So, you’ve completed your meditation teacher training and you are ready to start a business as a meditation teacher. No matter what type of business a person chooses to commence, writing a business plan is absolutely essential to the business’s success; that goes for meditation teaching too. A business plan solidifies an idea and creates a sense of direction.
If you are new to business it is worth acknowledging from the outset that the business is not you. Even if you choose to be a sole trader and create a business that fully reflects all of your talents, your business should still be treated as distinctly separate.
If indeed the business is a completely separate entity, then it helps to understand your relationship to it. Some people think about their business as a seed they are gently tending to a beautiful tree or a baby they are nurturing to grow to an adult or if, like me, you are really passionate about what you are doing, you may consider your business as your lover – in that your heart’s desire will be realised by investing in a future together.
This notion of relationship is essential to a business’s success. If you don’t want to dedicate your time, passion and energy from the outset then you may be better suited to employment. For a business to be successful you need to be willing to eat, breathe and dream your work. If you have a sense of dedication and commitment from the get-go it will be easier to ride through any difficult periods.
When creating a business plan you don’t need to make it very formal unless you’re trying to land investors, apply for grants or get a loan. For a meditation teacher starting out this is unlikely, so you may be better served by a simple working document that gives you a foundation for your business while helping you to plan out the actionable steps you need to take.
The most important thing is that you put your ideas down on paper, including the simple basics of where you want to go and how you intend to get there.
Use the key ingredients below to create a successful plan of action that’s right for you.
Making a business plan is just like being back at school and doing a project, with a format a little like making a small book. Just as with a school assignment the document will begin with a cover page. This should include your name and your business name (if you have decided on one), your address, key contact people, their roles (if appropriate), phone numbers and email. Have fun with this – if you already have a logo add it to this page, if not perhaps add an image that best represents the kind of work you will be doing.
Table of Content
Depending on the size of your business plan, you may want to include a table of contents, with section names matched to page numbers for easy access to your content. Admittedly, sometimes it is easier to return to the table of contents once you have completed your planning.
This is very much the heart of your plan. The executive summary is practically a mini-business plan. For example, if you showed your executive summary to an investor, bank or even your neighbour, they should know exactly what your plan of action is just by reading your executive summary. This section shouldn’t be more than two pages long and is usually the hardest part to write. This is like a creative brief.
To write this, focus on the following simple basics to guide you: who you are, what you are, how you do this and for whom. Also include where you are based if you feel this is appropriate.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. If you already have a website, or any other material you have previously written, use this as a base. This can be a difficult process, so do whatever it takes to keep it simple.
Once you have done this, try cutting this back to create a ‘mission statement’. Break down the most important parts of what you have said into approximately 250 characters, or a few sentences at the most.
A mission statement will enable you to clarify exactly what you do quickly and easily. It will also keep you on track in the future. For example, as you make business decisions you can ask yourself, ‘how does this decision fit with my mission statement?’ If it fits, then you know you are on track.
Once you have written your mission statement, add it to the very top of your executive summary.
Where you (or your business) have been and where you are going. You can also use this section to identify market trends in the wellness sector and how your business best meets these market needs.
Provide history (if applicable) and identify your long-term goals. Have a realistic plan of where you want to be in three months, six months, a year, three years etc. Setting goals to timeframes keeps you on track and helps you recognise your achievements.
This is a really important aspect of your plan. Teaching meditation has almost unlimited market potential, therefore from the outset it will help you to identify which type of client you would like to work with. Some examples of market sectors are: school children, corporate professionals or local people in your neighbourhood. It is also worth considering your existing networks, as these relationships may provide a mutually beneficial gateway through which to establish an initial teaching practice.
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to acknowledge your competition. Do a little research on who else is delivering a similar service to a similar market segment in a similar location to you. Then consider your business’s point of difference, being all the qualities that set you apart from your competitors.
Everything there is to know about your services should be in this section. This should include your class format, your prices, any additional services and your point of difference.
Consider where you are going to teach from; will you be hiring a venue or are you intending to work in an environment that is provided to you by your client (such as a school hall if working with children)? If you are choosing to adapt your delivery method to your client’s venue, consider what materials you may require to ensure that your working space always works for you.
If you intend to work with large groups facilitated by a single client, such as a school with many students or a company with numerous employees, consider how you will charge them appropriately and what methods of payment you will accept.
Sales and Promotion
Now that you have addressed your target market and what type of service you are going to deliver, you can begin to consider your branding, such as your name, logo, flyers or website. Your marketing collateral for sales and promotion is best created in a manner that not only reflects what you do but is also attractive to the market segment you are trying to capture.
Consider the best approach to getting the word out about your classes and growing your student base. Will you need flyers or can you invite people through social media? Will you need a website or would an advert in the local school newsletter suffice?
It’s essential to put your financial outlook in order. This section should include how much you’ve made, intend to make and exactly how much everything is going to cost.
Try and spend some time considering hidden costs. Even if you are willing to work for free, still put a labour cost to your work, as this is the opportunity cost of not working for a wage.
Include your profit outlook for the future. Sometimes it can help to work backwards with this. Consider how much income you would like to make annually, monthly or weekly. Then break this down further and consider how much income you would like to make from a class, how much you would charge per student and then work out how many students you would need to make the desired income. Against this figure include your outgoings, such as venue hire, annual insurance, promotional costs etc. This way you can come to an understanding of how many students you would like to aim for per class and how many classes a week you may need to deliver to bring in your desired income.
Generally this section would include balance sheets, cash flow projections and profit and loss statements. However, don’t be daunted by this – keep this section as simple as you like, as long as you are clear about both your expected income and outgoings.
If there are going to be any red flags in starting your business, this is the section where you will most likely begin to see them. Be honest with yourself… setting up your business needs to be achievable.
When you have finished this process, run back through all the information and then reflect back on your mission statement to make sure it’s still spot-on or if it needs a further polish.
That’s it, you’re done!
Remember, this plan is specifically designed to help you achieve your personal goals, so by all means have fun with it. Be creative and see where your plan of action can take you. And remember this is a living document that can be altered at any time to suit the pathway your business is taking.
Being a meditation teacher is an incredibly fulfilling role. As a teacher we assist others to find inner peace, hear their inner voice and set them on their own path to fulfilling their potential. A business plan not only assists you to work through how you can provide a service that best suits you and your market – as a meditation teacher it is also worth acknowledging that you are essentially creating a plan for how your talents can best assist others.
Article by Joanna Joustra
Executive Officer, Meditation Association of Australia