Entrepreneurs chat transcript: Deena Blumenfeld of Shining Light Prenatal Education Center

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Kim Lyons: OK I see there are a few people in the queue, so we can get started

Kim Lyons: Thanks for joining us today! We're talking entrepreneurship and niche businesses with Deena Blumenfeld of Shining Light Prenatal Education center

Deena Blumenfeld: Hello everyone. I'm so glad to be here today.

Kim Lyons: Here's the story from today's PG http: //www.post-gazette.com...

Kim Lyons: I'm going to open it up for questions now, if you're ready to roll, Deena

Deena Blumenfeld: I'm ready when you are, Kim.

Rosemary: hi thanks for having this chat I am hoping to learn a little more about starting a business

Kim Lyons: Hi Rosemary

Deena Blumenfeld: Sure, Rosemary, do you have a specific question in mind?

Rosemary: when did you decide you had to have your own space, were you teaching classes before you moved to lawrencville?

Deena Blumenfeld: I was teaching my prenatal, and other yoga classes out of a number of other studios around Pittsburgh for a few years before I decided to open my own space. I was also teaching my childbirth ed. classes from my home

Deena Blumenfeld: It took a year of business planning before I was ready to start searching for a space

Rosemary: I am still in training but would love to have my own studio some day

smiltz19: Hi Deena what business do you own?

Deena Blumenfeld: Owning your own studio is a lot of work! I spend more time on my business, than I do teaching - Rosemary

Deena Blumenfeld: smiltz19 - I own Shining Light Prenatal Education in Lawrenceville

connie: To Deena: I read in the article that you had a hard time getting start up, did you ever look at trying to find money for women owned businesses?

connie: *start up money I meant

smiltz19: Awesome good luck honey

connie: I wouldn't know where to start but is that an option?

Deena Blumenfeld: Connie - good question! I didn't specifically seek start-up capital from folks who specialize in women owned businesses.... hindsight, I probably should have!

Deena Blumenfeld: Connie - what kind of business are you looking to open?connie: don't laugh! I am thinking of a doggie day care

Deena Blumenfeld: There are quite a few places to get funding, or assistance finding funding. I worked with the Duquesne Univ. Small business center. They were amazing (and free!) help

connie: I would like to take my love for animals and try to do something positive with it

Deena Blumenfeld: Doggie day cares are needed!!

Erin: Have you found support from other Women-owned businesses in Lawrenceville, as well as Pittsburgh in general?

Deena Blumenfeld: As with my business, everything starts with something we are passionate about.

connie: so true!

Deena Blumenfeld: Erin - Yes! The women business owners in L-ville and around Pgh have been wonderful support. I network with women's business groups often

Kim Lyons: Deena when we spoke, you mentioned that you thought Lawrencville really fit your business, and Maya Henry agreed-- how has that worked out?

Deena Blumenfeld: The Lawrenceville business community has been warm and welcoming.

smiltz19: That's true @ doggie daycare

Deena Blumenfeld: It's a great group of people who all want to see the city improve and we support each other

richard: Deena do you ever do yoga sessions for new dads? What would you recommend we get stressed too : )

Deena Blumenfeld: Maya at the Lawrenceville corp. was instrumental in my start-up and she continutes to help promote and support my business

Deena Blumenfeld: Richard ~ I love having new dads in class! We just hosted a Family Yoga class last weekend

richard: do you repeat those ofteN

Deena Blumenfeld: If there's enough interest, I'd be happy to have a dad-only yoga class too!

Deena Blumenfeld: Family Yoga - about every 6 weeks. I'm still waiting to hear back from my instructor for the next date. It'll be on a Sunday afternoon

Kim Lyons: Richard here's the link to the schedule: http: //shininglightprenatal...

Kim Lyons: Deena one thing we didn't get to talk about too much in the article was social media

Deena Blumenfeld: I'm not sure it's possible to do business without social media!

Kim Lyons: You would be suprised!

Kim Lyons: But I agree

Deena Blumenfeld: True : -)

Kim Lyons: How do you manage to fit it into your schedule

Kim Lyons: I knoiw a lot of people complain it is a time suck

Deena Blumenfeld: Shining Light is on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pintrest, G+....

Kim Lyons: with all the other things you have to do to run your business

Deena Blumenfeld: Oh it is a huge time suck! For some of it I schedule posts with Hootsuite. Other things are spur of the moment like articles I read, etc.

Deena Blumenfeld: I just recently hired a social media manager since it's been taking so much of my time

Kim Lyons: sounds like a smart investment

Guest: Hi Deena, Do you do speaking engagements regarding yoga, prenatal care, etc?

Deena Blumenfeld: She and I work together to determine the marketing plan for the week and then she does the lion's share of the work

Deena Blumenfeld: Guest - Yes! I do speaking engagements. Let me dig up a link for you...

Kim Lyons: Guest, if you want to send along your email address we can connect you

Deena Blumenfeld: http: //deenablumenfeld.info...

Deena Blumenfeld: I am working out the logistics for the Lamaze conference in the fall. I'll be hosting 2 sessions there this year

Donna M.: I have been doing yoga on and off for a few years and am wondering now that I am expecting whether I should continue

Donna M.: Is it okay to go to my usual yoga class or should I try to go to one for pregnant women

Donna M.: thank you for taking my question!

