How to plan a business retreat (even when life is too busy)

September 28, 2022

A few months ago I had my first business retreat. I’ve done them with my copywriter business mastermind, and with some girlfriends who double as business buddies. But this was something I needed just for me and my own business. 

I’ve heard people in my copywriter circle talk about these retreats before and it felt so…extra? A bit bougie? But I’m here to say IT’S NOT EXTRA. Especially if you’re a working parent or caregiver whose discretionary time is filled with a Lego bin full of responsibilities.

When you own a small business, especially if you are the main team member, you need to get the big-picture perspective so that you aren’t overrun by the menial day-to-day tasks. 

This last June, I was put-a-fork-in-me DONE. I wasn’t sleeping well and was basically ONLY ever working on client work. Which, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy. But I’m a writer and creator first, and if I’m not giving myself space, then I’m losing some of the art that makes the work I do impactful.

And to be totally honest, I just needed a break from the family responsibilities. 

If you find yourself in a similar boat, here are the steps to successfully take a mini-retreat for YOU and your business. 

  1. Value: Decide you’re worth it

    • Decide that your brain, your health, and your time, are worth the space to rest and dream and take a break. This, honestly, might be the biggest hurdle.

    • Until you decide it’s worth it, it’s going to continue to be an idea, not a reality…and you’re going to continue working yourself into burnout. 

  2. What’s your why: Set the intention for the day

    • There are lots of great ideas on what to do or how to run a successful business retreat, but you have to decide what you need most at this moment. IFor me in this season, my number one goal was to get a full night’s sleep because I have a baby. 

    • I also needed to work uninterrupted on my own business because that had been in the periphery (see the aforementioned baby).

    • Note: This was NOT a vision casting retreat. I do that every January, so this was not the season for big dreaming. I needed time to just get. stuff. done. 

  3. Make a place: Determine the best location for productivity for this stage of your life/business

    • I didn’t drive very far because my time was limited and I wanted to maximize every second. 

    • I found a good coffee shop with WiFi where I wasn’t likely to run into a friend or my neighbor’s cousin. In fact, I did not tell many people I was doing this because I knew I would be too easily persuaded to just chat it up at a long lunch instead of hitting my goals. 

    • I made sure to pack snacks, water, pumping supplies, etc. Basically, I tried to anticipate every obstacle that might suck up what precious time I had, and handle whatever needed to be handled. 

  4. Brain Dump: Before you start, give your brain permission to think about everything

    • Instead of diving right in with my agenda, I gave myself time to write down everything that was rolling around in my head.

    • Yes, there is time for structure. B, but inherent in the goals of this retreat was to give me white space to think and dream. And sometimes, those random little thoughts are the bud of a really good idea. 

    • So, I gave them a place. I jotted down a bunch of thoughts, circling the priority ones. And then if there were little things that might get in the way I just knocked those out. I know this time was for my business, not client work, but there were some things that could just deal with really quickly that would help my brain focus. So I did that. Then I read a bit from a marketing book to slow my pace but also get me into the right head space. 

  5. Make an Agenda: Be realistic and practical about what can actually get done

    • In the future, I’ll probably make an agenda ahead of time. But this time, I didn’t do it until I sat down that day. 

    • I was really clear about what I could actually accomplish during my time, so then I made the task list according to what was realistic, not probable. I wanted a win!

    • Side note: it was so fun to just say, “this is all I have to do!” 

  6. Make it fun: Meet up with a local business buddy! 

    • I’m an extroverted introvert, so while I knew I’d be fine working on my own, I also knew it would fill my soul to have real, in-person connection. (And so I wouldn’t just work all night and barely sleep.)

    • So, I went to dinner with a local business owner friend, and we talked about work and life and ate the best Happy Hour our town offers.

On the second day, I essentially just jumped back into the agenda I had made the day before. I journaled some reflections and then got in the zone on my own projects. Knowing I had ample time made me feel free to truly enjoy the work instead of feeling rushed and anxious about what I didn’t get to accomplish.

I ended by sitting outside in the sun reading, and as I’m typing this I’m thinking, “was this a dream?!” I’ve got a wine glass, tater tots, and Bitchin’ sauce next to me as I wrap up the evening, and I’m nowhere near that day’s rhythm.

But I believe in this process, and am using this blog as accountability to book one for Quarter 4. 

Years ago I read a book (okay, a few) about rest and being present. I remember texting a good friend about the concept, asking her how we are supposed to adopt a slower pace of life in the world of online marketing, entrepreneurship, etc. We both felt the challenge to infuse our values around time, energy, and family into the way we ran our business.

I am NOT naturally disposed to a slower pace, so I need to schedule it in. In fact, I need to pay for it, otherwise, I won’t allow it to happen.

So if you’re looking to have more balance in your life…or you just need a break? Book the hotel or the co-working space and mark it off on your calendar.

It’s go time—for you.

Work with me

share this post

hey, i'm corrie!

I help people-driven companies, large and small, connect with their kind of people with brand voice strategy + personalized copy. A believer in public schools and Ted Lasso, I love getting to champion the best version of your brand. 

