After 14 years of developing her work as a yoga instructor in Norwich, 7 years part-time and 7 years fulltime, Lou discusses the behind the scenes of her work creating Yoga Happy……..

As a yoga teacher running your own business what have you found the most challenging and why?

  • When you were first setting up –

I found lack of self-esteem and feeling like a fraud were the most challenging.  Having to try lots of different venues was also tough.  I discovered that putting up posters was a waste of time.  Gaining new clients because of word of mouth and developing trust have been my biggest success and best marketing tool.  

It was very tricky juggling multiple jobs whilst building my practice.  I was also challenged by my own storyline and beliefs – that it wasn’t possible to be fulltime in this work.  

  • Whilst continuing to manage –

Learning how to manage my own energy, knowing what is sustainable and how much I can do has been a big process.  During my last training whilst working full time, there were moments when I felt I could have burned out if I carried on working at that level of intensity.

Understanding my capacity has been essential to managing my business.  Recognising my energy levels, what I am good at, what is important to focus on and effectively managing workloads.  

What we find stressful can seem like simple tasks to others.  It is important to know what we are naturally good at and accept the things that we are not so good at.

What resource that you use do you find the most beneficial?

One hour per month I outsource tasks that for me are tedious, such as sending emails with class info.  This allows me to have more time for what I really like focusing on – getting immersed in the creative side of my work and thinking about themes.

Regular fortnightly therapies for myself have become an essential resource and nurturing my friendships is important to me.

Is there an area of your business model that you have considered needing help with / haven’t asked for help / don’t want to ask / don’t know where to ask?

Yes, I think it has been more about not knowing who to approach.  There are areas I have considered wanting support, someone trusted and local would be great, but I have not been sure who to ask.  

It’d be good to have someone on hand to show me a more effective way to manage Zoom and Vimeo for online courses.  

Someone to advise about new regulations.  Tech policies can make me freak out and feel panicky, so someone to offer reassurance and expertise in this area would be fab.  

Help with all the little tasks, like a laptop issue for instance, would be really great as well.

What have you focused on the most in the last 14 years?

On my training.  I have wanted to gain more and more expertise.  Looking back at the early years, alongside the passion and interest in what I was learning, the common feeling of ‘not being enough’ or being an ‘imposter’ drove this a little.   However, now it is all about the love of learning and discovering more.  I have wanted to specialise and to stand out.  I constantly think about what’s next and how to be visionary within my work.  I want to continue to find the deeper layers.

What have you focused on the least?  And why?

Systems! I haven’t regularly looked at ways I can make things easier for myself, like using Mailchimp – I used a word doc for my mailing list for ages!  I often stick to what I know, rather than trying to find a better way, as it feels more comfortable.  

Certain tasks are worth looking at though in terms of time vs money and value vs benefit/enjoyment.  For example, would paying someone else to do some of these tasks save me time which I could then invest in an area of my business I enjoy more?  

In regard to the behind the scenes admin, what would you like to learn about?

I have been doing my accounting the same way for 14 years and I haven’t questioned the process, because it works.  However, I am sure it could be improved, so to learn about how I can review this to make it better and more efficient would be good.

What would your business most benefit from?

I think more peer support could prove helpful.  I like the idea of experienced, well-respected practitioners recommending and supporting each other.

Are you part of a support network?

I do ask questions on post training forums.  I find it is a safe space to connect and share with similar minded / focused people.  I have zoom calls with specific groups addressing common issues.  I use Facebook and I am regularly in touch with yoga teacher friends.

Do you have a tip / any advice you are happy to share?

Don’t discount – add more value.

Realising the Yoga Happy Vision –

My last training was very ‘masculine’ in its approach, in that it focused on income, figures and structure. Now I am enjoying balancing this with a much more ‘feminine’ approach.  This includes appreciating myself as a cyclical being with energy that ebbs and flows, and enjoying the organic journey, more than a set outcome.  It is also knowing that to evolve, for me, requires improved self-care, lots of rest, and more time in my spiritual practice.

In the last year or so I have realised how I want my client base to be size wise and the extent of which I want to grow my market.  It is nice to be established and to have people know and respect you for what you do.  In 10 years’ time my ideal is that people come to me – in my hut in the woods!

– Lou Kitchener from Yoga Happy


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