I totally dig it when other entrepreneurs take me behind the scenes of their business to share their personal experiences because I like knowing exactly how they did something, the quirky things that make them real and relatable, and the things they love and value–because all of these things help me to learn more about myself.
My guess is that you dig this kind of thing too. So, it’s my absolute pleasure to walk you through my own retreat experience and offer up a few tidbits of learning that could help you design your own powerful business retreat.
Here are my 8 awesome tips for planning your own personal, powerful business retreat:
1. Answer the longing.
My own longing for a retreat was very strong. I had been living and breathing the idea of a business retreat for months as I created and edited The Solopreneur Sojourn Retreat Kit (note: Version 2.0 coming soon). As soon as this kit was launched I texted my co-working partner and said “I’m doing this in November, will you pleeeeease join me?” She jumped in and then we extended the invitation to another colleague.
We booked The Captain’s House at the beautiful Oceanstone Resort for our 2 night/3-day retreat.
2. Collect your provisions.
Once the location and dates were set I created a list of items I wanted to bring with me on this retreat.
I kept it pretty simple:
- comfortable clothing (for me that means fleece, a girl can never have too much fleece) & outside gear (I live in my Bogs in the winter because they’re waterproof and good to minus 30 degrees Celsius)
- journal and pens
- foot soak stuff (a big basin, marbles to roll your feet over and bath bombs from “Lush”)
- wine (lots of wine!)
- my retreat kit filled with exercises, audios and powerful activities to help me focus on my business-
- food – I coordinated meals with my retreat buddies and brought plenty of organic, healthy food, dark chocolate, and a few bags of chips to make this extra yummy
- my iPhone for pictures
3. Set an intention.
Retreats can be multi-purposeful. The most effective way to experience a business retreat is to decide ahead of time what you want the outcome to be and how you want to feel during your time away.
These are the four questions my retreat compansions answered (and shared with each other) before we even left for our retreat:
1. What 3 things do want to get clear on, make a decision on or accomplish while you’re on this retreat?
2. How do you want this retreat to feel?
3. What do you want to contribute to each other while on retreat?
4. What do you want to ask for from each other?
4. Design an alliance with yourself or each other.
Whether you go it alone or create a self-led group retreat, I think it’s critical to begin your first day by designing an alliance with each other. This means formalizing an agreement for how you want to be with each other. Creating your ‘rules for engagement’ so that your retreat can unfold smoothly and powerfully.
Here’s how simple we made our alliance:
1. We agreed to keep confidentiality.
2. We agreed to ask for what we needed when we needed it. For example: time alone, feedback on an idea, a piece of chocolate, a shot of tequila … (you get the point). This way we felt accountable for taking care of our own needs and for respecting the needs of others.
3. We gave each other permission to be coached. We were all hungry for the power of 1:1 coaching so we just made this part of how we would show up for each other in our group discussions. (Note: this was super easy for us because we’re all trained coaches.)
5. Create a loose arc for your day.
Free time is my most treasured possession as an entrepreneur! But, when it came to the biz retreat we chose a loose structure for how we wanted our time to unfold.
We were intentional about what we wanted to happen and made sure we built in lots of check points, rest breaks and time outside.
We arrived, set up the bar (I like wine), unpacked
Toured the property, got the lay-o’-the-land, explored the shore
Designed our alliance
Shared our goals and intentions
Had solo time to work through aspects of the retreat kit
Group debrief to share what was unfolding for us individually
Enjoyed supper together, had a foot soak, drank wine, talked about our life and business in equal parts
Solo time to work on our business goals
Free time to walk along the shore
Group discussion to uncover our business values and brainstorm how we could honour these core values more fully in the coming year (this was emotional and deep work but very, very revealing– And yes, the retreat kit walks you through this exercise step by step!)
More solo time to write new content, draft new program ideas, tweak current processes
Group supper, more wine, lots of debriefing, sharing, supporting each other
Solo time to wrap up our work
A group debrief of our experience
Shared our individual accountabilities and next steps
Discussed plans for our next retreat
Packed up and headed home
6. Completion, next steps and accountability.
On the last day of our retreat we took stock of what unfolded, appreciated the time we had to work on our businesses, and thanked each other for creating this amazing experience. We also talked about next steps and accountabilities.
I walked away with a clear assessment of what’s working and what isn’t in my business, I uncovered key business values that I wasn’t fully aware of that are informing new processes and new offers in my business. I celebrated all of my accomplishments to date and reconnected with my inner source of inspiration and courage.
It was a meaningful and productive 3-days. I feel inspired and deeply connected to my work once again because I took this time for myself and my business. This retreat helped me regroup and reengage with my vision.
7. Plan your re-entry.
To me, this retreat felt like a soulful quest. I loved the uninterrupted time and the moments of ease and deep exhales. And, to be honest I was totally bummed when it came to an end.
These are the strategies I am using to stay inspired:
- I eased back in. I planned ahead for a few slower moving, slower thinking days. I let myself reacclimatise.
- I’m keeping with tradition. I continue some of my retreat rituals like lighting a candle, pouring my coffee and setting an intention for the day.
- I booked an entire day off work about a week after the retreat and used this day to reengage with my retreat notes and commitments.
- I use my colleagues to help me stay accountable to what matters to me. I’ve set a few audacious goals for 2014, so I know I am benefiiting from the ongoing support and championing.
- We’ve tentatively booked our next retreat for spring 2014. Anticipating my next big adventure keeps me inspired and moving forward.
- I lean on nature. I find time most days to enjoy a few minutes of fresh air or a dog walk in the woods.
8. Communicate with your Tribe.
Let your community know what’s been unfolding for you, what’s on the horizon and how this experience served you. –
Ready to answer your own longing and create a beautiful, productive business retreat experience over the holidays?
This is a structured, supportive, emotionally grounding and experiential resource designed to help women entrepreneurs at all stages of business growth get clear, get connected and get aligned with what’s next in their business.
I teared up when I held it in my hands for the first time.
I have put a lot of love, care and experience into this kit and I’d love for you to have the support you need without the high-costs of an in-person retreat. Permission to retreat is yours my lovely one.
Over to you
Have you ever taken yourself on a business retreat? What tips do you have? I’d love to hear from you.