Do you have a unique selling proposition (USP)?

Defined by Entrepreneur as “the factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition,” it’s a good thing to know what your USP is for your studio. If you know your value and what makes you different, it’s easier to share that with potential students.

Molly Masaoka, the owner of Yoga Centered Studio, School and Boutique in Hilo, Hawaii, dove into how her business sets itself apart:

MS: How do you define your studio in terms of how it stands out from the rest? How are you different?

MM: Being 100 percent authentic, consistent and neutral in both our approach to yoga and the business of yoga is what sets us apart. We’re not trying to prove anything or compete with anybody or promote the latest trend or “craze” here. We create yoga for every age, every type, every body no matter what their skill set. It may not be the most popular or lucrative approach to running a yoga studio, but we are in the business of caring and supporting our clientele, not our bottom line.

This principle has always stood the test of time. We’ve been in business 16 years now, which is no easy feat. We have a variety of classes all day, every day with great teachers and staff who stick around and practice at the studio with the students. They are non-dogmatic, kind, compassionate people who make connections with everyone who walks in the door and have a genuine love of yoga. We keep the space itself clean and tidy, open and inviting.

MS: How do you let the surrounding community know you’re different?

MM: To be perfectly honest, I am over marketing. I’ve been there, done that and it’s just not me. Social has its place, especially when it comes to selling the amazing fashion we are always bringing into the community, but I’ve come to realize our yoga speaks for itself. Word of mouth, personal recommendations and the level of quality, consistency and professionalism have had a far greater impact on our students and our community as a whole that an entire year’s worth of posts put together. Just like Patanjali says in YS 1.12 Abhyasa, vairagyabhyam, nirodhah: “Both practice and non-attachment are key for quieting the mind,” or in this case, being successful on many different levels. My goal is and always has been to inspire people both off and on the mat, and to ultimately let the lessons of yoga seep into all aspects of our lives, business included.

MS: Why is being unique and owning that uniqueness a key to success for your studio?

MM: I believe having a positive attitude of abundance and gratitude is key for keeping the studio’s vibe high. I also believe in simply being authentic. You don’t’ have to brand or create an image for your studio. People connect with honesty and grace first and foremost. These qualities are far more important to all of us inside and outside of the studio than what’s next or what’s hip or what’s cool. Yoga is timeless. Authenticity is timeless. It doesn’t need to be defined.

MS: What do you tell new prospects the first time they walk in the door about your studio?

MM: Unless you’re a yogi – whatever that means – walking into a yoga studio can be downright scary. We understand this and just like our classes, we go out of our way to de-mystify the entire process. Anybody and everybody is welcome; no matter what level or type we are teaching, we always have the newcomer in mind. We also make it a point to create a gorgeous, beautiful and sophisticated environment akin to a studio you’d find in a big city because that’s just the way we roll. We love style. We love fashion. We love curating! But most of all we love the sense of joy that comes from turning a “never-ever” into a “never-ever-miss-a-class” student. The only way to do this, again, comes down to total honesty, humility and levity, meaning we try not to take ourselves too seriously.

MS: How do you educate your staff and teachers on what makes Yoga Centered unique so they can tell others?

MM: I teach and lead by example, from my heart, rather than by some kind of rulebook or business platform. I do my best to inspire my staff and teachers to do the same, to share their unique and special gifts each and every day. I’m not one for micromanaging, and in turn, the teachers here at Yoga Centered feel deeply connected and part of the studio. They don’t just come here to teach; they too feel this is their community, which gives them a vested interest in developing and maintaining relationships with each other and our clients.