Small Business Retreats: The 1st Step to Getting Off The Revenue Roller Coaster

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Do you spend so much time working in your business that you never work on your business and, as a result, ride the revenue roller coaster month in and month out?

The corporate world knows the value of taking time out for a step back, taking time to assess what is going right, what is going wrong and what just plain isn’t going anywhere. As a business owner, it’s critical to take time out to plan, be it for a year, 6 months or even a long-term goal.

I usually plan two business retreats per year:

~ One in late summer — it’s late enough in the current year to have a good idea of how the year’s progressing and yet still have enough time to make changes if necessary.

~ One over the holidays just before New Year’s — this saves me from also doing New Year’s resolutions. 🙂

As part of my late summer review, I review my business and plan — in detail — and make adjustments where needed:

* Is something missing from my offers?

* Are there too many offers?

* Are they cohesive?

* Etc.

I then take a few critical tools and go somewhere for a few days (or lock myself away in the house) where I can reflect on my business as a business, its successes and opportunities as well as its challenges.

5 tools necessary for a successful business retreat:

1. Your financial records…in whatever form they exist.

I use QuickBooks Online to track my finances — it allows me to track my income and expenses by any number of categories and dates. With the click of a few buttons, I can tell when my peak times of year are, what products and services bring in the most revenue (and how that changes seasonally) and what my expenses are.

Long ago, I would figure out how much money I had (or would have based on an estimate) and then what to do with it. No longer. I now select my revenue and profit goals and then develop a plan to reach them.

2. A calendar.

Personally, I use a large write-on/wipe off wall calendar so I can see the whole year at a glance. This allows me to easily see what I’ve planned. I also use colored stickers to label different types of days: business building, profit generating, vacation and holidays. This allows me to know what’s planned on any given day. It’s not easy. . .it takes time and effort to know where I want to be 6 or 12 months from now, so I start with some basics.

* Holidays. . . I take the major ones off.

* Vacations. . . I’m heading to the Poconos with my hubby this fall.

* Business Building. . . These are my writing and conference days (including travel to and from).

* Profit generating. . . These are the days I’m working on activities which make money for my business: private and group coaching, etc.

3. All those scraps of paper or the notebook in which you wrote down ideas for your business and things that you want to do.

Record them in one central place; I call mine my “Dream Journal” — it’s actually a gorgeous journal made entirely from bamboo (Borders has beautiful journals for under $20).

If you have a laptop, bring it. . .otherwise a notebook and calculator will do just fine. Use this list as the starting point of where you want to go, what you want to do and, equally important, what you don’t want to do in the coming months.

4. A realistic view of the world.

After determining where I want my business to go, I break down the larger goals into quarterly objectives and then into monthly objectives, etc. This takes the “big picture” and makes it more manageable as I can get my arm around quarterly and monthly (and then weekly) objectives much easier than I can the entire period, and it’s not as daunting if you plan to take smaller steps toward a larger goal.

This allows me to see what’s doable and what’s not.

5. Your imagination!

Relax and remember *why* you started your own business.

Keep this in mind as you plan your goals and remember to plan some time for yourself away from the business — we all need this to keep things fresh and exciting!

It is critical that you take the time to plan what you want your business to be like. You don’t need to do something just because “you always do it” or because “you’re good at it” — focus on those things that you enjoy doing! You’ll be much happier and productive — after all, you didn’t go into business to feel pressured or dislike what you’re doing!

My Request To You

Grab your calendar and decide when you are going to take your late summer business retreat this year — even if it’s for an afternoon of undisturbed reviewing and planning.

While I can already hear the groans of “I’m too busy, I don’t have time, the kids are on vacation”, and every other reason you think you can’t do it, my question is “Can you afford NOT to do it?”

Doing the above, and acting on it, is often the difference between staying a five figure business and breaking into six figures this year.