The Two Buckets of Challenges
When I speak with studio owners and managers, I often ask them what they feel their biggest challenge is. Everyone gives me a different answer – or so they think. I’ve noticed their challenges generally fall into one of two buckets: Spending too much time IN their business or too much time ON their business. (And side note, this probably means they are not giving enough “YOU time” to themselves or their own personal practice either.)
Let me give you an example: Before I ran my first Pilates studio, I was a Pilates instructor. I was renting space at one studio for my private clients and working as an employee for another one. While my focus was on building my private clients, within a short time, my employee role had turned into the manager of that studio, and I had to switch gears. I now had to be both IN the business and also work ON the business.
That gear switch was hard for me. I suddenly had to think about the schedules of 10 instructors, not just my own. And, not just about this week’s schedule, but weeks into the future. With my private clients, my schedule had filled up quickly. How could I help these 10 fill theirs? Where would I find the time to coach them, bring on new instructors, and still maintain my clients?
I’ll admit, the first time I adjusted how I balanced teaching and studio management, I overdid it. I pulled back so much on my teaching that I was spending more time ON the business than IN it. This worked great for the short term. But I knew I had to find a happy medium before too long, if for nobody else by myself. After all, I didn’t get into the Pilates business to manage, but to teach!
Don’t Fix It With Just A Bandaid
You may also experience the exact opposite when you first open your studio. You are excited, your teachers and their clients are too. As the dust settles and you feel the pressure to increase the numbers across the board, it’s easy (as the owner) to just teach more; increase your time spent IN your business. After all, the more you teach, the less you pay out in payroll, right? But, teaching more in your business is just a bandaid. Your studio cannot market itself or find great staff – both of which take time and lots of planting of seeds.
If you’re too busy teaching, then are you going to have the time and energy to think ahead at the end of your long day? How will you find new instructors to help you with all the clients you have? Or time to train them so they stay and don’t have to be replaced? You may suddenly find you’ve stopped marketing, because you don’t have the time or the staff to take on any new clients. All of this hinders the growth of your business and ultimately affects your personal life.
Because you deserve to own a studio you love, to teach and to have time for yourself, here’s how to find the balance between IN, ON and YOU:
Schedule Everything: You already are used to
scheduling your clients. Now schedule in your office hours. Set aside the same time each week. It will allow you the peace of mind that your standing clients have: they know, for example, on Thursdays from 4 to 5 pm, they will be getting their session. Similarly, you will know that you have set office hours to get your projects done. Then, as office-hour-type-things come up, you don’t have to feel the weight of getting them done at that exact moment. You can tell yourself, “Tomorrow at 12 pm I will deal with this,” and then go back to teaching.
Have a purpose: Each month have a purpose and goal for those 30 days. Your goal should be something that leads to your big, year-long vision. Then, take that month’s goal and break it into a list of “to-do’s,” putting each to-do on one of the weeks in that month. For example, if you wish to partner up with a neighbouring business at the end of that month, then one of your tasks would be to reach out to neighbouring businesses. You could do this Week 1 of the month. One business each day. Then during Week 2 you could propose to each one you met the week before and liked your partnership idea. Week 3 could be follow up and finalising the idea, and Week 4 promoting what you two have discussed.
Get Ahead: It’s a little tricky to actually “get ahead.” It requires you to consistently analyze your existing business so that you have a buffer for all future projects. It requires you to know the schedules of both your staff and yourself. If you can tell that there is not much availability in your schedules, then now is the time to be looking for and training new staff. Waiting until everyone is overbooked is too late. Imagine if one of your teachers burns out and then you simply cannot accommodate their clients and they go to a different studio instead! Take the tool from “Have a purpose.” One month your goal could be to hire two new instructors. Week 1 could be you posting the job opportunity and sharing with your friends. Week 2 you can reach out to Pilates teaching schools in your area, or maybe you start taking classes from local teachers you think might be worth inviting in for an interview. Week 3 would be the interviews and Week 4 could be hiring and preparing for training. Eventually, you’ll just have the “feel” of your business, and it will come innately, but getting ahead is essential to balancing your love for teaching and the business hours.
Clock out: Seriously, you have to know when not to work at all. No teaching, no business – just you and the real world.
Like your office hours, make sure this is as consistent as it can be. I recommend you check out my online course, “Never a Dull Moment.” Before your clients get IN your schedule, both YOU and working ON your business get scheduled first. In the past, I called this the Life/Work Balance because by saying “work/life,” it put work first. I think life should be first! But truthfully, when you are running your own studio it is a Life/Work blend. Some weeks will have more business and others more teaching. However one thing that should be consistent is your YOU time.
If you want to stop sounding like a broken record, if you want to start growing your business for the long haul, then you are going to have to spend more time ON your business. To reiterate, this does not mean you just work more. This means you have your team teach some of your clients for you. I know you love all of your clients. I also know you don’t love all your clients. It’s okay to have them take one hour with you and another hour with a different instructor, giving you more time to think further ahead, build your team, and market your studio.
So, tell me in the comments below: What is your biggest challenge? How do you find time for IN, ON and YOU in your busy schedule?