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Just Because You Own It Doesn’t Mean You’re Good

When I opened my yoga studio I didn’t really know what I was thinking. I had sold all of my things and booked a one way ticket to India before I got cold feet and moved back to San Diego to open Hale Holistic.

The day before I opened the studio I sat out on the patio and felt a sick panic through every part of me.

It never went away.

I was telling Alexis the other day how fucking dumb I was about some things.

I paid my teachers in cash because I wanted them to be happy. But whoops, I couldn’t deduct it as an expense.

I charged $10 for a drop-in and $100 for a 10-class pack, not incentivizing anyone to spend more money on a larger quantity of classes.

I didn’t do monthly autopay because I thought people would be reluctant to let me store their cc info. So I had them swipe their card every month around the time they needed to renew which meant the beginning of class was sometimes bottle-necked by people swiping their credit cards (because that gd swiper never worked!)

I didn’t run a campaign before opening or have a grand opening party because I didn’t want to bring a lot of attention to myself. I had no social media prior to the first class. My way of getting the word around was walking through East Village handing out flyers for a new studio about 5 days before we opened. And I barely handed any out because I did’t like talking to people or selling myself.

My thinking the whole time was that I was going to make a really awesome place and people would just show up.

Well they did, eventually. But not before I almost had to close the studio, several times.

I had to stomach no-shows for about the first week before people started to trickle in. The ones that found it always found it at random while eating breakfast downstairs at The Mission. It was kind of like a second-story mystery and only people with curiosity took the flight of stairs to see what it was all about.

Yoga, kickboxing, and green smoothies. The first hybrid studio in San Diego. And the first yoga studio to offer free green smoothies shots after every class anywhere. I was proud of that. Probably cared more about it than actually making money at first.

I had a $30,000 investment from the help of my parents and my grandmother who had just passed away. To me, a guy who was living a reclusive monk life with no car or belongings, that seemed like enough money to last an eternity.

Actually, it was only enough money to last me three months.

By then we had a small following and a small family. The teachers were unique and the members were different than other studios. Word got out that this is where you went to practice if you didn’t want to deal with all the pretentious bullshit of other studios. And it was very inexpensive :)

With the help of a few more investments from gracious members I was able to start getting my shit together. I realized I wasn’t going to be successful if I kept up with this I don’t give a shit as long as this place is cool attitude. I studied other successful business models, started making my own unique marketing materials, got an organized assistant, and developed relationships with other businesses in the area. Eventually, we started killing it on social media because we were the only yoga studio not posting generic peaceful crap every day. Instead, we focused on our members and using humor and emotion as our main messaging because I determined they were the most honest things we could all agree on.

Hale Holistic: Yoga Studio, San Diego California from Hale Production Studios on Vimeo.

(All of our videos were made with our members and teachers as the actors)

I hated the customer service aspect. Emails about parking and whether or not we have a towel service. First-time students complaining about a homeless person peeing on the side of our building during savasana. It wasn’t the fun part of the business. I just wanted to build community and make funny marketing pieces.

Eventually I sold. I didn’t make any money in the 5 years I owned Hale. In fact, I lost quite a bit. But it was cheaper than an MBA and as my dad recently told me in a heartfelt email – Hale was what launched me into the person I am today.

I know what I’m good at. And I also know what I’m not good at. My second business, also named Hale [Productions], has been profitable in each of the first nine months it has been open. I am not making the same mistakes. I have brought in all the right people. And my ego didn’t even get a chance to get involved this time around.

I work with a lot of business owners whether it be consulting or production. And I can tell immediately if a business is going to make it or not by whether or not the owner thinks they are the best at every individual component of the business. If they want to run social media, and be a teacher, and balance the books, and run marketing campaigns, and build websites, and sit on external boards, and write copy, and develop future business, and take meetings, and write proposals, and hire new staff, and so on – then they are toast.

Often times this is a necessity when just starting, and that’s fine. It’s the thinking that no one else can do it better than you that’s toxic. As a business owner it’s hard to let go of the ego when you watch someone else do something differently than you would. And the thoughts in your mind that tell you they aren’t doing it as well. When in reality, if you just back off and let them work within the parameters you have outlined, what is produced is often well beyond what you originally thought possible. And the fact that it’s different becomes an incredible asset.

At old Hale I thought I had to do everything. And my work load piled out the door. I wasn’t successful. I got my ass kicked. At new Hale I don’t want to do anything except oversee our small team’s Trello board and make sure we have a plan moving forward.

To grow means to have help. To scale means to train. And training means you have to get over yourself and show people what you want and then get out of the way and let them do it.

Spread the word!

    One Comment

    1. July 11, 2017

      Excellent analysis, Kirk. Submit to a business mag for publishing.

      Reply
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