Advice that Helps You Succeed
In this second interview of a 3-part blog series, Lesley Logan, author of Profitable Pilates: Everything But the Exercises, offers advice to new and experienced Pilates instructors for getting started, tips for success, and learning from mistakes.
I’m interested in starting my own Pilates business. Given your extensive range of knowledge and expertise, what advice would you give me to help me succeed from Day 1?
- Start small, you can always grow your business. It’s really hard to pull back if you start out too big. For example: You may want to create the most beautiful studio in the world, and offer all kinds of classes. If it’s just you, though, and you don’t have a strong client base yet, what you really need is just enough space for your equipment. It’s better to outgrow your space than to go broke because you went too big too fast. That may be very hard to recover from.
- Develop an online presence. A simple website and a Facebook page will do. You also need to be “Googleable.” Get on Yelp. These are all things that you must have. Ask your friends and clients to write and post reviews. Something like 60 percent of a customer’s decision on whether or not to buy your service has already been made before they walk through your door.
- Get to know your neighbors! Even though we do so much online, your neighbors are your best referrals. Local nail salons, schools, sporting goods stores—they should know that you exist and who you are.
- Find ways to insert “I’m a Pilates instructor” into all of your conversations. Practice telling people who you are and what you do. Find ways to get people to engage with you—about Pilates. A coffee shop employee asked me recently, “How is your day?” and I told him, “It’s wonderful! I just taught this great Pilates class!” This coffee shop was not even located in my neighborhood, but the employee asked me for my card. You never know where a new connection may lead you.
- Identify your strengths and work on those. Hire people to do the things you are not good at. I can make more money teaching Pilates in less time than it would take me to figure out how to build my website. Save yourself the unnecessary stress that will end up costing you more in the end.
Learn Lessons Through Your Mistakes
Everyone learns lessons along their professional journey—and some of those lessons are learned through mistakes. What are some of the top lessons you have learned that would help others avoid similar pitfalls?
I have made some great mistakes! Some perfect mistakes! Such as:
- Saying YES to every client. This is how I ended up overworking myself with two jobs. A client would call and say, “Can I come at 6 am?” Another would ask, “Can I come in at 7:30 am?” And I would say, “Yes,” because I work from 9 am to 6 pm. (What? Was I crazy?) I was so excited to teach Pilates that I kept saying, “Yes!” when I could have said, “These are the only times I have.” Because of saying “yes” too much and overworking myself, I eventually learned how to set boundaries for my clients as well as me.
- Allowing the desire to just “do it” take precedence over “just feel it.” You end up missing/enjoying the journey if you are so caught up in checking things off your to-do list. New instructors can learn so much from being more like a sponge: Just soak things in. I ended up going through a new training program just to get that feeling and important perspective back. In between your goals, there is this little thing called “life.” All that “stuff in between” can teach us how to handle our next goal.
Connect with Lesley to Learn More
I really love when teachers reach out. Bombard me with questions! Every teacher is an inspiration to me. It’s a beautiful thing to work with teachers who are just starting out as well as those who have been teaching for 30+ years. I really want to help teachers become as successful as they can be.