Know When to Expand

Elana Essers had always been drawn to dance. Enamored by movement, she enrolled in Cal State University Long Beach working toward her B.S. in Dance Medicine. It was then she discovered a new art form that would later change her life: Pilates. She earned her Pilates teaching credentials and eventually grew tired of working for someone else. After the coaxing of her husband and with no prior experience, Elana eventually took on the ultimate challenge of opening her own studio. It was then she learned the pains of growing too fast, too soon.

In 2003, Elana began looking for a space to open her new studio. She eventually found a 700-square-foot room in a strip mall for lease, and decided to apply. “I remember where I was when I got the phone call. I was going north on the [Interstate] 405 just before it merges with the 5 and my phone rang. I couldn’t believe it. I got the space!”

After a couple of years in her first place, another room in the same mall opened up—almost double the size. “I remember having a meeting with my instructors because more space meant a three-year lease, and I was going to need everyone to step up their game. That should have been the first sign to me that I wasn’t ready to expand. I made the decision based off excitement, rather than data, because at the time I didn’t really have the data.”

The decision to grow too fast, too soon cost Elana hefty penalties after having to break her three-year lease. “If you have more members than you can handle, expanding is probably the answer, but growing just because you want more space isn’t a good idea.” Elana had learned her lesson and quickly searched for a new building she could afford. She eventually found her current location, where she’s happy and feels like part of a community. “I like that I’m close to the downtown district. They have parades, farmer’s market, Halloween celebrations and host a bunch of other events.”

Now, with over ten years experience running her own studio—In Perfect Balance—Elana has never made the mistake of expanding too soon again. “I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to run a successful studio, like when to grow and when not to. Since signing up with MINDBODY, I haven’t looked back. It’s very intuitive and keeps track of everything, so when it comes to making decisions about my business, I have the information I need.”

Elana’s next item on the agenda is to teach others her trade and ultimately build a community of instructors who can encourage and support each other. “I have the opportunity to create a Pilates educational center where I can offer classes and workshops to train teachers and share what I’ve learned with them. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without the help of MINDBODY.”

This blog post is the tenth in our series opening and managing a business. Read the other posts in our series here.

For more tips on how to manage your business, visit our resources page.