On the last community episode of my podcast, Pilates Unfiltered, I shared the most meaningful mistakes I made as a studio owner. You can listen to the full episode HERE. I’ve been receiving such great feedback from studio owners that I chose to turn this subject into a blog post. In this week’s post, I’ve simplified these “learning opportunities” into: 1. The Mistake, 2. What I Would Have Done Differently 3. The Lesson. Again, to hear more listen to Episode 90 of the podcast.
1. mistake: letting the method we taught be the focus of the business
This is a common one for many passionate teachers. We think that because we love the work so much that we can convince other people to love it by educating them about all of the aspects of the tradition that we teach; the history, the philosophy, the competition – all of it. I carried such a flag for Fletcher Pilates (and in my own practice, still do) that I thought I could get everyone on board and give them flags too!
what I would have done differently:
Looking back, I wish I had spent more time focusing on the experience of our client through the lens of their life. Rather than my first thought being: “How Will The Pilates Method Enhance Their Life?” I wish I had spent a bit more time thinking about what their life was like without Pilates. What was working for them? What did they love to do? Where did they spend their time? What were they struggling with? How were they living without Pilates? I feel that if I had shifted my energy from launching a 13yr campaign to get everyone on board with the Pilates Method, I could have focused that energy on creating more access points for people to find our services because we had tapped into something that was relevant for them. I ran myself in circles trying to convince people why they needed Pilates vs how I was willing to work with their life’s needs. Of course, some of this happened as a natural progression of our relationships, but I believe that it could have been much more focused and personalized had I switched my focus. AND I believe that flags for Pilates would have been flown regardless..
Placing the focus on how the service you offer meets the experience your clients are having brings the work from trend to necessity. I believe that when you can directly affect the condition of someone’s life through the work that you teach, you will always become more valuable to them. Experience has taught me that my clients care less about what my certificate says and more about how I work with them in a session. If I were to own a studio again, I would focus solely on the experience of the people I believe would be best served by my particular brand of teaching to be targeted with my messaging and consistent in building community.
2.mistake: spending too much time trying to include all of the trends in our offerings
We were a proper pilates studio. We had the equipment, toys, and training to go with it. One of our best offerings was equipment classes. We dominated in this realm, offering challenging, dynamic Pilates session for groups of four that were almost always full. However, we also had all of the mat classes, barre, calisthenics, zumba, “ballates” and whatever else we thought
what I would have done differently:
As a studio owner, I wish I had spent more time creating dialogue surrounding our strongest offerings rather than spreading myself too thin by trying to offer everything. I believe that consistent and diverse messaging about one thing vs many can be the catalyst for creating interest.
Honor your gifts and give them time to develop. Allow yourself to become immersed in the language surrounding your strongest offerings and be sure that your staff is using similar language so that messaging is consistent.
3.the mistake: seeking out too much input from staff about my business.
I believe it’s important to include your staff in communications surrounding changes that will directly affect them, however, often, I leaned too much on my staff for support during times of financial uncertainty, interpersonal conflicts or shifts within the business structure.
what i would’ve done differently:
I know now that a good leader leads from their heart as well as their head, but also understand that I should have sought out support from professionals outside of my business rather than muddy-ing the waters between teaching and business decisions. Today, I have a support system of professionals that handle elements of my operations and am also part of a group coaching program for rockstar entrepreneurs that offers me weekly support.
Your business is not a democracy. Communication and transparency are important, however, leave the processing to happen those who don’t have skin in the game so you can have an unbiased opinion about your next steps.
4. the mistake: chasing the shiny object of owning a big studio
This one is so vulnerable and so important. I expanded my studio because I thought that’s what a “real” business owner/studio owner/Pilates teacher would do. The business was successful, however, the stress that it brought into my life was more than I was prepared to manage.
what I would’ve done differently:
My accountant once told me that a smaller restaurant that had a wait would always be more successful than a larger restaurant that had availability. Even though I learned so much in owning a large studio, if I had to do it again, I would have resisted the expansion, stayed small and comfortable and maybe taken a bigger paycheck.. who knows?
Always check into your motivating factors. Is this desire coming from your ego’s need to be seen as “enough?” or is it a truly tactical move that is fully supported?
There it is, friends! Surely there have been other mistakes, but these definitely stand out as the most meaningful at this time. I should also note that I share from the wounds that have been healed over – that are scarred. I’ve done my personal work surrounding these elements and am able to share with you because of this. You by no means have to share your mistakes if they haven’t been reconciled. I hope this post lets you know that even the most “successful” of pros have a bumpy road to navigate.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the above. Comment below!