Building a Business with Love
In my twenties, I fell in love with yoga. Almost ten years later, I’m certain that it’s a love everlasting. This practice has kept me strong physically and mentally, while expanding my knowledge of the portal to the divine.
Living in Los Angeles is a blessing for my passion, as it’s considered a Mecca for yoga. Here, the yoga scene (and it is a scene), attracts the biggest teachers, creates awesome events, and makes the practice so commonplace that it’s almost ubiquitous. It’s amazing and there’s no where else like this!
Just a year or so after I started practicing yoga, I completed my yoga teacher training so I could learn more about this spiritual practice. I did this training to satisfy my deep curiosity more than anything else. At the beginning of my training, I never would have expected to end up moving to LA and teaching yoga there, nor did I ever expect to eventually open my own yoga studio, lead my own teacher trainings or host international yoga retreats.
When I look back at it, I realize that the foundation for my business was grounded in love. Everything else that came about from simply following my passion was a continuous and pleasant surprise.
I still consider myself a new business owner, trying new things and learning new things every day. But I can offer these tips to anyone with a deep curiosity to follow their passion and use it to build a business of their dreams.
1. Keep your dreams close to your heart; let actions be the proof of your progress.
Oftentimes when you’re doing something “out of the box,” like considering entrepreneurship, you’ll be met with the outside world stomping down on your dreams and telling you to be more “practical.” For this reason, it can be helpful to only share your ideas with like-minded and supportive people, or even just keep them to yourself in the beginning. Allow the time you spend dreaming and planning your business to be precious and personal. When you start to take concrete actions, the rest of the world will see what you’re doing, and you will have skipped that whole step of having to defend yourself relentlessly about what you know deep down is true.
2. Act as if what you want is happening, and plan accordingly.
Years before I found the perfect location for my yoga studio, I had already had registered a business name, saved a website URL, developed a logo, written almost all website content, planned class schedules, and created a budget. I knew that finding a location would actually be one of the last pieces I needed to open my studio, so I did all the other work ahead of time so I wouldn’t be freaking out about it while doing all the other things necessary to open a brick and mortar business, like working with contractors, buying furniture and equipment, and building out a space. Do all the work you can to prepare in advance for the business you desire to create.
3. Talk to people who have done what you want to do.
As I was getting closer to opening the studio, I met with other studio owners that I knew or worked with in the past. I asked them all the questions I had, and they were such a wealth of information for me since they had been through it all before. You may be surprised at how open and supportive people in your industry can be in helping you start your business, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions!
4. Get comfortable with taking risks.
Starting a business is a risk in itself, but try to feel it as fun and excitement instead of fear. When I had the commercial lease in hand and it came down to making the decision of whether I was going to sign it or not, I was so scared! I had to make the decision quickly because other people were interested in the space. I was funding my business on my own, and knew it was going to take almost all of my savings to do it. I decided to sign the lease and wrote the biggest check of my life as a deposit for the space. Almost immediately, I felt a deep sense of excitement as the fear washed away. I never wanted money to be the issue why I didn’t do something I wanted to do, because the truth is that you can always make money. A few days later, my bank called and told me I was confirmed for a small business loan. I knew that the Universe had my back!
5. Let people help you.
This is a lesson I’m still learning and trying to get better at every day. After opening the studio, for over a year, I kept my full-time job so that I wouldn’t have to worry about money while getting a new business off the ground. I worked almost every waking moment and was completely exhausted, but kept pushing through. Even after leaving my office job, the work continued as I developed new projects, like a teacher training program. I did a lot on my own, but the truth is that you can’t do everything on your own, and it’s so much easier to let people help you. Accept the kindness of others and don’t forget to take care of yourself amidst all the work you are doing!
I can wholeheartedly say that I love my work and my business. I’m extremely grateful for that, and I wish that everyone can experience this same sentiment and have the ability to fuel their life from what they are passionate about. Although the work of owning your own business is never ending, it’s also exciting and rewarding. Right now, I’m super stoked for my first international yoga retreat to the Philippines in July!
The possibilities are endless once you decide to build a career on your own terms. Start with Love and hard work, and only good things will follow.
Lara Estrada is a yoga studio owner and teacher in Los Angeles. She is proudly Filipina-American.