Georgina Burman is among a rising number of people under 30 who’ve bought their own franchise. Here the YogaBellies franchisee explains the benefits of investing in a proven concept, how she overcame her biggest challenge and her plans for 2021
I’m a 29-year-old mum of one and a certified Yogabellies teacher in West Norfolk.
I joined YogaBellies in September 2019 and since then I’ve been actively teaching YogaBellies classes, working around my little boy, Leo, who’s now aged two.
Before joining YogaBellies, I worked in the fashion industry as a full-time garment technologist in London and Asia for around six years. I studied retail buying at university and went on to work for various clothing suppliers and retailers.
It wasn’t until I became pregnant that I decided to change my career path. That’s when I found YogaBellies. I signed onto their training programme while I was on maternity leave and never went back to my previous role. I can honestly say it was the best decision of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world now.
I decided to become a franchisee because it provides you with the opportunity to run your own business with the help and support of a larger company that has a proven formula for success.
While becoming a franchisee requires more investment initially, you get what you pay for in that you’re joining a brand with an established reputation that would take years to build if you were starting out on your own.
When you become a YogaBellies franchisee you get ongoing business support, a mentor, training and access to readymade online systems and tools - everything you need to run a successful, ethical business.
Yogabellies supports and empowers women at pivotal times in their lives, which I absolutely love and feel extremely passionate about.
Well-being is at the centre of what YogaBellies does, not only teaching yoga to women but offering a safe, nurturing place where they can heal and grow their bodies and minds.
Having worked in a job where well-being wasn’t high on the list of priorities, I knew that it had to be in my next adventure. With my passion for yoga and holistic health, YogaBellies instantly felt like the right fit for me. You don’t have to be an experienced yogini, as it’s more about your passion to support women in your local area.
The YogaBellies franchise offers the whole package. They actively support, mentor and guide you on your journey as a franchisee and help you create the business of your dreams.
The best part is when you join you become part of a collective of like-minded women. It’s actually more like a family encouraging and supporting each other in running your business.
I funded the purchase of the franchise with personal savings and finance.
The good thing about YogaBellies is they can provide finance to help you start and grow, which is ideal if you want to start your own franchise, but don’t have the initial capital. This was a major deciding factor for me when becoming a franchisee.
I personally teach all my classes.
I have an accountant who manages my books because I’m useless at all that stuff and want to solely focus on teaching and earning an income. The most I do in this area is update QuickBooks.
On a day-to-day basis, I handle the running of the business, including organising advertising campaigns, processing bookings, dealing with enquiries and posting on my social media.
I didn’t achieve half of what I intended to in 2020, but I’m grateful to still be here, like most small businesses.
I launched my business in January last year and managed three months of teaching before being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, being part of a franchise like YogaBellies meant that everyone came together to support one another. Head office quickly adapted and came up with an online offering, so that we could continue to teach.
Teaching this way put me out of my comfort zone, but I knew I had to do it to protect my business and provide support to my clients during a difficult time. With all the obstacles we’ve faced in 2020, it has been a steep learning curve for many businesses, let alone one that was in its first year of trading.
The biggest benefit of joining a franchise is becoming part of a community of franchisees.
Some have been running their businesses for 10 years, while others, like me, have only been franchisees for a short time and are in need of tips and tricks to help them develop.
For me, one of the main benefits of becoming a YogaBellies franchisee was that you get a mentor and support from other teachers in the network. We’re like one big happy family and offer only positive support and advice when it’s needed, which is important especially in times like these where businesses are having to either close or adapt.
I wouldn’t have made it through the last year if it wasn’t for the support of YogaBellies headquarters, our founder, Cheryl MacDonald, and the other incredible teachers.
The greatest test for me was believing in myself because I’m pretty young compared to your average yoga teacher. In fact, I’m the youngest teacher at YogaBellies.
Initially, it did affect my confidence, but after teaching class after class and getting positive feedback from clients, I quickly realised my age didn’t matter at all, only my knowledge and expertise did.
I imagine my clients are a little surprised when they meet me for the first time in the studio, but no one has ever said anything or walked out the door.
Now I find myself feeling confident and assured. After all, I’m a mother just like my clients, going through the same life challenges, so can relate and support them during their YogaBellies journey as best as I can.
My advice to someone currently researching franchises with a view to becoming a franchisee would be to find out how much support the franchisor provides after the initial training.
You can’t expect a franchisor to run your business for you, but you don’t want to be left in the dark once you’ve completed your training. You ideally want the best possible start to launching your new business in order to make it a success.
For example, YogaBellies offers ‘business goddess’ training, which includes all the need-to-know basics of setting up and running your own business. They also offer ongoing franchise support, which includes regular business reviews to help achieve your business and marketing goals for the next year.
Without the proper support along the way, it’s going to be hard for you to keep your business moving in the right direction and maintaining momentum when times are tough.
At the end of 2020, I focused on a big January launch.
January is typically a busy time of year for YogaBellies, as we usually have an influx of new clients, so I ran an advertising campaign in the lead-up to it and introduced a couple of classes for new mums in my local community.
I’m currently studying to become a fertility yoga teacher with YogaBellies so I can extend my current offering. I’m aiming to complete this before baby number two arrives in March so that I can launch the classes when I return from maternity leave later on in the year.
I’m also studying to become an aromatherapist and once my training is complete I’m planning on topping this up with additional training in prenatal, postnatal and fertility massage therapy so that I can offer additional holistic therapies for women in Norfolk.