Entrepreneur Spotlight: Lauren Plagens Young, co-owner at 3 Sisters Yoga
By Bill Baraona, founder & videographer at Flex Media
It’s a new year and that means it’s time to make a change! Maybe you want to hit that fitness goal, maybe it’s time to ask for that promotion, or maybe it's time to take that huge leap of faith and bet everything on yourself and your skills and become an entrepreneur.
The number of startups has been steadily rising since 2004, and the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting over 32 million small-to-medium size businesses in the U.S. How do you grow your business and not become another failed startup statistic? If you talk to business owners, you may find multiple ways to help you answer that question.
As an entrepreneur myself, one thing I find helpful is to talk to different successful entrepreneurs and try to learn something from each of them. I had the opportunity to catch up with YP entrepreneur Lauren Plagens Young, co-owner at 3 Sisters Yoga in Avon, Ohio. Lauren shared with us her experience starting her own business and what advice she has for current and aspiring YP entrepreneurs.
Can you describe 3 Sisters Yoga for people who may have never been there?
3 Sisters Yoga is a yoga and fitness studio in Avon, Ohio, We offer 30 classes per week. More so than just a Yoga and fitness studio, we refer to our business as a community. It's a place for people to meet, make new friends and feel better about their health and overall life.
What made you want to start your own business?
I worked in corporate America in sales in a regular 9-to-5 job. I really just wanted a big life change and to do something with my sisters. We have a strong sister bond and we all loved yoga so starting 3 Sisters Yoga seemed like a natural fit.
Can you describe your experience with starting the business?
Opening a small business definitely comes with a lot of excitement and challenges, as well. Finding an investor was an early challenge for us. We eventually received money from a close family friend and our dad. Once we secured funding, the immediate next challenge was how we were going to best spend this money. How are we going to build out our space to welcome customers? What do we need to do next?
In the beginning, it really felt like moving from one challenge to the next. It still feels that way. When I say challenge, I mean it in the most positive way. It’s not to say the challenge can’t be worked through or overcome. I find a lot of fun in every day of owning and operating a business. Not every day is awesome, every job has its ups, downs, and difficulties, but most days I’m still really charged up!
What is one piece of business advice when starting a business?
Take the challenges day by day. Don't try to tackle everything at once. Stay focused on your end goal and ask yourself, what do I need to do TODAY to head towards that goal.
Did you have prior business experience?
I had not opened any other business, but did approach my sales job in corporate America as if it were my own business. I was in charge all of the customers that I had sold. I made it a practice to take ownership and accountability in my prior job. I treated it like it was my own little empire. I think that can be helpful in any job, to really take ownership and accountability for your results.
What were some of your greatest obstacles?
One of my biggest obstacles was being patient with how things unfolded. We only had so much control over when we were going to open because we were reliant on contractors. I had to balance learning to be patient, while still keeping things moving ahead.
Another obstacle I faced was learning to manage people, which I had not done before. I have learned to have critical conversations with staff members. For example, discussing negative feedback from a student or needing to let a staff member go - those can be tough conversations. I want to be very loving, kind, and human in those conversations. It's delicate. I have had to learn how to be a leader - it's a balance of leading with kindness and still taking necessary action steps to help move our business forward.
What are some resources you found most helpful when starting your business?
Here are three things we did:
1. Ask someone who’s done it. We reached out to other boutique fitness and yoga studio owners. If you have a hard time getting a hold of someone, keep asking! Most people like to share their experiences and help others. Adding to that, I want to say that now I want to return the favor and pay it forward for anyone else who would want to go into this business. If you are looking to open a yoga or fitness studio, reach out to us and we would be more than happy to share our experience!
2. My sister, Courtney, just completed The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business course and that has introduced us to new people that have expertise in specific areas we haven't spent much time on up until now, such as digital media. This has allowed us to improve things that we have already built. Continuing to stay current is a continual process of trying to improve what you've built.
3. Attend industry conferences for inspiration and advice. One that I found helpful was a two-day conference called MindBody University. It's specific to the health, wellness, and fitness industry. It was great getting an opportunity to learn new things and to meet other people in the industry that have the same challenges.
What other advice would you give to a YP who is thinking of starting his or her own business?
Do it! If you value flexibility, owning your own results, and want freedom in your schedule, there is no better path.
Try to only focus on a couple things at once. It can be overwhelming if you try to focus on everything. There will always be multiple things going on that could demand your attention; learn to focus on what is the current priority.
Lastly, I would encourage YPs to reach out to people that inspire them. Don’t let rejection by one person or program stop you. Let it fuel you and be the gas in your tank that pushes you towards whatever you want to achieve.
Whatʼs the best part about your business and what you do?
The best part about owning a yoga studio is that people feel better after they visit. The ability to impact someone's day-to-day life feels like an honor and a gift to me.
What’s new in 2019 for 3 Sisters Yoga?
Growth, growth, growth! We are focused on adding new classes like Yoga/Cardio fusion, Slowburn, Kids Yoga, and Retreats! We expect to add more offerings and continue to do what we do best: allow people to transform, evolve and connect!
Bill Baraona is the founder and owner of Flex Media, a digital marketing company that specializes in video production. Bill grew up on the southwest side of Cleveland in North Royalton and currently resides in Parma where he and his wife Jackie founded and run Young Professionals of Parma. Bill loves spending time at the Lake Erie shores and islands and trying local craft beer, coffee, and new restaurants in CLE.