We’re up to the summary of Chapter 7 in my soon to be released self-published book, “Stretched: Build Your Business, Grow Your Teaching Techniques.” This chapter is called “Making the Switch from Corporate Work to Teaching Yoga.” It could also be called, “Making the Switch from Any Kind of Full Time Job to Teaching Yoga Full Time” because that issue is really the heart of the matter. The challenge is how to make the shift from a “40 hour per week, health benefits included, taxes withheld” kind of job to one where the hours vary, where there are (usually) no health benefits and (hardly ever) is money withheld for taxes- all without putting your financial health at risk.
Let me share that from my own experience, I’ve done this twice. I did it in 2003, when I left my corporate career ( at that point, about 16 years of working in the healthcare industry) to teach at the Baptiste studios and I did it again in 2010, when, after returning to corporate work in 2006 and continuing to teach part time from 2006 until 2010, I got laid off from a corporate position and decided to build my own business, Bare Bones Yoga. I can say the difference for me between the first time I left corporate work and the second was that I knew a great deal more about the revenue/earning aspect of the business and could make better choices about jobs to pursue, negotiating with clients and building a varied portfolio of teaching opportunities all with different pricing. I also started to create products that did not require me to teach in order to earn money: my DVD, some writing opportunities and now, the book. Please keep in mind that I created these products more out of the desire to share the information but also with an understanding that having passive revenue through products is a good way to create a back end steady income stream in addition to income earned through teaching.
This chapter will start with some evaluation questions to get you thinking about your personality and “work type” so you can make an honest decision about the your suitability for independent, entrepreneurial work. Perfect example: are you a self-starter? Are you able to work without the structure of someone giving you tasks each day? Are you able to stay motivated to work towards a goal? Do you prefer the structure of a company where you go and spend time around people all day? Teaching yoga can be an isolating experience. Yes, there are a great number of teachers but everyone is always teaching! You rarely see your colleagues except when you pass them between classes. Finding a mentor (you can see regularly- not the teacher you train with that you see once or twice a year) or a business mentor that you can turn to for brainstorming support can be difficult. You will need the support of someone with business knowledge as well as someone with industry knowledge to help you build a successful business.
Once you have run through an honest evaluation, if you still feel that teaching full time as your primary source of income is your desire, I give you a strategy and a plan of action with specific steps you can take. The overall idea is to do this in a planned and calculated way, not in a spontaneous, from the heart, romanticized way. You can do it that way, but chances are, it will leave you exhausted and disillusioned and worse, in a great deal of debt. If you follow the steps I suggest, you’ll set yourself up for a good shot at minimizing the financial risk. Let me also say that I wrote this from the point of view of a teacher that has no other source of income. If you do, through a spouse or someone else and better yet, if you’re covered on someone else’s health insurance, that will be a big help. You still may want or need your business to work on it’s own but having that as a safety net is great. Also, don’t rule out teaching part time. Many teachers maintain a part time job with benefits as a way to mitigate the challenge of taking on yoga full time from a financial perspective. This can be a viable option for you and the best of both worlds.
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