Usually things aren’t as good, or as bad as we think.  Better to know the truth when it comes to small business because most of us aren’t operating with a lot of back up resources when things go awry.

This month, we welcome guest contributor Ava Taylor as she launches her new series, REAL TALK.  Ava is an avid yogi, a creative entrepreneur and the Founder and Chief Catalyst at YAMA Talent a global talent consulting group. Since 2010, YAMA has collaborated with an extremely high caliber of clientele and pioneered the development of the business models of booking, management & consulting in the yoga space, as well as creating and instituting a professional infrastructure to support the growth of the previously ‘mom and pop’ yoga industry. In addition, YAMA has collaborated on the the annual Yoga Garden at The White House and both of the world’s largest yoga classes.

Committed to running an ethics-based business, her personal mission is to be a Catalyst for Better Living and to bring the tools of wellness to communities of all kinds. She accomplishes this goal by providing business structure, guidance and opportunity to support the missions and messages of her clients. Ava believes in a future where being healthy is the ultimate in cool, and that every yoga business can thrive; YAMA was built from scratch with these beliefs firmly in mind. We are thrilled to share Ava’s insights and depth of experience here with our readers… 

Year End Review…

At the end of the year, after the cookies are all gone, or I’ve hidden them out of sight because I cannot look at them any longer, and the annual January Cleanse begins, I spend the free time I get back from not having any holiday parties to go to, or holiday errands to run, to conduct an annual Year End Review.

As an entrepreneur with daily duties, urgent issues to tend to, team management, client maintenance and weekly/monthly goals (I Hope?) — it becomes difficult to see the forest from the trees for most of us during the course of the calendar year.  We are simply too busy running things on the daily to stop and assess.  If we are lucky, we may have carved out time for quarterly reviews which give us some time to pause to reflect on the big picture.

The real story of the overall health of your organization is told on a 12-month cycle just like, life & taxes.  What better time than these dreary January days?  So, why is a comprehensive view of your business so important? 

For starters, you are able to to properly examine each component of your business individually and to see what real progress was made, not what you THINK happened.  As entrepreneurs, we often tell ourselves stories about our businesses and depending on your personality type, you’re either the entrepreneur that focuses on what’s wrong and that has trouble seeing what is positive & going well; or you’re the entrepreneur with their head in the clouds that thinks things are humming along just fine, when there are actually lots of vital areas for improvement that need to be addressed.

The Year End Review gives you an opportunity to identify and track your failures: what you learned, how to solve these issues, and how to avoid the issues moving forward.  You are conversely also able to identify and track your highlights and successes: what you learned, and how to capitalize on what you want to cultivate more of!  Each component is backed up with a real example and/or real data.  Which gives you a true vantage point, and, the real story.  Usually things aren’t as good, or as bad as we think.  Better to know the truth when it comes to small business because most of us aren’t operating with a lot of back up resources when things go awry.

Speaking of going awry… another huge advantage of the Year End Review is that it allows you to ANTICIPATE and create solutions before things are desperate or to keep momentum in the areas where you are ahead.  There is also something so powerful in seeing things in black & white.  It arms us to make smart and sometimes difficult decisions because we have FACTS in front of us from which to act.  As an entrepreneur I like to keep my tools as simple as possible.  So, here it is, in its simplest form, my

Year End Review:


What Worked

  • Highlights/Successes
  • How to Capitalize

What Did Not Work

  • Failures/Areas of Opportunity
  • What Did We Learn from the Failure?
  • How to Solve/Recommendation

Major Questions to Answer for 2016 / Outstanding Issues to Resolve




Not sure, which areas of your business to review?

Start with the big (4) Strategy (where are you going and why), Marketing (how are you selling your brand and its products?), Operations (examining the business structure itself), Financials (revenue by category, costs), and then break it down into sub components from there.  For example, I place Staff under Operations and New Business Development under Financials. I recommend giving your self a 90-minute session to get it going and then a week to complete.  Other examples and information will come to mind as you begin and you can simply add them to the overview. Then, use this review to take ACTION.

