Go For It

I have people coming to me all the time who say they want to go big and do something bold like open a franchise, start their own business or quit everything and go back to school. Often, those people get cold feet and never make any progress toward their big dreams.

I’ve been lucky enough to make some progress towards my own big dreams and the reason for that is not because I have something special that those other people don’t. We’re all capable of success and have the same 24 hours in a day to work towards that success. The secret to the success I’ve had is…get ready for it…just going for it every day!  While I’m the type of person who does as much research as I can so I can make educated choices, the ultimate secret is deciding to just believe in myself and take that leap into the unknown.

The Trapeze Effect

An analogy I use is called the Trapeze Effect. It’s like you’re swinging comfortably on a trapeze and then you see the other one hanging there in front of you. The one hanging there is that opportunity just waiting to be grabbed.

If you try to cautiously let go of the trapeze you’re swinging on with one hand and use that hand to grab the other, you’re going to be stuck in between the two—the past and the future.

But if you want to be successful, you need to let go with both hands and hurl yourself toward the other one and grab on. You have to make that jump.   It’s a vulnerable thing to do, but it’s the only true path to success.

Have a safety net

Whatever you do, don’t jump blindly. Make sure you do your research and look into whatever you’re considering as much as you can. That way you can make sure you have some kind of a safety net beneath you when you do decide you’re ready to make that leap and grab the other trapeze.  You’ve done your research and have educated yourself enough on the opportunity to know that you can do it!

One example of this from my own life is when I decide to open a studio in a new market. I always think forward to the worst case scenario if that studio doesn’t do OK. Would I be able to sell inventory and equipment to other studios, or move the studio? How much would my actual capital loss be?  I talk out the potential loss if that scenario happened, so I make sure I’m not going in totally blind. If the worst happened, I would be OK.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re interested in taking a leap of your own and starting a business.  If you’re scared to make the big leap and go completely on your own, starting a franchise can be a way to make a smaller leap towards that dream with the safety net of a proven model and the experience of other people who have had success to support you.

Fall down? Get back up!

No matter what your goal, making the leap is never easy. Every single time I’ve been on the road to open a new studio in a market I have never lived in before, I’m nervous on the drive. Even though it was scary, each time, I decided to believe in myself and do my best.  I take that leap.

I do this because I’d much rather live my life to the fullest and fall on my face than never try at all. And trust me, I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes just like everyone else.  Every time I failed or made a mistake, I got back up again and tried harder. We only have one life, so we might as well make the best of it.

Just remember, truly living life and growing as a person start outside your comfort zone. If you want to be a mover and a shaker, you have to get outside your bubble.  Taking the leap to get there and being successful take hard work. If you’re willing to be brave and put in that work, there’s nothing you can’t achieve. 

Those damn Joneses…I just can’t seem to keep up with them!

When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I usually do is login to Facebook and Instagram. The “fear of missing out” and having to know what everyone is up to from years ago has now turned into my morning routine. That routine is often filled with thoughts like: “Oh wow, another engagement; or look how happy that couple is, they seem to have the perfect white picket fence life; and even more often, “look at their new car, house vacation, outfit, their babies that never cry, or that relationship that seems effortless and perfect etc. How can they afford all that stuff? I want stuff like that too!”

At some point I realized how people always seem to show their best faces on social media. Did you ever notice how common posts tend to be about all the beautiful things we have, the exotic, expensive trips we take, how happy we are in our relationships – and other things like that?  The funny thing about this cycle of social media is that we then end up trying to constantly “keep up with the Joneses” (or the Kardashians) and be like everyone else. So we make these same kinds of posts that perpetually contribute to the false front about how “fictitiously perfect” our lives are. The thing is, if we aren’t careful, this habit of trying to keep up with the social media Joneses can lead us toward living beyond our means and potentially some serious financial distress.

