10 Things Yoga Teaches Us About Small Business Ownership

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:

Yoga

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

34 Comments ▼

Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

34 Reactions

  1. This is fantastic advice. As both a yoga practitioner and a small business owner, I can relate. I am always looking for inspiration and motivation to keep my practice and my business propelling forward and growing. These are great tips to do just that. If I was to add anything, number 11 would be “to breathe” – extremely essential in business and yoga. Follow the rhythm!

  2. It’s nice to read this kind of stuff in the morning. (I’m reading this before engaging in business stuff) Love the stepping back thing, it always works, despite what our crazy task engagement brain tells us. The thing about realizing your marketing route or product is a failure that is tricky is.. how do you know it’s a failure just yet? Maybe it needs more time. A lot of things do. But I get the principle. Don’t take FOREVER!! Know when to move on.

  3. What a great post – there are some brilliant analogies in there. I agree with the hot yoga point – there is no point forcing your business down a path that doesn’t fit/feel natural.

  4. Great post Susan, I love the way you connected the yoga themes with business. Very good tips :)

  5. I’ve never tried yoga before, but with the business acumen that comes with it I may just have to try. ;)

  6. Seems like taking a yoga-minded approach to not only business, but to life as well, is a good way to go. Great article.

  7. Very insightful. Great advice about focusing on your strengths and not pushing too hard into things that you are not equipped to. Will keep this article in mind!

  8. Susan, I particularly liked point
    1 Perfection!!
    perfection is draining…it comes from our need to control, it stems back from school days when we aimed for 10 out of 10..it’s not something we’d choose…we can let it go
    9 Happy where we are
    Our (western) culture teaches us to strive for more. We want money for the things it can buy, we want those things for the feeling we think they will give us. We can access those feelings right now. Drop into your heart and feel happiness…breathe in and out..focus on happiness and it will come.

  9. and like every yoga class, I would say ‘namaste’ for sharing these life lessons. I think, many of us still struggle with the art of letting go when a business idea isn’t working because of so many books out there saying that you should persist.. until you reach your goals. Some learned it the hard and costly way..

  10. Susan,

    Loved your article! As a small biz owner and yoga enthusiast, I can definitely relate. Well done!

  11. I really enjoyed reading your blog and tho’ I don’t do Yoga I do have a small business. What you’ve said is spot on, well written and easy to read and understand. Quite enjoyable and thought provoking.

  12. This article is wonderful. I just began a yoga small business and am in my “infancy” stage where it’s very uncertain and I’m still trying to just get known and find some private clients. As it’s the slow season it’s not an easy road and while part of me is loving the excitement and challenge, another part does need to be reminded to just keep putting the effort in and eventually, though it will take some time, I will see the fruits of my labor. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Rachel–
      Wow, you’re really on both sides of the fence! Congrats on your new business and good luck. And remember: when things get stressful, take pigeon pose!

      Susan

  13. Love your article Susan! I have taken so many lessons from yoga and applied them to my business and to my life as well. I currently have a new program I’m launching called Pranayama Running which is a system that teaches runners how to use and incorporate yoga breathing techniuqes while running. In the program I take many of the principles of yoga and apply them to running. For instance, I invite people to think of their running as a practice, not a workout; and to create a partnership with their body instead of trying to push their body to do something its not ready to do. Thanks for your insight, everyone can benefit from reading this…. yogi or not!

  14. Awesome, thanks!

  15. Very true, I personally can relate to #3 the best.

  16. Fantastic and brilliant !!
    I am like you frilance with à company and à yoginin:)
    I find you true , genuine and intelligent … Yoga is So much more than fancy poses … Just like à genuine company is … You cant ler it go – you are addicted … I LOVE you mentioned The hardest and at The same time Beautiful Word : SANTICHA
    THANK YOU FOR THAT !! I am Feeling much more “normal” and calm reading your
    Post … With all My heart : NAMASTÉ
    /Therése

  17. I love this. I practice yoga once a week, and all of these points are right on. Focus, breath, and balance…some basic yoga principles that are absolutely necessary when starting or running a small biz.

  18. I knew there was a reason I’ve enjoyed my past 10 years of yoga classes :)

  19. Hey Susan, as an employee I feel stressed to follow the everyday work routine. As you said, yoga gives an opportunity to experience calmness of mind at the workplace. By doing day to day yoga I will be re-energized with the clarity and vitality. It’s a great experience to feel the peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



Who influences you? Nominate for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards.