Slow Summer? It’s a Perfect Time to Assess Strategy

There’s nothing like spending some time away from the office to reassess your business strategy at a corporate retreat. Even if it’s just a half-day to focus on big projects or hash out company objectives with your team, that time away can be invaluable.

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A recent article in Inc. magazine mapped out the importance of retreats – that simply taking the time to do a retreat can eliminate the daily distractions of the office and set the tone that your business is important and is worth the extra time and focus.

 

Start with a goal
Where to begin when planning a retreat? The first step is to have a goal in mind. What do you want to accomplish? What path do you need to take to kick off that big project, or land that new client? It’s also important to completely separate yourself from the business.

 

That can be hard for many small business owners, since our identity is often closely tied to what we do. But you don’t want it to cloud your judgment about how the business should be operating. Call on a trusted business partner who can play the “devil’s advocate” role, while you concentrate on the big picture goals for your business.

 

Decide who to invite
The Inc. article emphasized that your business goals are what determines who you invite to your retreat. It may be just you and your senior leadership team, but if you’re a small company (under 50 employees, for example), it might make more sense to invite your employees, too.

 

Or, if you’re just focusing on one segment of the business (sales or marketing, for example), invite only those teams in that line of business. If your business goal includes serving customers better, it may be wise to invite a few key customers for their insights.

 

Put it down on paper
A proper assessment means thinking critically about where your business is now, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and identifying potential opportunities. Make a list of the positives, where you are now (i.e. the reality check”), and your assessment. Keep in mind that the reality check list should include successes and accomplishments thus far, as well as business goals that haven’t been met, challenges and other setbacks.

 

Your assessment should include ways you can improve your business, taking into consideration the things you can change (streamlined work flows, for example) and things you can’t (the economy or industry issues). This is where a company – or customer – brainstorm can come in handy. Ask both employees and your leadership team for ideas on how the business can improve, what new business opportunities there are that you might have overlooked, and where you can reinvent your business so that it’s on the path to success.

 

Take action
The goal of a business retreat is to come away with a list of action items so that you can put your business on the right growth path once the retreat has ended. It should also energize you and get you excited about your new strategy – whether that includes new ways to get customers, a new product line, or reinvention of a current product or service.

 

You should also be able to identify key staff and/or customers who will take that action and give you the support you need to put your goals into play. Set a timeline for your goals/action items, and do a re-check in three to six months to make sure you’re on the right track.

 

Your Turn: Have you ever done a business retreat? What were the results? What advice would you give to other businesses planning a retreat? Let us know!

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