Luckily, the way out of this cycle is as easy as a shift in perspective on your life. The fact is, we live in a world where 1 percent of the population holds a whopping 48 percent of the planet’s wealth! So it’s easy to get frustrated and feel bad about where you are with your own income and life situation. But I think it’s important that we stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and start working at being happy with our current situation in life. We need to start appreciating the amazing lives we all truly have. And, it’s actually a key part of your yoga practice!

Start appreciating the amazing life you have

A great way to gain some perspective on what you have is to look at how your income compares on a worldwide scale. According to the Global Rich List, if you have an annual income of about $42,000 CAD per year, you are in the top 1 percent of global incomes (as of 2016). That means the majority of Canadians are amongst some of highest income earners in the world – and you’re living much better than most people on the planet. You are most likely in the top 1 percent of the highest income earners in the world. That’s right. You heard it… you!

That’s because there are so many people out there in developing countries who don’t make enough money to even meet their basic needs. They may not have a roof over their heads, enough food to eat or even clean water. Those are things we tend to take for granted here in the Western world.  Social media doesn’t recognize clean drinking water as something to brag about or recognize with hundreds of “likes.” Maybe it would if we were floating on the clean drinking water with our personal yacht and a bottle of champagne in our hands…#nofilter #ballsohard.

So that’s a good place to start; by developing some appreciation for everything we do have! It’s always a rat race, with people trying to get ahead and get more.  Most people spend the majority of their life wanting more…achieving more…buying more. Then they die. Yup. And all that stuff they accumulated doesn’t matter a bit. But when you actually look at it, living in the Western world, most of us have all our basic needs met – which is the fundamental condition for happiness that not everyone around the world enjoys. 

Appreciating this blessing is also a key part of yoga practice, as set out in the five yamas from the Sutras of Patanjali – one of the fundamental texts of yoga spirituality. The five yamas include: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), and brahmacharya (self-control) and aparigraha (non-coveting). The yama of aparigraha that encourages us to let go of everything we don’t need, keep only what is necessary and be content with what we have.

Now let me make something clear, I’m business first - always have been and always will be.  And, I’ve been referred to as a capitalist on many occasions – an accusation I won’t deny.  I love opening my Oranj studios; creating something from nothing and providing services to markets in need. But, I do also love yoga. Yoga has taught me how to live a balanced life and bring compassion and appreciation into my everyday encounters. Yoga is as much about the physical asanas you do on the mat, as the spiritual practices you employ in your everyday life. Together, they offer a path to true joy and enlightenment. So, if you’re feeling down about how much money ends up in your bank account each month – or how awesome your friend’s life looks on social media and how lame yours seems to be in comparison – you can see it as an opportunity to exercise the yama of aparigraha and further deepen your yoga practice.

Don’t stop working toward your goals

Also, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should be complacent with where you currently are in your life. If you have hopes and dreams that involve more money in your bank account, I highly encourage you to set goals and be motivated to work towards them.

If one of those goals is to not have to worry about making ends meet from month to month, and instead achieving financial freedom – then you need to look at building wealth. Wealth is where the difference between the top 1 percent and the rest of us really emerges. While income is the amount of money you get paid every month, wealth is the value of all your assets, investments and other elements that make up your net worth. According to the Global Rich List, you need a net worth of $770,000 to make it into the top one percent of the wealthiest people in the world.

And while that might seem like a pretty difficult number to reach, building wealth is not as difficult as you might think. It really comes down to putting what resources you do have to work for you, and being disciplined in how you spend your money.

In my next post, I’ll be looking at some of my favorite ways to help build wealth and make your money work for you. So stay tuned!

P.S. If you’re interested in taking an amazing” better human training” program, I highly recommend the 200-hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training course, taught at our oranj fitness studio locations – and also in Mexico! This training is 100 percent guaranteed to change your life for the better. I know it has changed mine! For more info, visit http://www.oranjfitness.com/training/. Namaste!

