Every Body Yoga of Manatee County
Holly Dunn and Stephen Boyes were working their respective full-time jobs when they noticed an interesting impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on their community. Because of COVID-19 people were forced to bring fitness into their home space and were now reluctant to join in on in-person activities and fitness classes. That’s when Dunn and Boyes decided to open their own inclusive yoga studio; one that would encourage people of all types to be in-person and get active.
“The studio, along with its name, represents that yoga really is for everybody,” Dunn said. “What we’re trying to do is bring people together here, people who wouldn’t think that yoga is for them, and introduce them to the community so they keep coming back. The benefits from yoga are clear for everybody. We really do have a community focus. We are also very interested in making yoga more accessible. We’ve thought about that in terms of our location, the classes we’re offering, and [we] try to provide an open and welcoming experience for everybody, even newcomers.”
After they decided to put their idea into action, they immediately started searching for resources that could help them build the business. Dunn and Boyes, both still working their full-time jobs and having little start-up business background, stumbled across the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida, online.
They reached out for help and were paired with consultant Bradley Mix, a business consultant at the Florida SBDC at USF. From there Mix was able to guide them through the foundational aspects of the business, helping with budgeting, financial planning, business and strategic planning, and marketing, prior to the opening the business.
“Something else that’s a little unique about our business is that we both kept our day jobs,” Boyes said. “Having Brad’s help and the Florida SBDC at USF’s help in thinking through how we can self-fund a business and keep our day jobs was really critical. I don’t think we would have been able to do this if they hadn’t helped us through that problem-solving process.”
COVID-19 caused a shift in the fitness world, especially for newly opening fitness centers due to customer uncertainty. However, Dunn, Boyes, and Mix worked on targeting the community with marketing strategies and expressing the importance of coming together in the form of fitness to build up a greater community.
“We’re not just helping people come to fitness, but we are helping people start fitness again,” Boyes said. “On top of that, you add the current economic uncertainty of different supply chain issues, wars going on, and inflation and gas, and people are making hard decisions about where to spend their money. The value proposition has shifted dramatically in the last 18 months, so getting someone to come do yoga during this time is really about showing them what they can do here that they can’t do at home. That really does revolve around community.”
After laying a foundation with the help of the Florida SBDC at USF and Mix, the new business owners plan to continue utilizing the services at the center. The next step is to focus on their marketing and social media presence.
“A big piece of growing our business and the work that we’re going to do with the Florida SBDC at USF is showing through our website and social media that people are here at the studio doing yoga in-person, and having their goals for yoga actualized here,” Boyes said.
“When other people see that, they will want to become a client as well. Our work with the Florida SBDC at USF and our future is about not getting the business started but showing people the business is here and that they can join us in their goals as we move forward.”