7 tips to transition from your job to a meditation teaching business
Although transitioning from full-time work to starting a full or part-time meditation teaching business can be daunting, it offers many benefits such as:
- the ability to pursue your passions,
- creating a work-life balance,
- financial independence,
- and control over your career path.
With some work, experience, and a support network, the long-term rewards are possible and worth it.
In this week’s blog, ACMM Coach and experienced corporate mindfulness teacher, speaker, and writer, Jen Hill shares her top tips on how to create a transition path as safely as possible and provides important information on the various skills to gather along the way, to support yourself on the journey to making this major shift.
Becoming a part- or full-time meditation teacher is a real possibility nowadays. The interest in mindfulness and meditation practices has grown significantly in Australia in recent years as awareness of the potential psychological and physical benefits has increased.
While transitioning from a current job to your own meditation teaching business comes with financial uncertainty and risk, as well as the challenges and steep learning curve involved in running a business, the rewards of helping others find inner peace and mindfulness, and the excitement of making a fulfilling career change and being your own boss can make it all worth it.
To ease the way before leaping, it helps to plan to gradually transition your income, develop a mix of possible income streams, and employ courage. While the responsibility of being your own boss may not be for everyone, it is a great time to build a meditation teaching business.
Like a meditation practice, there is no one size fits all approach, rather many possible ways in which this may unfold to suit whatever may be best for you, your goals, and your life circumstances. The benefit of being your own boss is that you can choose how you want your business to feel and flow.
Assuming you (will) have your teaching qualification and insurance, the following tips may help in considering a plan to transition from your current job to becoming a full or part-time meditation teacher.
Tip 1. Keep the Pressure Off
Ideally, you want to keep the pressure off your business needing to generate income before it is ready by maintaining an income independent of your business. This allows you to play, experiment, and grow your business without the anxiety and stress of your business baby needing to walk and earn money before it can crawl.
How long you maintain this side-work depends on how fast you want to grow your business or what your ultimate goal is. Many people prefer not to put pressure on their meditation teaching business to be the main income earner and prefer maintaining additional paid work for a secure income that reliably pays the bills. This could be a great business model! It ensures you do not risk spoiling your passion for teaching by forcing your business to earn money, embodies the essence of non-striving in your meditation teaching, and maintains the freedom to give back to your community, have fun and share the magic of meditation without expectation.
Tip 2. Give Yourself Time
For those of us who have never started a business before, growing a meditation teaching business as our main source of income may take longer than we might think. The general rule of thumb is that it takes 2-3 years of full-time effort for a conventional business to break even (when income is greater than expenses). Sadly, most businesses don’t fail, they run out of cash, so having money in the bank, keeping costs low, and maintaining some form of alternative income is really important to keep you afloat for as long as is needed.
The key is to be able to invest your time and energy into your business. You might do this by gradually reducing your hours in your current job to part-time to free up time to grow your business. If that is not possible, you might look for alternative part-time work to provide you with a regular income while you nourish your business. You might take long service leave or leave without pay if you have those options to test the waters whilst retaining the safety net of returning to your job if required.
This staggered-transition approach allows you to build confidence and experiment to see what works and what you enjoy. While the transition may take years, it is less risky and affords you the time to see what niche(s) might be ideal for you and your business.
In all cases, seek the mix and balance that feels right for you and is sustainable. Create a plan and remember that it is not a set-and-forget exercise – it is a process to keep nurturing your business, ensuring you are on track with your plan, and adjusting it when necessary.
My intention was always to create a full-time meditation teaching business. To do this, I gradually reduced my ‘working-for-the-man’ hours over many years, initially reducing my hours to 4 days a week. Surprisingly my income didn’t change when I did this as I dropped down a tax bracket – thank you Universe! After 12 months, I reduced my hours to 3 days a week to create more space for my business, before leaving that job altogether.
Over time, I not only reduced my working hours, but I also secured study leave from my employer (not always an option in all workplaces, but it is worth asking the question!) to study business and entrepreneurship initially, and then the Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Guiding Meditation and Mindfulness.
I was perhaps too keen to work full-time in my business, quit my job too early, and ran out of cash. This meant I had to bite the bullet and quickly get some casual (hospitality) work. While I was highly grateful for the income to support my business, the gruelling, and mostly night-time work provided a lot of motivation to get my business profitable so that I didn’t need the extra work and could quit that job as well.
