In this episode, we hear the story of how Anna Egleston, founder of Above Yoga, transitioned her business from a side hustle to a full-time gig. She is super honest about some of the struggles that she has dealt with since starting her business in 2017, including the fact that she never actually wanted to be a business owner. She enjoyed the security that a “normal” job offered her, but she just couldn’t ignore her passion. So today you’ll get to hear her story of taking that leap of faith during the pandemic.
We discuss what pushed her to finally make the decision to go full time with her retreat business, what she learned after leading her first retreat, and how she’s had to pivot her business during the pandemic to ensure that her guests are well taken care of and feel safe. She also shares her interest in giving back to society, practising inclusivity, sustainability, and community-mindedness.
The reluctant entrepreneur
Anna admits that she never thought she wanted to be an entrepreneur. “I thought that sounded horrible. I thought it sounded scary and unstable. I really liked that I got a paycheck every two weeks,” she says.
However, despite her fears, Anna could not ignore how passionately she felt about her side hustle. “All I wanted to talk about was yoga retreats, and I just couldn’t give my heart and soul to my corporate job anymore.” So, after 3 years of running Above Yoga as a side hustle, she decided to make the leap and go full time.
Lessons learned after leading her first yoga retreat
Anna opted to lead her for retreat in Tulum since it was a location that her potential clients would be familiar with but likely wouldn’t have yet visited. “I felt like I knew it was going to be a good experience,” she says.
She promoted her retreat to her small social media following and a handful of retreat platforms. Slowly, guests began to book. “It would be like a month or two of nothing. And then one or two bookings and then a month or two of nothing,” she remembers.
However, 2 months before departure, the unexpected happened: guests canceled their booking. “it didn’t occur to me that people would cancel, which is laughable because now people have canceled on every single retreat at some point,” she admits.
Since that first experience, she recommends that all retreat businesses assume a high attrition rate. “Even if your quote sold out three months before, those people could [still] cancel.” Additionally, she advises that retreat owners have a clear cancellation policy and include a 10% buffer in their budget in case anything happens.
Hosting retreats during Covid
Anna had to adopt many new protocols in order to safely conduct her yoga retreats in this new post-pandemic world. She buys spare masks for all of her guests, requires that everyone be vaccinated and have good health insurance, and has organised covid testing to be done at the hotel for her guests.
She admits that sometimes it’s difficult to keep everyone happy with the changing environment, but ultimately her main goal is to keep her guests and the people they interact with safe. “I just have a level of ethics that I’m not willing to cross, even if it means I lose money over.”
More from this episode
How covid has disrupted the booking cycle? How does she find and assess the local businesses that she partners with? How she gives back to communities abroad? Tune in to learn more from Anna Egleston of Above Yoga!