Kat Farrants founded the leading online yoga platform Movement for Modern Life. Having practiced yoga for 23 years, she knows the importance of learning with the very best teachers. Her mission is to enable the best teachers to be accessible to all.
Kat spoke to The Present of Yoga about how she arrived at the point of deciding to start MFML in part one of this conversation. Read on to find out what she then did & how she did it.
You’re not a computer programmer, so what happened next?
It was really simple. I didn’t know anything about computers but there was a yoga filming company who I had met with in the USA. I just thought “Okay, you film yoga and you put it on a website.” I didn’t even realise that you needed a developer! I didn’t know what coding was, I didn’t know any of that.
My takeaway point is that if you don’t know it, you are in a much better position. My ignorance about how complicated it all is was absolutely an advantage. If I’d have known what I know now, there’s no way I would have done this! It’s daunting, it’s so mammoth this job – “oh my God what do I code in? who do I host with? what do I do?” There are so many questions! Luckily the universe again conspired in the right direction because the husband of my best friend from university happened to be somebody who works in tech. He happened to know a developer and happened to say “This guy is good. Why don’t you work with him?” So I did that.
I want to touch on something there. I totally agree with you in terms of the way the universe conspires once you make a commitment to a direction. However, the really important point here is that clearly you were talking to lots of people and telling people what you were doing. I think the universe conspires if you’re taking consistent action and making it known, even if you are doing the wrong things but you’re committed to a direction, I think that’s when things start happening.
I have a saying: “Life is so simple, there are only two things you need to do. You need to decide what to do and then do it!” That’s my secret. That’s it! That’s all there is. People do not realise that if you don’t do it, it will not get done. Actually you start realising that there’s a lot of people who do just talk about things.
The things that practically helped me get to do it are firstly that I decided that I was going to do it, so I made a firm commitment to myself. Then I had a yoga nidra practice and I really believe that helped because I was zoning in on who I was at my heart and what my legacy is to the world when I die, what is my thing to give to the world? It needed to be something about making things easy and about accessibility. These words kept coming back to me.
Secondly, the love of my life are my dogs. I wanted to do something that enabled my life to be in the countryside with my dogs. I made a commitment when my other dog was dying of cancer that I was not going to get doggy care. I wanted to have a job that enabled me to live around them. Basically, I was forced into this project; I feel that the universe forced me into it and I had no option because if I didn’t do this project, I would have been destitute or a lawyer, and to me being destitute is preferable to being a lawyer, because I knew what that was like and that is not a version of reality that I was okay with! I also think that in life it’s helpful to have a big push, it’s helpful to have life really not going okay.
It makes you reassess, but if you’re lucky enough that your life is okay then give yourself that reassessment and make yourself do it as a practice. This is one of my little things. I think that yoga & having been a yogi for over 20 years has helped because it makes you realise that this is the practice, this is the discipline and that actually you don’t get anything done in life without a practice or a discipline.
Let’s explore that. How else has your personal yoga practice helped you in your business life?
The discipline of getting on your mat even when you don’t feel like it and doing it. That’s super important, I’d say it’s the most important thing in all of this, consistently working on your business every day whether you feel like it or not.
The other thing is that yoga has enabled me to see is the power of transformation. When you’re building a business, every day it’s different. Every day you are transforming, your business is transforming and circumstances are changing. What you think it’s going to look like is not how it looks like and that’s okay. It’s okay to be flexible, it’s great to be flexible! It’s great to be adaptable and it’s great to change and to embrace change and really embrace it because that is the only constant in life.
So that’s what yoga has given me, the ability to love change and love movement. Movement in every sense of the word and not just moving your body or moving forward with life. It’s seeing a collective, a movement like a union, a change in people’s consciousness. That’s why I love the word movement in Movement for Modern Life because it’s all about that conscious change as well.
Going back to your origin story, your best friend’s husband is a developer, he knew what to do but presumably he was busy and had a job, so what happened next?
In fact, he was able to recommend me one of the developers that he had worked with. That was the best tip-off ever, he introduced me to this guy who lived in France and developed in PHP – I didn’t know one thing from another! I just said “Oh that’s cool, can you make a website?.” It turns out, it’s just bloody lucky frankly, it turns out that he is a brilliant designer who’ has very decent coding skills. To be honest the business is now quite big and probably a little bit outside his range, but he developed the most amazing site for me at a tiny fraction of the cost. I went around to all of the big tech agencies and got quotes to build the site. The bill was going to be £75,000 to £100,000 – he built the whole site for about less than £20,000!