Deena Blumenfeld: Donna - good question! As long as you aren't practicing "hot" yoga, you should be fine. There are some modifications you can make to a "regular" yoga class to make it more appropriate for your pregnancy. However, in a prenatal yoga class, you will have a class tailored to your body and be there with a group of other pregnant moms.

Deena Blumenfeld: So, you can switch over to a prenatal class whenever you are ready. There is no "right" time, but I find that most women join us for prenatal yoga sometime around 8-17 weeks

Donna M.: we just found out I am having twins, are there any special concerns there?

Kim Lyons: wow congratulations, Donna

Kim Lyons: (and good luck!)

Deena Blumenfeld: Oh, congrats! Twins are fun!
My last twin mama came to class for the last time 6 days before she gave birth.
You'll want to check in with your OB regarding any complications, but usually you are fine to come to prenatal yoga

Donna M.: Okay thank you so much!

Deena Blumenfeld: Donna, you can also email me - info@shininglightprenatal.com and we can chat more specifically about your pregnancy : -)

Kim Lyons: We have a question more on the business side of things next:

Erin: What are your favorite tools for staying organized as a business owner? (i.e. finances, paperwork, schedules etc.)

Kim Lyons: (That would be the hardest part for me... organizing)

Deena Blumenfeld: Erin ~ Since Shining light offers many classes and workshops, I use MindBody software. It does all my class scheduling, private sessions, payroll, reports etc.
I also live by my Google calendar!

Deena Blumenfeld: I do have an accountant, because I'd never be able to deal with the taxes, etc on my own

Kim Lyons: that's a good follow up q, actually

Kim Lyons: what things do you absolutely have to outsource

Deena Blumenfeld: Outsource - the taxes for me were #1. I also hired a web designer and graphic designer

Deena Blumenfeld: it's a matter of knowing what you are good at, what you like to do and where you fall short

Kim Lyons: Also agree with you re: Google calendar.

Deena Blumenfeld: I see it as the time value of money. Is my time better spent tinkering with a website, or designing a new class?

Deena Blumenfeld: What is my best ROI?

Kim Lyons: do you apply that philosophy to which classes you teach, as well? I know we talked about how you have other instructors you work with at Shining Light...

Kim Lyons: ... is there one class that you feel most comfortable teaching?

Deena Blumenfeld: Outsourcing that which I don't enjoy and that which I'm not good at, frees up time to build the business in the best ways I can

Deena Blumenfeld: Kim - yes - I do apply that to the classes we offer. Some classes are big ROI, some are small, but have other intrinsic value and others were a nice try but we won't offer them again

Deena Blumenfeld: It's tough to pick one class I like to teach the most... Confident Birthing (Lamaze), Breastfeeding Essentials, Infant Care and Prenatal Yoga would be my top 4

Deena Blumenfeld: That pic was our Prenatal yoga class last Thurs

Kim Lyons: How do you modify that pose for the would be moms (triangle?)

Kim Lyons: (I have not been to a yoga class in a while, shame on me)

Deena Blumenfeld: Modifications depend on the individual and where the area of need is. That said, a block under the hand, or a chair under the hand will usually create enough space so the yogi doesn't feel 'stuck' in the pose

Melissa: Deena do you ever partner with doulas for any services?

Kim Lyons: (and could you explain briefly what a doula is for those in the chat that may not be familiar)

Deena Blumenfeld: Melissa ~ I do! I love doulas. Most of the Pgh area doulas and I have a great referral relationship. I attend very few births (business, 2 kids...) so I refer my students to those who can support them

Deena Blumenfeld: A doula is a professional labor assistant. So she's not a doctor or nurse. Her job is comfort techniques - postures, massage, feeding of mom (and dad!), etc. They are well worth it. Having a doula at a birth can reduce the risk of c-section by 24%!

Melissa: I have thought about using a doula for my next delivery because I felt overwhelmed during my daughteer's delivery

Melissa: I have heard good things

Deena Blumenfeld: Melissa ~ There is always a lot that goes on during birth. it is helpful to have that constant support and have someone who can translate medical speak into English. If you are looking for a referral, do email me. I can hook you up

Kim Lyons: Next question is about fertility yoga...

EGinPGH: I see that you also offer a Fertility Yoga class. When is the right time to consider Fertility Yoga?

Deena Blumenfeld: EGinPGH - The short answer is when you are ready to begin trying to conceive. It's a class for anyone who is ready to have a baby, as well as those struggling with infertility issues

Deena Blumenfeld: We have a focus on opening and relaxation in the Fertility yoga class

Deena Blumenfeld: That class starts the first Monday in April

EGinPGH: Thanks!!

NicholeD.: are you planning to open any other yoga studios we could really use one in the south hills!

Deena Blumenfeld: NicholeD - it's in my 5 yr plan, to open a 2nd location in either the S. Hills or N Hills... if I'm lucky it will be both!

NicholeD.: great to hear good luck!!!!

Deena Blumenfeld: Thanks!