Speaking of staff, let’s take a look at an example of the Year End Review filled out with a common yoga studio scenario…


What Worked

  • Highlights/Successes
  • Completed student survey of suggestions for schedule
  • Two new classes added based on feedback from survey (Absolute Beginners & Restorative)
  • Average class size 25
  • Increased turn over time between classes = better “savasana” and ensured all (most) classes start on time
  • Successfully transitioned the classes of a senior teacher who moved away (had 10 years experience and super good with beginners!)
  • How to Capitalize
  • Ask all teachers for as much advance notification of major shifts to their schedule, so we can continue to get ahead & prepare the community
  • Do survey annually
  • Add turn over time between teacher training/events and class schedule

What Did Not Work

Failures/Areas of Opportunity:

  • Severely below average attendance Tuesday @ 12 & Thursday @ 12 average class size 8
  • Lots of questions at the front desk about the differences btwn the classes on the schedule
  • Conducted the survey “on paper” — was time consuming to process the data
  • Room holds 50, so we are only 50% to capacity on AVG
  • Short on teachers who are pros at beginners classesWhat Did We Learn from the Failure?
  • Need to make information more widely available for the students to access about what each class is and who each class is best for
  • We still have a lot of room for growth!
  • Go digital on the survey this year.
  • Need to speak with teacher of Tuesday / Thursday @ 12 — see what can be done to increase class size with a 90-day check in.How to Solve/Recommendation: 
  • Class Description & Ideal Student Match Chart at front desk, online & maybe add to paper class schedule
  • Need a marketing strategy to fill classes — (See MARKETING)
  • Sign up for digital survey
  • Need more teacher development (both to increase class attendance & get better at dealing with beginners)

Major Questions to Answer for 2017 / Outstanding Issues to Resolve:

  • Are there any other areas where we need teacher development + then what to do about it?
  • Teacher of Tuesday/ Thursday @ 12 has had lowest in attendance for 2 years, we have been “working on it” for 2 years.  May be time to make a big change here.


  • Average class size increased to 30
  • No more picking “up the slack” on the class schedule by teachers above 25
  • Are we ready to add a bonus for reaching certain attendance goals?


  • Ask teacher who moved for their best practices on teaching to absolute beginners, maybe do a virtual workshop for staff — find some way to bring her back in (paid for of course!)
  • Ask teacher with 25+ for their best practices on having high class attendance, do an in studio workshop for staff.


New studio opening in 2017

So, if you are still holding onto something that doesn’t work, or not doubling down on something that is, the Year End Review will help you see the truth and hopefully, to act accordingly.  And, it’s a total bonus, that the black and white also helps you to set goals and direction for the year. Always make new mistakes yogis… Ava


REAL TALK with Ava Taylor copyright YAMA Talent

Ava Taylor, Founder and Chief Catalyst – An avid yogi, and a tenacious, creative entrepreneur with her finger on the pulse of the rapidly expanding yoga industry. Ava is well-connected, in the ‘right place at the right time,’ and the go-to strategist for top professional yoga teachers, studios, and brands looking to increase their relevance in the yoga space.

Ava holds a degree in economics and intercultural communication along with a distinguished resume in high level management and growth expansion at Clear Channel & lululemon athletica. With a clear vision, mission and some good old fashioned chutzpah, Ava was primed to enter the world of entrepreneurship, when she self-funded and self-founded YAMA in 2010.

Lovingly known as the ‘Ari Gold of Yoga,’ Ava is a sought out contributor in the media, and known for having unparalleled market knowledge, the latest in data & trends, as well as tools and techniques to maintain healthy businesses within the yoga space. With a mega-watt smile & infectious energy, she has been featured more than twice in the New York Times, and even landed a few magazine covers of her own! She was recently placed on a short list of influencers by the Yoga Alliance, sits on the Board of Advisors for Z Living TV, and previously on the board of The Lineage Project.