dentists or massage therapists running around offering their services for free! I wonder if it’s because when we’re in yoga teacher training, all we focus on is teaching yoga. We don’t talk about running a business. I wonder how many people you’d ask before entering yoga teacher training, “are you ready to run a business?”
Amanda: I think you’re spot on with that! You know my story, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about yoga teachers until one of my friends who is a yoga teacher said “I didn’t know I was a business owner until you told me I was one”. At that point, she had been teaching for 4 years. That broke my heart! It’s why I have the business I do now. I don’t want any other yoga teacher to ever have that experience of “I didn’t know I was going to be a business owner”. I feel wholeheartedly that yoga teacher business should have so much more business into the yoga teacher training.
Shannon: I think that we often will come out of yoga teacher training, feel a resistance to marketing and selling our yoga and think we need another training on asana or alignment or a speciality. Even we take those specialty training, we still need to market. I’ve seen teachers take 600 hours of training and they still don't know how to say, “come to my class”.
It can be overwhelming. Most teachers just want to teach at a studio and have someone else do the marketing for them. In my experience, watching yoga teachers they just don’t make as much money then. Until you dig in and understand you’re running a business, my bills depend on it..then they’ll keep making less than they deserve at the studios.
Amanda: My audience is listening because they are looking to make a transition plan out of that to teach yoga full time. You have a fantastic story in terms of teaching yoga full time and feeding yourself and your family.
Shannon: For a period of time, I have 3 children who are now ages 14, 16 and 20 but when they were younger we were relying completely on my yoga teaching. I started to sublet with thai yoga massage which was running 2 businesses that worked well together. Most of my yoga students would sign up for Thai yoga massage and I would teach 2 hour workshops. Those went over really well and what I realized when I switched to “this is going to be my full time gig”, the pressure was really there. Either I figure it out or I need to switch and get a 9-5. There were a few times along the road where I thought I was going to have to do that. Hmm..maybe I need to start waiting tables. I don’t want to do that! I have a lot of skills and college...I’m so glad I stuck it out and I’m so glad I started to see the side of the yoga world of business training.
Amanda: It’s really important to shift that mindset to think like an entrepreneur/business owner. Then you can start reading business books or listening to business podcasts and your eyes are opened in a huge way. You can really start thinking outside the studio. I’ve even used the saying, which is popular in the business world but not so much the yoga world: diversify your revenue streams! I say, what if your teaching at one studio (or several) and all of a sudden they all close. You have nothing else. You have no revenue coming through! If that was feeding your family, you’re going down a real hard path. The person that responded to that comment when I said it, said she had 30 days left at her current studio.
It’s not like she had months to prepare, she had 30 days to figure out something when all her revenue was coming from one place. It’s rule number one of starting a business: you need to focus but you do need to think about multiple revenue streams coming in just in case.
If you have this stream of private students, and this other stream of quarterly workshops and maybe some studio classes then you have a few different things to balance out if something doesn’t work out. I ran a study from my own students and found that the below is how yoga teachers are earning their money:
83% said public classes
55% private clients
33% part time job not yoga related
Shannon: This is so interesting and it brings up a question from me and I’m curious to hear your answer: we’re both big on niching down and I think it can be confusing to someone to say “let’s work at niching down and let’s work at having multiple things”.
Amanda: Once you have your specific “thing” whether that’s a person or a type of yoga for your narrowed focus. Let’s say it’s childrens yoga. Then you can think, “I can have studio classes that are childrens yoga”. You can also have some private sessions with children. You can work with families as part of the yoga class. You can also have workshops for kids.
I have a client who specifically works on workshops with meditations with children. She goes to the library for a free workshop which leads to a paid offering for the moms to teach the moms how to do that at home. You can get really creative even though you’re really specific.
Shannon: This is so true. My niche is yoga public health and I’m super passionate about that (took me many years to figure it out). I work at several different places and also teach yoga teachers about public health.
Amanda: It just takes thinking outside the box! Are there any tips or tricks that you tell yoga teachers to start thinking like a business owner or entrepreneur?
Shannon: I don’t remember who said that but one time I heard someone say, “it’s like yoga teachers are holding onto a whole lot of sandwiches”. And there are starving people all around them but they don’t want to say, “I’ve got sandwiches to offer”.
That’s kind of our mindset! There are people all over the world who are stressed out who need breath and movement in their life and all we need to say is, “hey I do this thing”.
Amanda: You have such a gift as a yoga teacher that can help so many people but we hold onto those sandwiches. We’re not giving!
Shannon: Another thing I started to do (and it can sometimes rub people the wrong way). I started listening to a money podcast while I did my morning practice. It was just a little homework for myself...but if you think about it I was needing to work on my own money mindset. I wanted to give myself this morning practice and listen to this money podcast at this same time.
Amanda: I love that you did that. I wish more people did that! I can highly recommend the “You Are At A Badass at Making Money” book. I had to shift my own money mindset a bit to make sure I wasn’t blocking any money coming my way. I don’t want to go back to the corporate world! I found what I wanted to do and that’s when you have to get scrappy to figure out how to make it work!
Shannon: Here’s another thing I like to remember. When we dig in and can make money and become rich and make more money, more money as yoga teachers. Those are the people I want funding the world! Yoga teachers are so giving! They want to take care of people, take care of the planet — I want them making the money. If they can’t dig in and get comfortable with money, business and sales — they’re going to go out of business. If a yoga teacher can think that making more money will actually help more people.
Amanda: How do you encourage yoga teachers to track their money? And looking at their money often.
Shannon: This has been a work in progress for me. I used to run a Farmers Market. I was super excited about that money! I was paying attention to the money, counting the money, paying my people. When I became a yoga teacher, something didn’t shift in me. I wasn’t looking at it like it was a business. For years, I wasn’t looking at my money. I got coached a bit on this by Amanda De La Garza and her podcast. At that point I had all my accounts together. But you said it, we have so many revenue streams and I was having them all go into the same bank account. Now I have a business account and I love seeing the money go up in on that bank account and I love seeing money go out to pay people and then come back.