Julie and Ryans Mom: Hi Deena I had a question about mommy and me yoga

Deena Blumenfeld: Here's a fun tidbit - we have students who come for our childbirth classes (Confident Birthing) from as far away as Greensburgh, Youngstown and Wheeling

Deena Blumenfeld: Julie and Ryan's mom - I'm ready! ask away

Julie and Ryans Mom: are there any special poses you can do at home with your baby/toddler? Sometimes it is hard to get out of the house to a class

Deena Blumenfeld: Julie and Ryans Mom - yes, there are a number of things you can do at home with your baby/toddler if you can't get out. 2 of my favorite books are "Itsy Bitsy yoga" by Helen Garabedien (sp?) and Baby OM

Kim Lyons: http: //www.amazon.com/Itsy-...

Deena Blumenfeld: I'm working on some videos now for our youtube channel. I have intention of putting out some Mommy & Me poses, etc, Look for them soon!

lori s.: I have never done yoga before is it okay for me to start during pregnancy or should I wait until after the baby is born. Thank you.

Deena Blumenfeld: Lori - a full 1/2 - 2/3 of our prenatal yoga students have never done yoga before coming to a prenatal yoga class. You should come. It's good for your body to help get you ready for labor as well as to help you de-stress. I'd love to see you in class

Kim Lyons: For Julie and Ryans Mom: Link to the Shining Light YouTube channel: http: //www.youtube.com/chan...

Deena Blumenfeld: Lori - do make sure that the class you attend is prenatal specific since you are new to yoga.

Julie and Ryans Mom: thanks so much!

Deena Blumenfeld: Julie and Ryans Mom - any time!

lori s.: okay thank you very much good advise!

Kim Lyons: Deena when you were first starting your business, was there one thing you wish you had done differently?

Kim Lyons: In terms of business planning or seeking help?

Deena Blumenfeld: Lori - this was a post I wrote a while ago on choosing a prenatal yoga class. that might help too http: //givingbirthwithconfi...

lori s.: thank you!!!!

Deena Blumenfeld: hmmm... one thing I wish I had done differently... I wish I'd had the help of a partner, or I had started off the bat with the web designer, social media consultant, accountant, etc. I tried to do it all myself and I didn't sleep for months!

Kim Lyons: I believe that is an all-too-common complaint among entrepreneurs!

Kim Lyons: But that must be tough, to cede some control over your vision for your company

Kim Lyons: even if you know it's for the best

Deena Blumenfeld: True enough. It goes back to that time value of money. When starting up, there is very little money to go around and a lot of hope that you'll make enough to get by. I think it comes down to getting more startup capital

Deena Blumenfeld: Agreed! It is tough to cede control over to other people. I'm a type-A personality, so I like to be able to keep a tight reign on my business. But some of what I learned is that to grow, I need to trust a bit in the skills of others who can help me succeed

Kim Lyons: I have one more question from a pregnant lady (who have been really great today, thank you!)

Deena Blumenfeld: Sure!

Kim Lyons: Oops, actually this is a lady who isn't pregnant

Natalie: Deena do you think prenatal yoga might be good for someone who needs to go a little slower but is not pregnant

Natalie: I am not in the greatest shape and get a little discouraged trying to take a regular yoga class

Deena Blumenfeld: Natalie ~ That is a good question. Maybe. There are other classes, "gentle" or "restorative" yoga classes that might be more suitable.

Since prenatal is pregnancy focused we do talk about labor and birth in class a bit.

Natalie: that would not bother me. I am not squeamish : )

Deena Blumenfeld: I'd refer you to Schoolhouse or Sterling Yoga since they offer gentle and restorative classes. both would be good for you.

If you want to try a prenatal class and see if it's a good fit for you, you are welcome to. We also have a postnatal class that might be a good fit as well

Natalie: okay thank you I have not tried those places I will check them out

Kim Lyons: Deena I will let you get the last word today

Deena Blumenfeld: No problem! I'd like to see you find a class, since there are yoga classes out there for every one, regardless of skill level or fitness.

Kim Lyons: What is the first thing someone starting a niche business should consdier?

Kim Lyons: We talked a little about finances-- that must be near the top of the list

Deena Blumenfeld: Who is my ideal client? And how do I market to them. As a niche business it can be tough to get a toehold, but if you know exactly to whom you are marketing success will come

Kim Lyons: Great advice.

Kim Lyons: Thanks so much for joining us today, Deena, so glad I went to that networking event where we met!

Deena Blumenfeld: yes - everything is more expensive than you think it is. You also have to figure out how you are going to pay yourself while business gets going

Kim Lyons: ooh yes, paying yourself... people often forget that!

Deena Blumenfeld: Me too, Kim. So glad we me! Thank you for having me today!

Kim Lyons: Thanks to everyone who asked questions, great chat today!

Kim Lyons: Shining Light Prenatal Education is here: http: //shininglightprenatal...

Deena Blumenfeld: Indeed. Do come check us out on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Namaste!

Kim Lyons: check it out for more info

Kim Lyons: thanks Deena. Namaste!

Deena Blumenfeld: Thanks Kim!

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