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How to Plan a Successful Solo Business Retreat for Better Leadership

How to Plan a Successful Solo Business Retreat for Better Leadership

Being in business can be incredibly tough. You’re working hard to get clients, you’re doing the marketing and the strategy and the scheduling and #allthethings. Sometimes you just want somebody to tell you what to do.

Unfortunately, as the CEO, you have to set the direction of your business. You have to know what comes next and what the plans are. In order to do that, you need the white space to think clearly about your business, you need to unclutter your desk, your brain, your inbox to step away. Choosing to step away from the hamster wheel of your day-to-day business is a tough move because everything tries to suck you in. From social media to your team member, to a new facebook group, or a client emergency. You can’t ever get anything done for your own business.

Solo retreats can be a solution to give you a little rest and relaxation, clarity and time to work on things that matter in your business. We’ve partnered up with 5 incredible business women to get their take on how to plan and run a successful solo business retreat.


Limit Distractions

  •  Make sure to set your out of office message before you leave for your retreat. I recommend using Inbox Pause (as a google app) to stop email while you’re away. Alternatively, you can drag your email icon on your phone to one of the back pages so you don’t see it. Also, it helps if you log out of it on your computer so it makes you log in every time you do check it.
  • Commit to getting “off the grid” by tuning out of Instagram, Facebook, email, and other things that typically suck you in. This is a time to get you focused on you and unless it’s an emergency, you don’t really need to be using your phone for a ton. Schedule posts ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about it!
  • It’s great to go on a solo retreat with somebody else. As long as the understanding is that each of you will individually work independently, it can work out. You can take your partner with you and have solo work time.

Reflection and Agenda

  • You can dig deep into the planning while you’re on a solo retreat. This is the time to do reflection and projection of where you want your life and your business to go in the future. You can look at the launch calendar for the year, look 5 years into the future or you can simply plan for the current season you’re in.
  • If you need room to do other things, don’t force any work (go with the flow). I’m betting that you’re a hustler and you’re good at doing things all the time. Sometimes you really just need to chill and take it easy! Take time to relax, swim, get a massage, go get a fancy coffee you normally wouldn’t get.
  • Create a loose time-block schedule for what you want to happen. While you don’t want to be overplanned and over scheduled, it’s great to know what the direction you’re ultimately going in the retreat. If you’re there to relax it would be a different experience than having to create 4 different presentations or writing a draft of a manuscript.
  • A Solo retreat doesn’t just have to be about business! You can use it for anything you’re experiencing in life as well. It is great to do life + biz reflection so you can assess what is going well and what hasn’t been going so well to make effective changes!
  • These reflections can help us to figure out who you want to be and what you want to do and live more intentionally fueled lives.
  • If you do decide you want to create a schedule, make sure you’re not going in with a list of things that will overwhelm you. Choose a small list of tasks you will handle and have a “back up list” of things that would be nice if you do complete.
  • The Solo Retreat is an opportunity where you can take care of tasks that you can’t normally do at home. Without laundry, cooking dinner, feeding children, doing the dishes, how much can you actually accomplish?
  • If you are on a budget, consider staying for a few days with a friend who has a) an extra room in his/her house and b) has a 9-5 job where they leave during the day. You can work out of their home and go out in the evening (you can pay for them with a nice dinner).

Things to Consider

  • Strong wifi, restaurants and coffee easily accessible
  • Go to bed by midnight
  • Go around your business birthday every year
  • Buy a workbook to work through
  • If you get stuck or unmotivated, have somebody who you can call to put you back on track.
  • Schedule a time to connect with your family. If you’re a mom, you might need to have a time to check in on the littles. Make time for that so you’re not interrupted.

Some themes that came up:

  • Being near nature or away from business/life normal setting (ideas: museum, coffee shop, lake house, budapest, local hotel, drivable, body of water) helps people get productive and uncluttered
  • People use the Solo Retreat time for: reflection + getting serious work done
  • Turn off the noise of life and take care of yourself.
  • Normally, you’re constantly doing things for others and the Retreat is a perfect example to take care of you.

Each person’s suggestions:

Natalie Spencer of Freckles Creative Studio
In a time where we are so “connected” my best advice is to truly disconnect… even if that means literally going off the grid!
Sarah Bradshaw, Sarah Bradshaw Photography
I always use Don Whitney’s “10 Questions to Ask At the Start of a New Year.” And then I draw myself a calendar for the next 5 years, and look at it all on one sheet so I can see it from start to finish, and start plugging things in that I want to happen. That helps give me context for what I think this year should look like, and if it’s a planting year or a harvesting year. I’ve also started using Lara Casey’s Powersheets, which is particularly helpful for someone who hasn’t done intentional planning in the past, or if they’re at a new juncture in life or business (major life change like marriage or parenthood, a business rebrand, going full-time, etc). I think I’m probably more intentional than most, but it’s helpful to plan. Necessary. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but I think it’s important to plan.

Danielle Roberts, Legacy Creative Co.
It’s a very important thing for you to get away by yourself. Especially if you are the type of person who does everything for everyone, you have to give back to yourself. You can’t give out of nothing so it’s very important to spend time on yourself so you can in return give to others.

(Hey you! Read the full interviews with these bosses here!)

Katie Hunt – Tradeshow Bootcamp
I expected to feel uncomfortable with solo travel but I love my retreats. I highly recommend that people do them once or twice a year, particularly busy moms that are entrepreneurs. We tend not to make time for ourselves on a regular basis, but doing a retreat means you’re completely focused on you. And, you can use that time however you’d like. While I use it primarily to work on my business, I also make time for fun and I come back feeling so refreshed.

Hailey Dale – Trunkedcreative.com
Get out of your regular environment, make a list of what you want to walk away with and what tools you’ll need before you go (was missing my highlighters! ha), think about the little things you can do to make it feel special. And it doesn’t have to be expensive – I found an amazing local hotel deal on Groupon and also scoped out a couple of really cute Airbnbs that would have worked too.

(Want more? Read the full interviews with these bosses here!)

Bryn Chernoff – PaperFinger.com
I’m working on a book on the subject, actually! So if folks are interested in hearing about any updates on that, they can always sign up for my newsletter.

Otherwise, I suggest that folks trust their instincts when designing a useful retreat. You know your business, you know your life, you know what type of thinking and questioning is missing from your day-to-day. Enjoy!

Dannie Fountain
Solo retreats don’t have to be somewhere crazy exotic or wild. I actually didn’t choose Budapest because I wanted to go there, I chose Budapest because it was the best option within my budget (I was able to get flights/accommodations total for under $600). I use wherefor.com and put in my budget and the type of place I want to go and they tell me where I can reasonably afford to go! I also use Google Flights to gut check those flight prices and sometimes I do even better (I’m going to Morocco in August and my ticket was under $400 total).

Find out more about what these bosses have done to make their Solo Retreat a success by reading about their experience here!

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