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Running a business

Tired? Burnt out? A small business retreat might be the answer

When you first launched your company, you likely had a clear vision and business plan. But as a small business owner, it’s easy to get mired in the day-to-day. 

The lines between your work and personal lives become blurred, and it can feel like you are just treading water to stay afloat. In periods of abundance, a heavy workload can be taxing. In times of scarcity, the hustle to drum up new business can be overwhelming and stressful. It can feel impossible to do, but it's important to take a step back from the daily grind—not only to avoid burnout—but to revisit the big picture. 

In short: You need to take a break from your business to work on your business. 

One way to do this is a self-imposed business retreat. It allows you to evaluate your small business and revisit your original goals and vision. You don’t even have to travel anywhere; a retreat can be as simple as a break from your day-to-day grind. Put a solo business retreat into practice with this step-by-step guide to planning a successful business retreat for yourself.

1. Make the time

The most challenging part of setting up a solo business retreat can be finding the time. Nevertheless, it’s critical that you do. This doesn’t mean just blocking off a day or two on your calendar; it means protecting your time. You need to dedicate yourself to the process. 

It’s important to set aside your day-to-day workload and put ongoing projects on hold. It’s helpful to let your clients, customers, or employees know ahead of time about the time away for your business retreat. It both helps you to focus and to hold yourself accountable.



2. Prepare your space

Once you identify the dates of your business retreat, think about your environment. What type of space will be most conducive for you? It can be helpful to shake up your scenery. For some, going to a library or a coffee shop might be ideal. For others, it might make the most sense to keep things simple and familiar and stick with a home office space. A simple staycation can be enough to calm your mind and body.

Consider other aspects of your retreat environment, too. Do you have a specific outfit that you are the most comfortable in or that would inspire you to work? Do you have any favorite beverages or foods that you should have on hand? Be deliberate in your decision-making before you launch into your business break so you can dedicate yourself fully to the process when it arrives.

3. Set an agenda

Go into your retreat with a plan. What do you hope to accomplish? What particular tasks do you want to pay specific attention to? For example, developing actionable insights based on your financial statements might be something you always mean to do, but never feel like you have time for.

This whole exercise is about taking a step away from the grind of the day-to-day to focus on your long-term business goals. It can be helpful to reflect on your business’s previous year to identify wins and areas for improvement moving forward. Identify a number of actionable items based on your agenda to walk away from the retreat with.

4. Build in time to practice self-care

While the ultimate goal of a business retreat is to take in the big picture and set your business on track for success, it’s also important to focus on you. Schedule time not only for must-do business tasks and big-picture planning but also for breaks, mental space, and mindfulness. 

Use this pause from the daily grind to look inward. Consider practicing meditative breathing techniques or engaging in some gentle movement, like stretching or yoga. And don’t be afraid to treat yourself. Put time on the schedule to take yourself out for a nice dinner, pour yourself a glass of wine, or take a walk—whatever joyful thing that you might usually feel too busy to do.

5. Stick to your agenda

When the day of your retreat arrives, silence notifications and establish boundaries to protect your time. Your job during the business retreat is to stay on task. You will get out what you put in. 

Of course, give yourself some grace if you do hit a few hiccups. As they say, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” If, say, a nap is what your body needs, make time to give it rest. Your business retreat should be a reset that allows you to focus. Plus, good sleep hygiene is important for brain function.

6. Take time to reflect

As your business retreat comes to a close, it’s important to review what you learned about yourself and your business. What tasks did you identify as needing your attention? What are your big priorities moving forward? Plan accordingly around these. 

It’s often helpful to map out deadlines and time-oriented goals for the year to come based on your takeaways from your retreat. This provides a framework for you moving forward, which can help you work more efficiently toward your long-term business goals when you are back to being knee-deep in your day-to-day work.

7. Plan your next business retreat

Armed with a better understanding of your business and goals, look ahead to another business retreat during which you can check in on your progress. The frequency of retreats is really up to you. You might want to plan one each business quarter, or perhaps once a year is enough for you. But it’s important to regularly give yourself the time and mental space to evaluate your business. 

Find more resources for your mental well-being on the QuickBooks Blog.

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