Franchise Vs Solo Start Up

So you want to start a business? Should you go solo or hook up with a great franchise?

I always have people calling me and asking me for advice about how to start a fitness business, or other businesses. They want to know where to go and what to do. They also want to be their own boss and become financially free while doing something they love.

Many people who reach out wonder if they should launch into their own solo venture, or whether a franchise offers a better opportunity. I tell them there are benefits and challenges to both and which is right depends on their personality and goals, but ultimately the franchise route offers a faster and more reliable way to the success and financial freedom they want.

Going it solo

Starting out on your own to build a business from the ground up is an exciting adventure. You get to be 100 percent boss with the freedom to put your vision into the business from day one. You also get total control over your products and services, operating processes, and take home all of the profits your business makes.

But as someone who has built a business from the ground up, let me tell you that it can take a while to see those profits. I’ve been at this for nine years and I can’t even count how many times I looked at my bank account and felt queasy in my stomach. When you start a business from the ground up, you will lose sleep, work long hours and end up paying yourself last.

In the first few years after I decided to start a fitness business, I would show up first thing in the morning to open up studio and I didn’t know if people were even going to show up. I would be coming in at five in the morning to do childcare and closing the doors at the end of the day. It takes a long time to build your brand, develop a consistent cash flow, and recruit amazing staff.  It’s not easy!

And when you go it on your own, the odds are against you when it comes to success. Approximately 80 percent of new businesses go under in the first year. And of those that make it through the first year, another 50 percent will fail in the first five years. That’s only 10 percent of businesses that make it through to five years of operations! Most businesses also don’t see consistent revenue for the first five years. So you have people who have this vision and they’re all excited about opening a business, but at the end of the day a lot of them have just created a job for themselves. The stats are against them.

As you can see, building your own business from the bottom floor is not for the faint of heart. But if you’ve got the drive and are willing to stick it out to make your unique vision a reality, it could be for you.

The franchise formula

For those who don’t mind following some directions on the path to business ownership and financial freedom, a franchise could be the way to go.

Successful franchises are built on formulas that have been proven to work by people who have invested a lot of time, energy and money into their business models. In the case of oranj, we ran our Kelowna studio successfully for three years but we needed to prove it again in another market. So we opened another studio in Fort McMurray and were once again successful. I calculated the trial and error investment for proving our concept and it amounts to $2 million. A $2-million investment just to prove the concept was successful!  Wowzers!

When you buy a franchise, you have a proven model along with someone who can hold your hand to make sure you won’t fail. You get to learn from their mistakes and capitalize on their wins. And you’ll start out with all the tools you need to succeed: brand awareness, proven staff training procedures, a detailed marketing plan, bulk buying power and more.

That said, deciding to go with a franchise does have its strings attached. You will have to pay franchise fees, follow a certain set of rules set out by the company, and also have the cash to buy the franchise and pay for the associated startup costs.  

So before buying a franchise, it’s important to look at the requirements and ask yourself some questions to make sure it will work for you. Do I pay flat fees or are they based on a percentage of profit? How much freedom to I have to put my own vision into the business and tailor it to my community? Do I have access to the capital needed for startup?

You should also look at your five and 10 years goals. Look inside and ask what you stand for as a business owner. You are going to be living and breathing this for months and years to come. What kind of hours are you willing to work, where do you live and what kind of capital output can you manage?

The oranj example

At oranj we charge flat franchise fees. So if you’re working your butt off, you can reap the profits. We also based our model on lululemon’s, which places our managers as experts on their communities. They get to decide what kinds of events and classes they are running. It adds a very local feel to each of our franchises.

And we also operate with a “Triple P” bottom line – people, planet and profit. We want to be financially profitable but also make a difference in the world. That’s why we’re 100 percent vegan; we reduce, reuse and recycle, hire locally, reduce our carbon footprint and make sure all our staff are empowered and happy.