A few months ago I had my first business retreat. I’ve done them with my copywriter business mastermind, and with some girlfriends who double as business buddies. But this was something I needed just for me and my own business. 

I’ve heard people in my copywriter circle talk about these retreats before and it felt so…extra? A bit bougie? But I’m here to say IT’S NOT EXTRA. Especially if you’re a working parent or caregiver whose discretionary time is filled with a Lego bin full of responsibilities.

When you own a small business, especially if you are the main team member, you need to get the big-picture perspective so that you aren’t overrun by the menial day-to-day tasks. 

This last June, I was put-a-fork-in-me DONE. I wasn’t sleeping well and was basically ONLY ever working on client work. Which, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy. But I’m a writer and creator first, and if I’m not giving myself space, then I’m losing some of the art that makes the work I do impactful.

And to be totally honest, I just needed a break from the family responsibilities. 

If you find yourself in a similar boat, here are the steps to successfully take a mini-retreat for YOU and your business. 

  1. Value: Decide you’re worth it

    • Decide that your brain, your health, and your time, are worth the space to rest and dream and take a break. This, honestly, might be the biggest hurdle.

    • Until you decide it’s worth it, it’s going to continue to be an idea, not a reality…and you’re going to continue working yourself into burnout. 

  2. What’s your why: Set the intention for the day

    • There are lots of great ideas on what to do or how to run a successful business retreat, but you have to decide what you need most at this moment. IFor me in this season, my number one goal was to get a full night’s sleep because I have a baby. 

    • I also needed to work uninterrupted on my own business because that had been in the periphery (see the aforementioned baby).

    • Note: This was NOT a vision casting retreat. I do that every January, so this was not the season for big dreaming. I needed time to just get. stuff. done. 

  3. Make a place: Determine the best location for productivity for this stage of your life/business

    • I didn’t drive very far because my time was limited and I wanted to maximize every second. 

    • I found a good coffee shop with WiFi where I wasn’t likely to run into a friend or my neighbor’s cousin. In fact, I did not tell many people I was doing this because I knew I would be too easily persuaded to just chat it up at a long lunch instead of hitting my goals. 

    • I made sure to pack snacks, water, pumping supplies, etc. Basically, I tried to anticipate every obstacle that might suck up what precious time I had, and handle whatever needed to be handled. 

  4. Brain Dump: Before you start, give your brain permission to think about everything

    • Instead of diving right in with my agenda, I gave myself time to write down everything that was rolling around in my head.

    • Yes, there is time for structure. B, but inherent in the goals of this retreat was to give me white space to think and dream. And sometimes, those random little thoughts are the bud of a really good idea. 

    • So, I gave them a place. I jotted down a bunch of thoughts, circling the priority ones. And then if there were little things that might get in the way I just knocked those out. I know this time was for my business, not client work, but there were some things that could just deal with really quickly that would help my brain focus. So I did that. Then I read a bit from a marketing book to slow my pace but also get me into the right head space. 

  5. Make an Agenda: Be realistic and practical about what can actually get done

    • In the future, I’ll probably make an agenda ahead of time. But this time, I didn’t do it until I sat down that day. 

    • I was really clear about what I could actually accomplish during my time, so then I made the task list according to what was realistic, not probable. I wanted a win!

    • Side note: it was so fun to just say, “this is all I have to do!” 

  6. Make it fun: Meet up with a local business buddy! 

    • I’m an extroverted introvert, so while I knew I’d be fine working on my own, I also knew it would fill my soul to have real, in-person connection. (And so I wouldn’t just work all night and barely sleep.)

    • So, I went to dinner with a local business owner friend, and we talked about work and life and ate the best Happy Hour our town offers.

On the second day, I essentially just jumped back into the agenda I had made the day before. I journaled some reflections and then got in the zone on my own projects. Knowing I had ample time made me feel free to truly enjoy the work instead of feeling rushed and anxious about what I didn’t get to accomplish.

I ended by sitting outside in the sun reading, and as I’m typing this I’m thinking, “was this a dream?!” I’ve got a wine glass, tater tots, and Bitchin’ sauce next to me as I wrap up the evening, and I’m nowhere near that day’s rhythm.

But I believe in this process, and am using this blog as accountability to book one for Quarter 4. 

Years ago I read a book (okay, a few) about rest and being present. I remember texting a good friend about the concept, asking her how we are supposed to adopt a slower pace of life in the world of online marketing, entrepreneurship, etc. We both felt the challenge to infuse our values around time, energy, and family into the way we ran our business.

I am NOT naturally disposed to a slower pace, so I need to schedule it in. In fact, I need to pay for it, otherwise, I won’t allow it to happen.

So if you’re looking to have more balance in your life…or you just need a break? Book the hotel or the co-working space and mark it off on your calendar.

It’s go time—for you.

Work with me

hey, i'm corrie!

I help people-driven companies, large and small, connect with their kind of people with brand voice strategy + personalized copy. A believer in public schools and Ted Lasso, I love getting to champion the best version of your brand. 

share this post

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