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Silent retreats give people a chance to disconnect from their hectic worlds by providing them with a peaceful place to commune with themselves. Guests are discouraged not only from talking but from making eye contact with one another. Silent retreats typically provide classes, meals, and reading materials to structure the guests' time. Retreats serve to get people back in touch with themselves so they can be more effective when they return to their real life.
Who is this business right for?
This business is good for someone who understands and cares about the effects that the modern culture has on the brain. They should have an innate respect and talent for meditation and other types of holistic therapies.
What happens during a typical day at a silent retreat center?
Owners will likely spend much of their time planning itineraries and managing staff. They may teach classes, cook meals, or prepare sleeping quarters. Owners also typically need to handle more standard administrative duties, such as marketing, budgeting, and meeting commercial business needs (e.g., following zoning laws, maintaining insurance policies, etc.)
What is the target market?
Entrepreneurs might be surprised at the kinds of people who want to try a silent retreat. It’s not just for those who embrace alternative lifestyles, but for everyone who feels as though they’re pulled in a million directions on any given day. Considering the level of distractions in the world, it likely won’t be difficult to appeal to people.
How does a silent retreat center make money?
Silent retreat businesses generally make money by charging people a flat fee based on the time they spend in the retreat.
What is the growth potential for a silent retreat center?
Silent retreats are exploding in popularity, so the growth potential is huge right now. Owners have a major opportunity to capitalize on the public’s desire by giving them memorable and relaxing experiences. As the market becomes more saturated and the idea becomes less novel, this demand will likely drop-off.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful silent retreat center?
You should ideally have some experience with retreats and hospitality before starting this business. You do not need to have direct education in psychology to begin the business, but a background of formal education in mindfulness may help you design the activities and hire the right staff for your retreat center. It can also give you the credibility you need to entice people to try your product.
What are the costs involved in opening a silent retreat center?
Costs to get started may be surprisingly low. You can potentially turn your own home into a silent retreat to get started! If you choose to hold the retreat in a more standard peaceful location, such as the woods or the mountains, you’ll need to budget for both the space and the furnishings for your guests. Larger retreats will also require trained staff who can work with customers to enhance their spiritual journey.
What are the steps to start a silent retreat center?
Once you're ready to start your silent retreat center, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your silent retreat center is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your silent retreat center keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
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What are some insider tips for jump starting a silent retreat center?
Silent retreat businesses aren’t a new concept, but the fad of luxury silent retreats to lure people away from their iPads is. This means that you’re going to be a bit of a pioneer when it comes to figuring out your particular business model. The best thing to do is get a sense of what people what in your area. Silent retreats may sound like a great idea — until a person realizes that they won’t be able to check their phone when they feel that familiar sense of boredom or anxiety. It’s your job to find out how to keep people occupied without giving them their proverbial security blanket.
You may want to first test your ideas with friends and family. Ask them for honest feedback about how they feel as they try different activities. This should help you design packages that fit with different people's personalities. For example, an overly anxious person may only be able to do your retreat for an hour rather than a whole week. Promoting a theme, such as Buddhist principles or Kabala, may also make it easier to brand your business. Just be careful not to use these principles solely as a means of selling your product, but as a means of guiding you into a cohesive business strategy.
In the beginning, pay more attention to the quality of your customer’s experiences rather than the revenue you’re making. It doesn’t necessarily have to be easy for them to put down their phones, but it should feel worth the effort at the end of the day. People are open to trying new things as long as everything is well-coordinated and thoughtfully executed. Your guests will likely be able to tell if the whole thing feels thrown together as a cheap excuse to make money. (This is especially helpful advice if you choose to conduct a silent retreat in your home.)
How to promote & market a silent retreat center
People are always going to be looking for a way to shake up their daily routines so they can get a new perspective on life. Your job is to show them how you can open their eyes to a calmer way of living by getting away from it all. This message is so universal that any kind of marketing can be effective, whether it’s TV, radio, internet ads, or physical flyers.
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How to keep customers coming back
You need to show your customers the joys of disconnecting from the devices that constantly interfere with their most inner thoughts. They should leave feeling refreshed, fulfilled, and ready to make a change to become more mindful in their daily lives.
How and when to build a team
If you feel comfortable working with just a few people out of your home, then you likely don’t need a team at the beginning. However, larger retreats will need teachers and coordinators to keep everything organized. Look for people who understand how retreats work and how they can contribute to making the environment more peaceful.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a silent retreat center business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Certificate of Occupancy
A silent retreat center business is generally run out of a large center. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a silent retreat center business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your silent retreat center business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
How much can you charge customers?
Major retreats in peaceful settings can charge up to $4,000 for an 8-night stay. Decide your own prices based on the start-up costs, amenities offered, and the costs of your direct competition.
What are the ongoing expenses for a silent retreat center?
Silent retreats will need to account for staff salaries, commercial insurance, and the cost to maintain their space.
How much profit can a silent retreat center make?
Those who can create the right experiences can expect to make plenty of profit. If you charge $1,500 for a three-night stay at even a 10% profit margin, you’d make $1,500 in a weekend with only 10 guests.
How can you make your business more profitable?
You can offer ‘optional’ activities that people can pay for during their trip. For example, let’s say you have a first-class chef making healthy meals for your patrons. You can offer patrons the chance to have the chef make their personal favorite meal one night. Or you can offer more exclusive classes taught by world-renowned teachers.