Venturing out into business ownership, in particular when you’re spending a lot of money to buy and start a franchise, is a major undertaking and not something you should launch into without plenty of self-reflection and research. So whether you choose to go solo or buy into a successful franchise, be sure to do your homework and most importantly, go with your gut!

For more details on franchising check out http://www.oranjfitness.com/franchise/

Who You Are

As I launch my new website and started brainstorming content for my first blog post, the topic came naturally to me – the Fort McMurray wildfire. that instigated a mandated, city-wide evacuation and destroyed several neighbourhoods, leaving others severely smoke damaged. With my life over the past month turned upside down by this horrific event, I knew that my first entry here needed to touch on an approach that can help you deal with the experiences and difficult emotions you might feel around this disaster – and others like it.

When you have no control over the external events around you, the only thing you can control is who YOU are in any given situation. This is one of my favourite quotes that I often share with my yoga students in class. Little did I realize that over the past month I was going to have to put regularly put what I preach into practice on many occasions.

When I was messaging my staff during the fire to see where they all were and if they were OK, the common response I received was: “Sheila, this is straight out of a horror movie.” My heart was breaking as I saw my community go up in flames. I watched the television with tears rolling down my face and thought back to my yoga practice and the mantra: “The only thing you control in any situation is who YOU ARE.”

As the fire burned on, it was inspiring to see so many people choose to step up in this crisis; to help others, save homes, and lead through example. After we knew all of our staff members were safe, our oranj fitness team wanted to help. So we pitched in the way we knew best…through yoga!  We initiated a fundraiser called Hand to Hand[CP3]  that saw our shareholders challenge our oranj fitness communities to raise up to a total of $32,000, and promised to match whatever was raised. In the end we collected over $20,000 that was matched with an additional $20,000 from oranj, for a total of $40,000 in donations to the relief effort.

The culmination of this extremely powerful initiative came when my staff and I hand delivered these funds to the people evacuated from Fort McMurray. You can learn more about the fundraiser and its results in this this video link summary.

When I was teaching the fundraiser yoga class [CP1] in Edmonton on May 24th, I touched on the fact that we were all heading back to Fort McMurray in a week. This was going to be an emotional experience for everyone.  I reminded everyone to think about our theme: “The only thing you control in any situation is who YOU ARE.” Fort McMurray set the bar high during the evacuation. We were cool, level-headed, caring, and supportive of one another. As we all head back into town we need to make a conscious choice of who we want to be in this situation; what we want to stand for and what we want to represent. 

I personally choose to be loving; supportive of my staff and community; strong, and calm. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day; the raw emotions, the fatigue from clean up, and the fear of the unknown. There’s so much unknown that endless questions can swirl around in your head. What will happen to Fort McMurray? Will the town be ok? Will the businesses be ok?  Will property value go down? Will it go up? Will I get sick from the smoke smell in the air?  Will insurance cover my entire claim? What will I have to do to make my studio operate again? Will I have staff to work in my studio?  These are just a few questions going on in my head, and I’m sure the list is endless for you too.

When these questions start filling up your thoughts and you can’t seem to let go of the fear, just stop, take a step back and assess the situation. When you feel overwhelmed, anxious, teary eyed and upset, I want you to take some deep, slow breaths – maybe even roll out your yoga mat and run through a few sun salutations; linking your breath to movement. If you don’t know sun salutations, just sit down on your mat or in the grass and meditate. Calm your mind, take some deep breaths and try to relax.  I want you to think about the intention you want to set for yourself. Who you do want to be? What do you want to stand for? What do you want to represent?  The only thing we control in any situation is who WE ARE. 

Fort McMurray, we are in this together. We will rebuild. We will come back even stronger than ever before. And it all starts with you. We can’t do this alone; we have to unite. We have to care. We have to lend a helping hand, and sometimes even a nice big hug!  I can’t wait to get my studio up and running again; to see your smiling faces, share some much-needed workouts with you, and to help create a space where we all feel welcome again.