Last Updated: January 2023
I believe that a business retreat is a powerful thing.
Taking time away from your business to work on it & make it better is a very good use of your time and energy! I run my own business retreats, and of course there are tons of options in the online business world to choose from, happening in far-flung, beautiful travel destinations.
Generally speaking, I think this is a great thing! We all need a bit more reflection and intention in our lives, and taking time out of your regular routine is a powerful way to gain more perspective and clarity.
The thing is, I also believe l that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars in order to have a great retreat experience. You don’t need to work with a “business guru” or go to Tulum in order to find more business clarity.
You have most of the answers you need within you already. While I’d love to host you at a future retreat if you’re local, you can also do it yourself!
It breaks my heart to see entrepreneurs going into crazy amounts of credit card debt (when their business can’t yet sustain the expense), just because they are “sure” that working with this one coach is going to change their lives forever. The truth is, you can probably get 80% of the results for less than 20% of the price by doing your own retreat. The truth is, there are no magic bullets, and no coach can eliminate the hard work that is necessary to do important things.
Which is why I want to share some guidelines for how to create your own business retreat! This is how my friends & I run ours, where we get game-changing results without breaking the bank.
1. Find Friends
While you certainly could retreat on your own, I think it’s 10x more powerful to share and be witnessed by like-minded peers. Finding the right people to retreat with is half the battle, so choose wisely!
I’d recommend a group of no more than four to start with. This ensures that everyone will have enough “floor time” to get the most out of the experience. In my DIY business retreats, there are three of us, and it’s the perfect number.
When you’re deciding who to go on retreat with, here are some questions to consider:
- Am I comfortable sharing vulnerably with this person?
- Does this person have a growth mindset?
- Is this person aware of the challenges of my industry?
- Is this person open-minded and positive?
If the answers are “yes”, you’re off to the races! Also, don’t be afraid to take a retreat with just ONE other person. As long as you’re both on the same page and share similar values, you can still make a lot of progress.
2. Get Away
Any retreat experience is a lot more powerful if it is, in fact, a retreat from your everyday life. If possible, I encourage you to get outside of your home & your routines. Find a cheap hotel room for the day, get a cute Airbnb for the weekend, or house-swap with a friend. Being in a new physical space can unlock a lot of new ideas & inspirations, so it’s worth it to invest here.
If it’s not possible for you to get away, find ways to make your home space feel more like a retreat. Create a cozy corner, get a new notebook, and instruct your family or housemates not to bother you!
3. Keep It Simple
Finding the right format & schedule for your business retreats might take some trial and error, but it’s important to keep it simple. The best schedules have time for group brainstorming & strategy, individual work sprints, free time, and of course delicious meals! You could also include things like intentional movement, taking a training, or giving one another feedback.
At my own business retreats, we swear by a very simple format. Each person gets a single sheet of paper that outlines two major focus areas, with room for notes and action steps on the back. We take turns in the “hot seat”, having everyone else in the group weigh in on the issue & offering solutions while someone else takes notes. Then, we do a coworking session to actually take action on some of the priorities we’ve identified. We repeat this process for a couple hours, then break for food or exercise, then get back to it. It’s simple, repeatable, and effective.
What we do is not as important as the fact that we make time for it. Your schedule might look totally different! You might prefer to have each person “teach” a little class in their area of expertise, or to build in field trips or outings. Or you might need dance breaks – we certainly do! The point is to set the time aside, create that intentional container, and then see what happens. You can always tweak it.
At its core, that’s really it! Those three steps are all you need to create a powerful business retreat that’ll help you find more clarity. But in case you’re still looking for inspiration, here are a few more tips I’ve picked up along the way that help make my retreats more successful:
Include Work Sprints
One of our favourite techniques during the retreat is to do some “work sprints”. We take the solutions we’ve uncovered during our sessions, and put them into action right away. The catch is that we only give ourselves half the amount of time we think we’ll need. It’s amazing how much you can get done by changing your constraints! At one of our retreats, I built almost an entire sales page in less than an hour.
The best part is that afterwards, we get to have a little “show and tell” time to show the rest of the group what we were able to accomplish! Accountability, support, and getting cheered on = the best kind of motivation.
Focus On Action
At our retreats, one of our major tenets is to focus on simple, easy action steps. It can be so easy to get bogged down in reflection, in a way that leaves us feeling even more stuck. So instead, we always set the intention of finding incredibly powerful solutions that we can take action on right away. Seriously, the goal is to identify steps that we can take either the same day or the next day!
Having this focus in mind means that it’s easier to stay positive and keep our forward momentum. Identifying the problem is not enough! We need to figure out how to solve it, or at least tackle it systematically. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when doing this kind of big-picture work, so it’s important to make practical, actionable solutions a focus.
Build In Ritual
Even though you’re only on retreat for a few days, there’s still time to train yourself to be ready to do the work. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create opening and closing rituals for your sessions or days. These signals help set the stage and get you into the zone you need to be in for deep, focused work. Here are some ideas for opening or closing signals:
- Pulling a tarot or oracle card
- Making a fresh pot of tea
- Setting an intention as a group
- Burning palo santo or lighting a candle
- Always sitting in the same spots
- Listening to the same song
- Powering down your phone & laptop
- Setting a timer or alarm
- Going for a walk
Share the Work
When you’re running your own business retreat, you’re also in charge of all the food & cleaning that with it! One way we try to mitigate this is by dividing up the household chores that need to get done alongside the fun stuff. A strategy that works really well is to make each of you responsible for a few of the meals & cleanup, leaving the others to actually get “time off” of the housework during those windows. Or maybe one person is responsible for cleaning up, another for setting up your sessions, and a third for doing the cooking. Or maybe you commit to only ordering in food for a few days!
Whatever solution you choose, there are lots of ways to divvy up the work and still feel like you’ve had a restful & productive retreat.
Do It Yourself
It always seems ironic that one of the best ways to improve your life or business is to take a break from it, but it’s just the way it works. Without creating intentional pauses to reflect, we have a tendency to get caught up in the default way of doing things, and the default is not usually the best fit for our lives & well-being. I host at least one business retreat a year, and do these business retreats for my own business at least twice a year!
I’d love to know: Have you ever created your own retreat, business or otherwise? What do you feel like is getting in the way of you making space for this kind of reflection? What areas of your life do you think would benefit from having a compassionate spotlight shined on them? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @stephpellett.
And if you’re curious to learn more about what a work sprint is like, come join us for a Productivity Party! These are like “mini business retreats” that allow you to get focused work done with extra accountability. Your first one is totally free! ⬇️