Setting goals and looking ahead to your upcoming year has incredible benefits. Your business plan…
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – no, not Christmas, not back-to-school, its BUSINESS PLAN RETREAT SEASON!
I’ve headed out on yearly business plan retreats for years now, and it truly helps me set a strong base for the upcoming year. Its an incredible experience for me as a solopreneur, but can also be a powerful way to align your small team as well. Let’s break down the fundamentals of a business plan retreat, and set you up for your own retreat in the weeks to come!
Why do a business plan retreat
So why is a business plan retreat a critical component of your business?
- Gives space for you to reflect on all that happened this past year – the successes, the challenges, the (gasp) failure events, the unexpected, the incompleted, the surprises, etc
- Gives you space to take what happened this past year and put it towards learnings for the upcoming year. This is the time to take what you learned, and apply it to your future projects and goals.
- Celebration time – closing the book on the past year allows for you to head into a New Year with resolution on what happened, and a renewed energy for the year ahead. Whether you had a successful, or a challenging year, the celebration is acknowledging that this year taught you so many things – about business, about people, about yourself.
- Centers you back to your “why”
- why are you in the role that you have
- why you love your work, or
- why you are looking at a change
- Intentional look ahead
- For setting goals, but also setting intentional design about how to reach your goals
- Break down and set goal markers throughout the year
- Brainstorm the ideas and projects that will help you meet your goal
- Brainstorm the team members, and other support people required to help you meet your goals
- Wholistic view of your other life domains – Your Business Plan Retreat is not only about setting business goals and tasks, but also about setting personal goals as well
- Books you’d like to read
- Health and fitness goals (run a marathon),
- Volunteer opportunities
Why should I head out from my office (or home) to do my retreat?
There is incredible value in doing the business plan retreat away from your office, be it a home office or workplace.
- Change of scenery can provide a bounty of fresh perspectives
- Fewer distractions being away from the office – by leaving your office setting you banish the distractions that come in the form of chatty colleagues, water cooler talk, phone calls and “work emergencies”. When you leave your home office, you eliminate the disruptions of family members and pets, and the lure to do a load of laundry or get dinner started.
- Quiet reflection – along with removing distractions, reflection for most can be done better when you’re alone. If you decide to do a business plan retreat with team members, try to carve out time for quiet reflection so that you can focus on goals from other life domains, separate from the work you do with your team
- Ability to be “out of office” – when you’re away from the office, you can turn on your out of office notifications, and reduce the temptation to “check in” on work. Shut down any notifications on your computer or phone that will take you away from this high-focus work.
How Do You Prepare for a Business Plan Retreat
Getting ready to head out on your retreat requires some pre-planning and prep to ensure you get the most out of your time away. Consider these tips for planning your retreat:
- Set aside a day(s) and block it out on your calendar – do not allow other people to book your time on that day. This day is sacred and should be free of other commitments
- Pick a location – this is so important – the right location can make or break your retreat day. They say familiar surroundings breeds familiar thinking which is why its critical you get away from your office for this productive exercise. even if you’re a solopreneur or you work from home. Getting away will remove distractions so you can focus on your objectives. Some suggestions include:
- hotel – perhaps one with a great coffee shop, club lounge, etc. Consider a suite so you can spread out your materials and papers.
- a friend’s house – when they’re out for the day. Ask your friend if you can borrow their abode while they are at work
- library – you can sit in there for hours unnoticed!
- Create an agenda – ensure you create an agenda for your retreat, even if it is only for yourself or small team
- Go over last year’s successes, challenges, and projects that were not completed.
- Identify your top 3 objectives, and ensure you cover those objectives through your retreat.
- As additional ideas pop up (and they will…) write them down on a flipchart called “parking lot”; this will help you stay on task, but not lose sight of new ideas
- Need some sample agendas? Find them here!
- Pack necessary suppliers – your packing list may look like:
- last year’s plan if available
- post-it notes, pens and notepads
- laptop, phone, and charging cords
- zip drive if you need to print anything off and have access to a printer
- headphones and easy listening music (I have a playlist of classical music that I go to when I need to focus on the tasks at hand but require something to drown out the other noises of the environment)
- snacks, or cash to buy snacks – I pack tea, a big tea mug and a kettle (yep, not all hotels have kettles readily available…)
- Decide to be unreachable and offline – set your out-of-office notifications on, and let your colleagues and family members know you are not to be disturbed. This is YOUR time, don’t let anyone take it from you.
- Communicate your plan to your team members, family members – Get everyone “on board” for your retreat so that both your work and family obligations are covered in your absence, and you’re not disrupted during your time away.
(and one bonus tip found at the end of the YouTube video – especially if you’re part of a team retreat!)
The night before you leave for your retreat….
- Pack you necessary supplies
- Put on your “out of office notification
- Thank you family and colleagues for respecting your time away
- Get plenty of rest
What should you do on your business/life plan retreat day:
- Be open to what will happen – having the right attitude on business plan retreat day is half the battle. Whether you had a fantastic year, or a disappointing one, this is the day where you chart your NEW course. Be open to what’s possible and to what your heart tells you is possible.
- Allow for changes – your retreat day is only one day in 365 to accomplish your goals. Your plan is a living document and changes will be made. Don’t focus on perfection, focus on larger ideas and the smaller ideas will fill in in the days ahead.
- Stay focused – spending an entire day on your plan can get exhausting. Change up your scenery as required to keep you fresh and focused on the task at hand.
- Start to block time in your calendar for the projects and action items you’ve identified – at least for the next 6-8 weeks. As you complete tasks, you can adjust your schedule and future time blocks.
What do you do after the retreat is over?
- Have you plan in a place where you can see it. Either printed or stored in the cloud, ensure its in a place where you won’t forget about it.
- Review your plan regularly – put some times in your calendar to review your plan – once a week is ideal to ensure you stay on track for the goals you’ve set. Plan for larger plan reviews and overhauls every month or quarter.
- Stay true to your blocked time to work on the projects you’ve identified. Don’t allow all your great creativity to go to waste with no adequate follow-up
Not sure what to cover on your retreat? I’ve created some sample agendas that you can download here to help get you on your way!
And stay tuned for next week’s post where we look back at the “year that was” to help set a strong foundation for the year ahead!