Why you need a mid-year planning retreat
The new Financial Year is almost upon us, and unlike the craziness of the December/January silly season, it’s the perfect time to take a break from your business and plan for your coming year’s business success.
The change over of the financial year is the perfect time to review your business’ performance and set new goals and action plans.
Unlike the beginning of the calendar year (or the end of the previous one, if you’re one of those rare diligent people), the New Financial Year is not tainted by the stress, excitement and general busy-ness of the Christmas/New Year period, when we are often world-weary from a full year of running a business and managing other areas of our lives. Nor are we distracted by the lure of sand and surf, have kids on school holidays under our heels, or fall prone to the general laziness that accompanies the long days of Summer.
Booking yourself in for a mid-year Planning Retreat will take you out of the day-to-day of your business so you can focus without distraction. Generally, you’ll only need a single day to get most of your reviewing and planning underway – sometimes only a few spare hours.
Personally, I like to head to the beach – there really is nothing like listening the waves while to clear my head, making room for new ideas and a fresh perspective. I spend the first hour or so walking along the shoreline or with sitting on the sand, in reflection and quiet contemplation, and then head to a nearby beach-front restaurant to treat myself to a yummy lunch while I work through the rest of my plan. Then it’s back to the beach for a last reflection, before I head home.
But you may prefer a cosy café, a city hotel room or even a facilitated planning workshop or coaching session so you can bounce your ideas around with an experienced mentor.
So gather your data, your previous year’s plans (if you have them) and disappear for a day to give your business (and yourself) the time you need to prepare for a successful year ahead.
Here are a few ideas about what your Planning Retreat might look like:
1. Reflection and gratitude
Taking time to reflect and review the past year gives you a chance to stop and appreciate your business, rather than constantly feeling like you are always on the go.
List your achievements, acknowledge your challenges (and how you have overcome them) and celebrate a little. Review your financial goals and any key performance indicators (KPIs) you may have set last year, and see how you are tracking.
I also like to include a little “gratitude” reflection at the beginning of my Retreat – focussing on each of my clients in my mind’s eye and thanking them for working with me over the past year and investing in their business success. Alternatively, you might like to focus on just one person in your business (a customer, supplier, collaborative partner) and look more deeply at how you have impacted their life in the past year. You might even imagine them thanking you for your support, whether or not they have done so in real life.
Doing these exercises allows you to refocus on your WHY and recharge your enthusiasm for your business, ready for the coming year.
2. Review your ideal customer profile, current offers and pricing
Our businesses are constantly evolving and 12 months can be a long time, especially if you are fairly new in business, and you may have discovered new market opportunities since you last set these.
Is your Ideal Customer Profile still relevant? Are there any new target customers that you might like to help? (And if you don’t have an Ideal Customer Profile yet, now is the perfect chance to create one)!
Are you still loving what you do? Are you making enough money from your current portfolio of products or services? Perhaps a Portfolio Review is in order.
Are you still feeling valued by your customers, or are you starting to feel like you are working too hard for too little money? Maybe it’s time to review your pricing. Mid-year is a perfect time for a price rise or to release new packages that offer great value for your customers AND are more profitable for you.
3. Do a marketing audit
Generally speaking, as a soloist, there is only so much marketing promotion you can do before you run out of enthusiasm and energy! And you have a business to run, remember? So it’s important to know what works best for YOUR business.
Which of your marketing promotional channels worked best in the previous year? Where did you get the best return on investment (ROI)? If something is working well, consider investing additional resources on them in the coming year. If you don’t know, perhaps you need to prioritise implementing a method of tracking (e.g. setting up Google Analytics on your website) so you can measure this in future.
Are there any new things you would like to try out? Do you want to play around with a new social media platform, or try out producing a podcast? Learning something new can be exciting, but remember it is also a drain on your limited “marketing energy” supply. Being strategic and having awareness of what is involved, will help ensure you get the most bang for your buck (in time, money and energy), rather than constantly being distracted by “bright shiny objects”.
4. Set new goals, KPIs and rewards
I like to keep this pretty simple, but I do ensure I set the following:
- 3-4 BIG Goals or Projects (both business and personal)
- Monthly income target
- New client target
- Email list size
- Social Media following
Then choose a reward to help you celebrate when you’ve achieved your goals. If you’re motivated by external rewards (not everyone is), these will also help keep you on track. Your reward doesn’t need to cost much (or any) money. Often time to yourself or with someone special is reward enough for a busy soloist!
Be realistic – you want to stretch yourself a little, but you don’t want to be disheartened by goals that end up well beyond your reach.
Most importantly, write them down!
5. Create a rough Yearly Plan
You might like to do this in pencil – because let’s face it, plans change!
List your special projects, income goals, promotional campaigns or themes, and key business milestones and pop them into a yearly calendar so you can view them all at once. I often recommend to my clients to choose just one marketing Focus Task a month. Sometimes with really big projects, such as a branding project, new website or product launch, these may have to be broken into smaller tasks across several months.
Doing this will help keep those feelings of overwhelm at bay – there is always plenty to do in a business, but it can be a relief to know that you don’t have to do everything RIGHT NOW!
Don’t make more detailed plans at this stage – this is better tackled on a monthly or weekly basis, as you will have more clarity about what needs to be done closer to the time.
6. Embed your Goals
Before you rush back into your life, take a little extra time to let your new goals sink in.
Go for a walk in nature, do a short meditation or just review your goals while sitting quietly, sipping a beverage of your choice. Don’t ruminate too hard, but do reflect enough to allow some inspiration and excitement to start bubbling up.
Remember, you’re in your own business for a reason, and that’s got to be worth enjoying.
I hope you have a great Retreat!
Cath Connell is passionate about helping micro and small business owners take a more “wholehearted” approach, and build a successful business WITHIN a life. She is the founder of Wholehearted Marketing, a boutique marketing consultancy providing 1:1 consulting and mentoring, training workshops, practical resources and hands-on support.