Tip 3. Build Up Multiple Sources of Business Income
Develop multiple income streams if possible instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. This might look like starting wherever is easy and obvious and using your current networks to find opportunities. Consider offering your meditation teaching or guiding services at work, in other organizations, or for groups that you are connected with. This is a great way to find your ideal audience(s), build confidence, let your hobby or passion for teaching meditation take on a life of its own and over time, empower you to stretch further out of your comfort zone.
My first teaching ‘job’ was running a 30 min weekly lunchtime guided meditation session at my place of work. While it was voluntary and my employer didn’t pay me, they gave me a room to use for free. I soon started asking my attendees for donations and eventually charged a fee for attendance as my awareness of the value I was offering grew. This was instrumental in helping me build confidence early on, gain feedback and incorporate that feedback to improve my services.
Tip 4. Practice What You Preach and Teach
It’s important that we as meditation teachers walk the talk and role model the attitudes we teach. For example, if you have previously experienced burnout, health issues, or trauma, it’s important to address these through your own healing and recovery journey and seek professional support when needed.
Even though it may counter mainstream business advice, it is important to embody and apply the same attitudes towards running our business as we do in our meditation practice. Attitudes like patience, trust, non-judgment, non-striving, acceptance, not rushing, not straining, being gentle, employing a beginner’s mind, not dwelling upon contrasts, and viewing all problems as challenges are notable and surprisingly successful attitudes to apply to your meditation teaching business!
The most important thing is to prioritize your personal meditation practice and self-care. I have noticed that things don’t flow as easily or profitably when I focus on my business first and my practice second. Prioritizing yourself and practising first is not only the way of integrity but the way of honouring your inner wisdom and your most trusted guide at all times, especially when business challenges arise.
Tip 5. Think Like a Boss
Being a business owner requires a different mindset than working for someone else. Thinking like a business owner includes considerations like where your business will come from, from whom, and how you will win it. Being aware of different types of business expenses and ensuring that you are charging enough to cover your time, overheads, insurance, tax, venue/website costs, equipment, superannuation contributions, utilities, professional development, and accounting etc., Here is the link to Meditation Australia’s suggested pricing structure, to check if some of the pricing may seem higher than you may have been considering.
Schedule each day you work on your business and do at least three things towards your business on those days. Have two to-do lists: one for jobs that need doing and one for jobs that will grow your business. Tick items off both lists.
Market yourself by developing a website, creating social media and LinkedIn profiles, and using other marketing strategies to promote your business services and establish your brand as a meditation teacher.
Consider specializing, niching, or targeting a specific audience. This can involve focusing on a specific form of meditation or a particular demographic, such as mindfulness for stress reduction, loving-kindness meditation, meditation for children, parents, or corporate training. Alternatively, you might follow all of your interests, and let your niche naturally emerge over time. It’s possible that the emerging niches you encounter may not be what you expect, as I experienced with my own business. Therefore, it’s important to keep an open mind, trust your instincts, stay true to yourself, and see what naturally develops and resonates.
Tip 6. Grow Your Business Skills and Understanding
In addition to meditation teaching and facilitation skills, running a successful business requires business skills and understanding. These skills are just as important as your technical meditation skills and may include knowledge and expertise in broad areas such as marketing, accounting, client and lead management, social media, and SEO management. So, keep learning, as there is much you can access for free online. Be sure to make the most of the many ACMM resources available for building and marketing your business.
Tip 7. Connect to Sources of Support
Grow your professional network: connect with other meditation teachers, health professionals, or wellbeing-focused organisations to share knowledge, gain support, cross-refer clients, or collaborate. Learn from others and what has helped them succeed. Building a successful business is a path that has been travelled many times. You do not need to reinvent the wheel.
You might consider attending or starting a meditation teachers networking group, enrolling in relevant courses to upskill and meet like-minded others, or finding yourself a business mentor – someone who has built up a business from scratch that is willing to guide you and answer your questions.
Business networking groups can be a great way to meet other business owners, spread the word, seek, or share support, and learn from others. Just be mindful that some groups charge a lot of money and may not be relevant!
By considering these tips and delivering consistent, high-quality meditation teaching, it is possible to establish yourself as a successful, full-time meditation teacher in Australia.
Thanks to ACMM Coaches Sanjana, Susie, and Lauren for their input into this article.
Author – Jen Hill, ACMM Coach
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