You are referring to the incredible luck of being put in touch with somebody like that but firstly, we’ve already spoken about the fact that you put yourself out there in order to attract this luck. The second thing is you clearly did your homework and looked at a few other routes first. I think that’s really important because by the time you have the fifth or sixth conversation, actually you’re semi-knowledgeable about it and even if you don’t understand the terms you know what sounds and doesn’t sound right.
You’re totally right, I had a lot of conversations. There was also a company who really really helped me with branding. At the time everybody said it was completely the wrong decision but I listened to my gut and to what this company were saying. They came up with our look and feel and lots of different ideas for our wireframes. So when we went to developers, we had an idea of what a decent wireframe would look like for our site. That was actually the most helpful thing and they were brilliant; yes they were expensive but the spend was really really worth it because I could have easily spent five times the money on the development and then not have the branding, and if you don’t have the consistency of the branding then you don’t really have a product.
Our view is that if you have a good enough product, then the only three things that actually matter are your financial model, your marketing and your value innovation. That’s it, there’s actually nothing else as important. It’s a classic small business error that people have amazing products but they either don’t spend the money on marketing or know how to effectively market what they have. Actually, inferior products that are marketed better will do better.
You totally have it, nail on the head! I did not know any of that stuff and I wish that I had known more in that respect because I was going on my gut feel, which is ridiculous!
It sounds like you were going on common sense as well which is ultimately what really matters.
I think so and I do think also that some people just innately have business sense and others don’t.
I agree with what you’re saying but I also believe that business is a learnable skill.
It can be learned, I think so, for sure.
Some have had experiences that lend themselves more to it but I think it’s completely learnable. If someone has the sheer drive and intelligence to learn how to learn, then I think it’s all possible but I think in most cases actually people just don’t want it bad enough. That’s what I really believe!
That, I totally believe. It is about the drive ultimately because if you don’t have that drive and motivation, you’re not going to read up, find out, talk to people, pick up the phone, do anything that needs to happen to make this thing happen. The most important thing is when you’re starting out, you don’t have any idea what needs to happen and then you just kind of learn piecemeal. In a way, that’s really nice.
If most business owners, myself included, knew what they would have to go through to build their business they’d probably think twice about it so I think the naivety really helps! If you were starting Movement for Modern Life today, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give yourself?
Oh that’s hard… I made some bad decisions around hiring when I was one year in. I was looking to hire people because I thought “Oh, I know nothing! I need to hire people who know things!”. I was wrong. Maybe I did need to hire people who knew things but I learned later that hiring people who shared passion and my vision is way more important than hiring people with just a skill set.
I wholeheartedly agree with that I think that’s a really important point. I think most skill sets are learnable but you can’t teach someone to have a good attitude, that’s really really difficult.
Absolutely and when the business is young and you make a bad hire, it takes you down and it takes the business down. I nearly gave up. It was really really bad news so that is definitely what I believe in. I pulled my socks up and got on with it, I stopped feeling sorry for myself!
It sounds like you turned that around and you’ve learned from that. What’s the most exciting thing for you about the next stage in your development?
The real excitement is we’re now in our growth phase, we’ve developed a nice product and we’ve got lots of really loyal, evangelical people behind us. Now, we’re ready to start growing it. That is a ride, a hell of an exciting ride… It’s a thrill!
You can connect with Kat via Movement For Modern Life‘s website, Instagram or Facebook page. We are grateful that Kat has offered a 20% discount if you subscribe after a free 14 day trial, just make sure you use the code SPREADYOGA. Please be aware that The Present of Yoga will also benefit from this.
The Present of Yoga’s takeaways:
Action – Kat’s advice is simply “Decide what to do, then do it!”. What makes the difference in the end is consistency of action, every day, whether we feel like it or not. It’s a practice and a discipline, the same as the discipline of getting on the mat.
Knowledge – is powerful, but a lack of it should not be a barrier or paralysing. “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase” – Martin Luther King Jr.