By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington SBDC
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – When a successful small business Three Trees Yoga was determined to offer classes in the workplace, it had to learn how to attract companies, not individuals, as customers. An ongoing relationship with the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) provided support that the expanding yoga business could rely on.
The new corporate wellness business in South Puget Sound, Work Well NW, offers services that enable employees to learn techniques to increase resilience and reduce burnout in a variety of work environments – from medical offices to machine shops.
“Work Well NW’s goal is to help employees improve their minds and bodies,” said Suzy Green, co-founder of the company. “Through both yoga and mindfulness training, we teach participants how to practice self-care and reduce stress. It’s a proactive approach that goes well beyond working life. “
The classes are based on the work of Jon Kabat Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and are backed by 30 years of clinical research, she said.
Advice eases the way through the recession
Green and her partners Jeni Martinez and Karen Schwisow first opened Three Trees Yoga in 2005 after meeting Maryanne Budlong, SBDC consultant in Des Moines, Washington. In 2008, as the recession pounded businesses across the country, the yoga entrepreneurs met with Zev Siegl, the advisor after Budlong’s resignation.
“The fact that we survived the recession was directly related to our work with Zev,” said Green. “We needed ideas and perspectives from a seasoned business man.”
When Siegl left the SBDC, the owners began to meet with colleague Rich Shockley. The studio has now grown to 25 teachers who teach 40 classes each week. In addition, Three Tree Yoga offers both a 200-hour and a 300-hour yoga teacher training program.
The Washington SBDC (http://wsbdc.org/) is a network of more than two dozen certified business consultants who work in communities across the state to help business owners start, grow, or transition a business. Founded in Washington more than 35 years ago, the SBDC is supported by Washington State University, the US Small Business Administration, and other higher education and economic development colleges. The Des Moines SBDC Center is located at and is supported by Highline College.
Advisory board, advanced training points
Three Trees Yoga’s decades of experience with the SBDC has added value to working with professional business consultants, Green said.
“When we started talking about developing Work Well NW, our first stop was a consultation with Rich,” she said. “We had a vision and a couple of clients, but not really a plan.
“The three of us are really proficient at teaching, but we don’t always love to put our business hats on,” she said, but Shockley helps them: “We never leave his office without at least three great ideas, three promotional items and renewed focus and energy for our companies. “
Green said the advice from SBDC was key to her decision to set up a health professional advisory board for Work Well NW. Shockley also helped them create a marketing plan and encouraged them to attend Work Well NW workshops that were accredited by the relevant governing bodies so that attendees could earn Continuing Education (CE) points.
Work Well NW started with a few courses at a local hospital in 2014 and has grown to nearly 20 courses per week in a variety of companies.
“We know we are on the right track because the clients we have established so far have renewed their yoga and mindfulness course contracts multiple times,” said Green. “The feedback they have received from their staff about the benefits they are experiencing through yoga at work has been very positive.”
Suzy Green, Co-Founder of Work Well NW, Suzanne@WorkWellNW.com