Each year the CBL gals plan two retreats: a two-night adventure in January to set goals for the year ahead, and a single-day retreat in July to make sure we're on track with our goals. A one-day retreat is inexpensive and easy to plan, so the ratio between effort and value is extremely high. We've done this since 2013, so we've pretty much got the planning down to a science. It took Alyson Thomas and only a few hours to plan an amazing day for the group. Here are our steps and suggestions for planning an executing a successful one-day retreat. Grab your business buds and put a date on the calendar- you'll be glad you did when at the end of the retreat you're holding a glass of rose, noshing on cheese, and feeling reinvigorated and inspired to make your business dreams come true.
Getting a date on the calendar can often be the most challenging part. Start at least 6 weeks in advance, longer if there are more than 5 people involved. Doodle is your best friend for this task. Once you pick a date, stick to it.
You don't have to get all fancy and rent an Airbnb or anything. We usually choose someone's house, giving bonus points to locations that have a deck or outdoor space to lounge around drinking coffee or wine. Doing the retreat at home has the advantages of being free, nearby, and having kitchen access. Pick someplace you can relax and focus- so make sure the kids are out for the day.
Food & Drink:
This is a retreat, people. That means it should feel like a mini vacation, even though you're going to be using your brain all day. When I'm on vacation, I like to eat well. The CBL does not shy away from luxurious noshing. We always start the morning with pastries, fruit and coffee, have a potluck style lunch (usually millions of tasty salads), and round out the day with a wine and cheese happy hour. We designate a host for the day and she is in charge of delegating and coordinating the meals and snacks. Everyone pitches in, and we always end up with an amazing spread.
This is the real meat of the retreat. We usually designate two people to plan the content and agenda for the day. Each retreat is different, but they often feature many of the same elements. Here are a few of old standbys:
- Personal Reflection Time: Usually 15-30minutes, this is time for each person to go off on their own, reflect and journal on the year so far and set intentions for the day.
- CELEBRATION Check-Ins: At every meeting (not just the retreats), each member to takes the floor for a few minutes to give us the update on their business. We do this with a twist at the retreat: we put a special focus on the positive things we've accomplished so far this year. As business owners, it's far too easy to look toward the next mountain we need to summit and forget all about the eighteen hills we climbed to get where we are. It's so important to celebrate our progress. We'll often bust out gold star stickers, applause, bubbles, or confetti... it is a celebration, after all!
- Small-Group Time: We usually break up into groups of 3 or 4 and take some time to focus on discussing each business in more depth. Each person gets about half and hour in the spotlight to really dig into issues they may be facing and ask for feedback, support, and advice. The small group works together to brainstorm and plan creative solutions for the road ahead.
- Wildcard Activities: This is the content that requires the most advance planning. The content team should meet a few weeks in advance to plan activities based on what people in the group need the most. Start by thinking about what you are really craving- is it feedback? Inspiration? Creativity? Confidence? Design your own activity or discussion to help achieve those goals. Here's a few activities we've done in years past:
Brainstorming Your Way Through a Wall: Alyson just posted an amazing recap of the recent brainstorming discussion we had at this year's retreat
Forced Compliment Acceptance: Each member had to sit silently as every other person present listed off what they admire about the person, what positive qualities they have, and the secret-sauce they bring to their business and their life. No refuting or deflecting allowed, it was harder to be the subject than it sounds.
What Do YOU See In My Business? Each member created a series of questions on a worksheet to be filled out by all the other members with questions about their business. It gave everyone an outsider's perspective on their business's identity, strengths, weaknesses, and areas to improve on.
The final step (are arguably the most important step) to a successful retreat is to take all the thoughts and ideas you generated throughout the day and put them into action. Take time at the end of the day or the following day to reflect and create an action plan that will transform your ideas into changes. We're big fans of the SMART goals method- take your idea or goal and break it down into measurable, achievable mini goals and set some deadlines.