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Business Plan Retreat

Preparing for Your Business Plan Retreat

December is definitely one of my most favourite times of the year, and for all #geeky reasons!  It’s business plan season, and what better way to tackle your plan than to set aside some time for your very own business plan retreat!

As a former meeting planner, I absolutely LOVE planning, and my business plan retreat allows me to prepare for both my business (and my life).

2020 most certainly threw a wrench in all of our business plans,  and although there is still a large degree of uncertainty in 2021, we can still plan with the best knowledge we have to date.  If doing a 12-month business plan would be a futile effort this season, try one of these ideas instead:

  • Plan for the first quarter – the strategy of planning for each quarter, or 12-weeks, makes your goals more actionable as you only have 12 weeks to complete them.  Many people fall into the “I’ll get it done in November” plan when creating a full yearly plan.  To learn more about how a 12-week plan can work for you, read
  • Make a life plan –  If business plans aren’t feasible, surely a life plan is!   A life plan looks at ALL areas of your life, not just your business.  THis is where you can map out your family activities, vacation time, books to read, professional development opportunities, a social media plan, a personal branding plan, etc.
  • Schedule a half-day near the end of each quarter to create your plan and action items for the next quarter.

There are a ton of great business plan templates out there, and I also created a template to use if you need to look at something tailored for our meetings industry.  For a life plan, I highly recommend the book and resources by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, Living Forward.

If you are an entrepreneur or solopreneur, your plan and retreat may require only your input.  If you work in a team, your plan may become part of a larger whole.  Regardless of who mandates your business plan, spending time alone with your plan is the best way of setting goals that are realistic and challenging for you for the upcoming year.

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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:
    1. hotel – perhaps one with a great coffee shop, club lounge, etc.  Consider a suite so you can spread out your materials and papers.
    2. 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
    3. library – you can sit in there for hours unnoticed!
  3. Create an agenda  – ensure you create an agenda for your retreat, even if it is only for yourself or small team
    1. Go over last year’s successes, challenges, and projects that were not completed.
    2. Identify your top 3 objectives, and ensure you cover those objectives through your retreat.
    3. 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
    4. Need some sample agendas?  Find them here!
  4. Pack necessary suppliers – your packing list may look like:
    1. last year’s plan if available
    2. post-it notes, pens and notepads
    3. laptop, phone, and charging cords
    4. zip drive if you need to print anything off and have access to a printer
    5. 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)
    6. snacks, or cash to buy snacks – I pack tea, a big tea mug and a kettle (yep, not all hotels have kettles readily available…)
  5. 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.

(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….

  1. Pack you necessary supplies
  2. Put on your “out of office notification
  3. Thank you family and colleagues for respecting your time away
  4. Get plenty of rest

What should you do on your business/life plan retreat day:

  1. Look back – before you can move forward, you’ll need to look at last year’s plan and document where you ended up.  For your measurable goals, write down where you ended up and compare them to your business plan.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

In need of a business plan template to start the process?  Feel free to download my template here, use as a springboard for your own goal-setting process!

 

How do YOU plan your yearly goals?  Do you go on retreat?  Are you encouraged to try a retreat?  Let me know!!

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