It’s funny where you pull life lessons from, isn’t it? For me, it’s often on the yoga mat. Recently, I’ve noticed a few parallels when practicing yoga that I believe can be applied to running a small business. You’d be surprised at the connections:
1. You’ll Never Be Perfect. Despite practicing yoga for 12 years, I still fall. I still have trouble getting into some poses. I think in small business ownership, the idea is that if you run a business long enough, eventually you’ll get it perfect. Not so. As long as your industry, technology, marketing techniques and competitors continue to evolve, you will need to grow and adapt. Stagnation equals failure and while you should continue to strive towards perfection, knowing you’ll never attain it can be…well, enlightening.
2. If It’s Not Working, Let It Go. In yoga, there’s the temptation of stretching one’s body beyond where it wants to go. There’s always the price to pay for that. In business, you can’t force a product or marketing technique if it’s not working. It will cost you time and money. Instead, admit failure early, cut your ties and move on.
3. It’s All About Balance. We hear a lot about work/life balance in the entrepreneur world. It’s not BS. If you work 90 hours a week, your ability to make the right decisions on the fly will diminish. If you’re permanently on vacation from your business, it won’t succeed. In yoga, that “sweet spot” happens when you can stand on one leg blissfully. It can happen, but you have to work toward it.
4. Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Is a Good Thing. There are those yoginis who would rather stick to the downward dog poses they’re comfortable with because they’re easy. There are those business owners who would rather continue to operate like they have been for years. But by pushing yourself just a little, you’ll be amazed at what you (or your business) can do that had been just out of your comfort zone.
5. Comparing Yourself to Others Can Throw You Off. I still struggle to not check out my yoga neighbors in a class to see how high they can hold their legs. It’s not a competition. In small business, yes, you have competitors and you absolutely should be aware of what they’re up to. But constantly comparing your business to theirs won’t really net you any benefits. Instead, focus on making your strengths stronger so that you have enough competitive advantage to shine.
6. Hot Yoga Isn’t For Everyone. The very idea of practicing yoga in a 100+ degree room is enough to throw me in a tizzy. That’s fine; it’s not for me. Likewise, for you as a business owner, don’t try to force yourself into products or industries that you don’t naturally gravitate towards. Instead, focus on those that bring you pride and that your customers love. A niche market is better if it’s one you adore working in.
7. You’d Be Surprised What You Can Do When You Let Go. Whether it’s a handstand or that next creative idea for your business, sometimes trying too hard to make it happen is exactly what you don’t want to do. Take a step back from the situation. Stop thinking about it. You’ll find the answers you were looking for when you let go.
8. You Can Only Do One Thing at a Time (Well). Self-proclaimed multitaskers, I’m talking to you! You think that writing emails while strategizing about your business, while also talking to a client on the phone will help you save time, but you’re actually not doing any of those tasks well. Take it from someone who has tried balancing on one foot while thinking about her company. Something has to give (and I have the bruise to prove it).
9. Be Happy Where You Are. This concept, called Santosha, doesn’t suggest you never strive to grow your business. What it does suggest, however, is that you appreciate how far you’ve come and be content with your efforts so far.
10. The Best Way to Grow is to Try Something New. Trying new yoga poses invites creativity. Likewise, trying new strategies, techniques or other ideas in your business can help you grow in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine. Be open to what comes.
Yoga Photo via Shutterstock