A Family Finds Small Business Success by Making Others Healthier

These days, we all want to live a healthier life. But who has the time? Vyda Bielkus and her three sisters do, and they’ve made it their goal to improve the quality of life for clients all over the country. Nearly three years ago, the sisters founded Boston-based Health Yoga Life, a company that offers self-enrichment programs, retreats, workshops and virtual trainings. Inspiration came from their mother, an entrepreneur herself, who instilled an uncommonly tight personal and professional bond in her daughters.

We caught up with Vyda (pictured, top right) to learn more about how this family dynamic helped Health Yoga Life turn into a successful business, and what methods they use to bring in new clients.

What gave you the idea for this business?

About three years ago, my sisters and I faced career transitions in a bad economy. We were raised by an entrepreneurial mother, so we decided to take a chance on ourselves — the perceived payoff far outweighed the risk. We knew we had strategies to help people make healthy changes easily and that we had the skills needed to run a small business, having experienced our mother’s businesses and other start-ups.

What makes us different is that we’re not just a yoga studio here in Boston. We also teach Health Yoga Life Coaching, which supports people when they’re looking to make changes in their lives. By offering online trainings and programs, we’re able to service people globally.

What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

The best thing is that we have some flexibility with our time — though it feels like we are working all the time, since when you own a business, you never stop thinking about it. Although, overall, you can still decide when you might take a day off or spend your time differently. Also, running the business as a family allows us to celebrate the wins together. The other day, the four of us and our mom were all on one of our sister’s living room couches, and there was this moment of awe. We had done it! We created our dream of supporting ourselves through doing work we love to do, together. And because our work has a direct impact on how people feel, it’s very rewarding.

What gets you up and excited in the morning?

What we love is growing our business, because the more we grow our business, the more lives we’re impacting. We’ve all heard the saying “without health you have nothing.” This is so true! Through teaching others yoga, meditation, stress reduction and coaching skills, we’re helping people see that good health is easy to have. It’s poor health that’s hard! We’re changing the paradigm. This excites us. We are on the leading edge of changing healthcare from a disease management business to a disease prevention and health promotion system.

What challenges you and your sisters the most, and how do you handle it?

Anyone who has ever run a small business knows that cash flow is the biggest stress in the first few years. Our ideas sometimes exceed the funds and even the “horsepower” we have available. The first few years are like having a newborn: you won’t sleep, and you will be worried all the time. Luckily, our business has been steadily growing, which keeps making financial decisions easier.

How do you define success?

We define success by how stress-less our and our clients’ lives are. The less stress we have, the more we enjoy life. Luckily, we practice what we preach, so life never feels out of control. We coach each other, we do yoga, we meditate, we eat right, etc. So that is already a big win in our books. Honestly, owning our own wellness business commits us to this luxury. But a healthy lifestyle is not a luxury, but rather a requirement in our minds. Employing more people would also feel like we are meeting with more success. We like sharing our success with others.

What is your family’s secret for making more happen?

Our secret to making more happen is doing things others in our industry aren’t doing. We look for best practices outside our industry and employ those in ours. Also knowing what we need to do, knowing our target — that keeps our energy focused.

What are your favorite marketing channels for spreading the word about Health Yoga Life?

Any marketing channel is important. We are very active on social media as most of our clients are using it. We also generate and create content for our Web site and other well-read blogs, including Huffington Post, BostInno and others geared toward our industry. We create videos and blog posts and give away great, free content. This helps people engage with our brand.

You’ve mentioned your mother is an entrepreneur. How has that impacted your business?

Our mother has had a huge impact on our business. She gave us the push to believe in ourselves. And because of her experience as a Master Executive Coach and successful entrepreneur, she gives the best reality-based advice. But she also taught us the importance of self-care growing up. Because she made time in her life, while running a business and raising a family, to exercise and meditate, we do that for ourselves now. It really is no wonder we have a business in the wellness industry teaching people self-care strategies.

Is there one product or supply you buy at Staples that you just can’t operate your business without?

Large Post-it® notes! We’re talking gigantic, extra-large ones that you can take and stick to a wall. We can’t have a strategy meeting without those large Post-its. Sometimes our office is covered in giant yellow sticky notes.

Ten years from now, where do you see Health Yoga Life?

In 10 years, we will have opened up more privately owned studios and franchised Health Yoga Life studios and will be the place on the Web for people to find educational tools about health, yoga, coaching and self-care. And our offerings will be integrated into the healthcare delivery model.

Do you have a great small business success story? Let us know in the comments section below, and we might feature you in a future article!

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