Sara Cain-da Costa sits in a seated meditation with her hands pressed to her forehead.

Confessions of a Recovering Studio Owner, Part II: The Pivot to Collaboration

Welcome back to part two of Confessions of a Recovering Studio Owner. In part one, Sara discussed how to make an informed decision about whether or not to close her studio and shared some tips for owners facing the same struggles. Today in part two, she goes into how she managed to pivot to sustain her business despite not having a physical studio. Sara chose a collaborative approach to ensure her instructors, her clients, and herself would have lots of options.

Part II: The Pivot to Collaboration

By Sara Cain-da Costa, E-RYT500
Founder, Synergy Yoga and Wellness

My yoga clients mean the world to me. I’ve been teaching now for two decades, and some of my very original clients have stayed by my side this entire time; lifetime friendships have formed.  Therefore, once it became clear I needed to close the business, I couldn’t just close Synergy’s doors without taking care of our community to the best of my ability. I couldn’t just walk away — especially during the pandemic, when we all know everybody can benefit from yoga and meditation more than ever. This is where a pivot towards collaboration became my driving force to maintain the Synergy community.

Sara Cain-da Costa sits in a seated meditation with her hands pressed to her forehead.

In thinking how to best maintain Synergy, I turned to other people who could help me. I’ve always been a collaborator by nature. I love working in teams because so many innovative ideas arise. It’s better for business, and it benefits the people receiving the services. In the yoga industry though, and in businesses in general, it seems like many business owners and solo-entrepreneurs are stuck in a competitive mindset, where competition means progress.  Well, I don’t think competition always means progress. I’ve often thought collaborating creatively with businesses whose values are similar to mine would create a positive yoga environment for all.  After all, many yoga entrepreneurs are in it to share the yoga love on a broader scale. The practice of collaboration even aligns with many of the teachings of yoga.  

In considering what was important to me to maintain for the Synergy community and for myself, here’s what I did:

  1. I collaborated with YogaVibes and another local studio to take on our virtual live classes.  This gave both my instructors and my clients choices about where to teach and practice. I decided not to keep Synergy hosting virtually because collaboration benefits us all!
  2. I negotiated special pricing for our clients and a commission back to Synergy when clients signed up for classes.
  3. I gained a new broader hosting home for my Yoga Teacher Training School and other workshops by choosing to work with two types of partners: one completely virtual with a global audience and one with a physical space with strong ties to the local community. 

Five people grip each other's wrists in a star formation.

Here are some things you might like to consider when deciding who to collaborate with and how to do it:

  1. Figure out your ideal client profile and collaborate with other businesses or communities that serve your client.
  2. Interact with your clients regularly through social media or email newsletters. Show up where they are willing to meet you.
  3. Reach out to other yoga and wellness studio owners. Chances are, they’ll want to brainstorm with you. We’re all going through the same thing right now.
  4. Collaborate with like-minded businesses and solo entrepreneurs to promote your services in an Affiliate program.  Clients use a special code for purchases and you give the business a commission for sharing on their social media, newsletters, etc.  For example, your studio collaborates with XYZ Massage Center.  Your studio gives a special discount code for the massage center’s clients to use when making a purchase at your studio. You track the referrals coming from the massage center, and they get a negotiated commission.  In exchange the massage center markets your services on their social media, newsletters, etc.
  5. Find or create a private Facebook group that fits your client profile and offer live events, resources, products, and more. A good yoga example would be creating a 7-minute morning yoga video for everyone in the group to watch. (This idea could fill a whole blog post in itself — if you want more info, let’s connect!) 
  6. Think outside the box.  Get innovative. Our business model of the yoga studio may not be the way of the future.  I highly recommend reading Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne for inspiration.

A great freedom of being an entrepreneur is the ability to get creative and take risks trying new things with other people. Collaboration is a survival mechanism of the strong.  It instigates ideas and fast-forward movements. What’s the worst thing that can happen if your idea doesn’t work? Nothing. You just learn through the process. That’s all a part of the joy of the journey.  

Deep inhale, long exhale.  You’re stronger and braver than you think you are.  Watch for the next blog where I talk about grief and loss. Pivoting your business means that there will be loss and change.  This is a normal part of life. Let’s look at how to honor this space, the stages, and how to connect to your own practice to heal well. Find the pause between one thing to the next.

If you’re on a similar journey and need help I’m here to support you. Reach out to me via email: [email protected]

Check out Synergy Yoga’s virtual home livestreaming on Yogavibes

advice for studio owners, advice for yoga teachers, collaboration, sara cain-da costa

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