I was unemployed when I started Serenity Place DC. I had very little cash to invest in opening a yoga studio. So, I paid five bucks for a guy in Eastern Europe to design a logo. I gave him another $5 to create a flyer about our Labor Day opening. I had about 300 printed on glossy paper at Staples and hand-delivered them around my neighborhood. It took hours over several days to go door-by-door placing the flyers on each porch, since I wasn’t allowed to put them in the mailboxes. But it was what needed to happen to get the word out. I think my initial outlay was about $500 including some yoga blocks and straps.
We had three people show up for the first class—all very good friends of mine. Turnout for that first month was about 50 people for the entire month of September 2014 (less than two people per day). I didn’t care about the low numbers. I was a yoga studio owner! I was fulfilling a dream that I had for almost six years.
Attendance picked up quite a bit in October. We participated in our neighborhood street festival and introduced the space and teachers to many of our neighbors. Most of them hadn’t received a flyer on their doorstep. A few had and were eager to see what the yoga studio was all about in person. Six people showed up for class the day after the festival (our best attended class yet), and we ended the month with about 100 total visitors—attendance doubled in our second month of operation. I was over the moon! We then grew to 150 for November. I knew we were onto something good.
Before opening Serenity Place DC, I spent over a year working on the business plan. It outlined where I wanted to open the studio, what kinds of teachers I was interested in hiring, how much I wanted to charge for classes and how quickly I believed we should grow. In my business plan, I outlined that we would start with one class per day, and then add more classes when our average class size grew above 10.
I made these decisions based on what I had learned in Economics 101 and an entrepreneurship course I had completed. I knew that the yoga studio needed to generate more income than it cost to operate to produce a profit. Since I paid rent based on the number of classes we offered, our primary costs were rental space and teacher salary. With one class a day, those costs were pretty manageable.
In January 2015, we had our best month yet—probably due to many New Year’s resolutions. The next month, we would move to a new location in which I had much more flexibility in scheduling classes. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to add a few classes to our schedule. Our average class attendance had increased to 4, but we were still far short of the goal of 10. By increasing the number of classes, I was increasing our costs and preventing the studio from being financially viable.
It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. (Proverbs 19:2)
I learned a really big lesson from the failure of Serenity Place DC. My passion is a powerful motivator, and has helped me be successful in so many areas of my life. But I can’t let my enthusiasm outweigh reason. The smart thing to do would have been to keep hosting one class a day until the class sizes grew. I was comfortable with the salary and rental costs we had at that point, and could have continued with them for months. Once we had higher attendance, our income would have grown. Then I could have slowly added one or two classes at a time until they also had large class sizes. But I was listening to my heart instead of my head. I added classes too quickly, and allowed our costs to spiral out of control. Eventually, I had to clean up the mess I had created and wind down operations.
As I learned from Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker, Dream BIG. Think LONG. Pray HARD.
Dreams are powerful, and should be pursued. Be sure to take time to carefully go after your dreams—seeking wisdom and discernment along the way. As I have heard more times than I care to remember, “haste makes waste.”
Crystal Moore began her wellness quest in 2003 after being diagnosed with lupus. Her quest has led her to embrace yoga, faith, exercise, healthy eating, and relationships. Share her journey.