I’d had rolling Outlook reminders popping up incessantly at me for a couple of months. “Review marketing plan!” they nagged. “Develop new programs!” and ”Don’t forget to revise key messages!”
I kept deferring them, thinking to myself that I really needed a day out to plan. I yearned for the offsites I’d been part of in my old corporate life. Then I realised that a team of one can still have a team day!
Having just completed my second soloist’s offsite business planning day, I now feel like a veteran, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you.
You don’t have to spend big on a dreary meeting room in a bad hotel. A soloist’s offsite can be free. But don’t sit in your office or head for one of your regular haunts.
Being somewhere new will get your synapses firing in fresh ways. Creativity will follow.
What environments have got your thinking juices flowing in the past?
When I was at uni, I’d occasionally take long train trips to work on a particularly tricky essay. So my ideal offsite is a working journey of two or three hours to somewhere new on a country train (first class ticket, tray tables, hot cuppa). I have lunch and a walk at my destination, then do more work on the journey back. Weird? I guess so. But the only person I need to convince is me.
Go wherever works for you. Steal my train idea, or take a drive somewhere new. Perhaps overnight it. The choice is yours and yours alone.
Stick to the agenda
If you’ve ever been to a corporate offsite, you’ll have experienced the agony of a drifting agenda. When you’re working for someone else, you get to blame the facilitator.
When you’re flying solo, the facilitator is you. Do your job and don’t let the meeting lose focus.
What do you want to achieve?
Offsite business planning days are about new perspectives. It’s a good time to set strategy, define your dream client or develop new product ideas. It’s not the day to sort out your tax receipts.
Not sure what should be on your agenda? Try imagining yourself coming home after a wildly successful day. What does wild success look like to you? What have you achieved? What’s the evidence to prove it?
On my recent trip, I wanted to come home with a single page document incorporating goals for home, community and my business for the next 12 months.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business plans section.
What’s your process?
How will you reach your outcome for the day? Allow a nice balance between structure and fluidity, so you can be receptive when inspiration strikes.
For me, I wanted to review the material from a conference I’d been to recently then do some brainstorming in the morning and refine my ideas in the afternoon.
You’ll find some great tips for structuring your soloist’s day out in this article.
Take some tools
You won’t need the big flip charts or the fancy projector. But you will need plenty of paper and coloured pens, and maybe some relevant reference material. (On my recent day out, I took the conference papers I wanted to look over).
Leave some tools behind
Leave your phone and email devices, and maybe even your laptop, at home.
I know. It’s radical. Scary even.
When I forgot my phone, my anxiety (okay, panic) subsided when I realised that being out of contact for a day to work on my own business is really no different to being offline because I’m with clients or at a conference. I went to check my phone several times, and when I couldn’t, I just got on with the tasks at hand – which incidentally were way more fun than checking voicemail would have been.
I had more focus too – after all, it takes several minutes to get back on track after reading an email.
Do yourself a favour. Give your day the priority it deserves. Ditch the phone.
Tap into your creativity, get productive and enjoy your offsite!
Have you tried an offsite business planning day? What are your tips? What planning and creativity strategies work for you?