Doing business is ultimately a personal affair. At the end of the day, you’re essentially looking to solve a problem someone is facing. Of course, these dilemmas range from not finding the right pin to put on your backpack to not having time to cook to dealing with insurance if your building burns down.
But they all have one thing in common, and that’s the fact that businesses (in their purest sense) help people do things they struggle to do on their own. And few entrepreneurs are tasked with more deeply personal dilemmas than health and wellness professionals.
Taking this one step further, those who enter the field as mindfulness and meditation coaches are even more deeply involved with the inner working of their clients. This in itself presents a unique issue:
How does one go about running business built on one’s own authenticity and compassion for others? Because in many ways, the “product” you are selling is, well, you.
We checked in once more with Amanda Gilbert, a mindfulness and meditation instructor living in Los Angeles to see what she had to say. If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to go back and check out our posts about practicing self care in the workplace and mindful conflict resolution.
Keep it Real
The first thing that Gilbert says to have in mind when entering the mindfulness and meditation field is to be authentic and be yourself.
“It’s about creating your own voice as you share practices that have already been helping people for thousands and thousands of years,” Gilbert says. “It’s about sharing and being a teacher and coach from your own direct experience in your practice, and how mindfulness and meditation have helped you in your own life.”
These days, people’s bullshit detectors are finely tuned, and if you aren’t coming from an authentic place, it’s pretty easy to sniff that out.
“It’s really about coming from a place of sharing, not selling,” she says. “Selling doesn’t work in health and wellness. Selling is for other fields I think. Health and wellness is all about sharing and putting yourself out there in an open and accessible way.”
Trust the Process
Mindfulness and meditation is a unique field, because it’s centered around both the practitioners and the clients placing themselves in emotionally open places. To this point, GIlbert urges those interested in getting into this business to trust that as long as they stay true to their mission of helping people and don’t give up, good things will happen.
“There will be many moments where you put yourself in very vulnerable places, and you will wonder if this will work out and if people will be ready for these offerings. And if you are authentically being who you are and really teaching from a place of sharing practices that have helped you in your own life, then people will find you,” she says. “You just have to trust that the right students and clients will find you, and that you will in turn be right for them.”
And while this might sound like wishful thinking to some, it comes back to a matter of staying authentic, and the fact that by doing so you are really just holding your “product” (yourself) to a high standard of quality — something necessary for success in any entrepreneurial endeavor.
A Matter of the Bill and Radical Accessibility
One issue that inevitably comes up when building an authentic and personal bond with someone is the potentially awkward moment when money is brought into the picture. However, Gilbert urges people to not let that get in the way, and that if you have done your due diligence and taken your training and commitment to the practice seriously, people will gladly pay for your services.
“People want to feel solid ground and a trustful resource coming from you as a provider, so putting a price on a service, whether it’s a one hour coaching session or bringing your practice into a corporate environment, people feel better when there is a monetary value assigned to this,” Gilbert says.
However, she also points out that it’s important in this field to be open to providing your services to those who can’t necessarily afford your services.
“It’s everyone’s birthright to feel good and have a life full of well-being. Sometimes certain practitioners get too caught up in the idea that they should always, always be charging for their services and they can forget that meditation is a practice for human beings,” she says, pointing out that if one is authentically offering services to populations that can’t necessarily afford them, this often balances itself out by attracting other clients who can. This willingness will level the playing field.
“There’s a term being coined in the mindfulness world, ‘Radical Accessibility,’ specifically by Diana Winston at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, who’s really been a trailblazer in this movement for health and wellness professionals to be OK with giving these practices to people who can’t afford them. At the end of the day, it’s part of being a teacher, and it’s part of being a guide.”