Retreats for All! (Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur.)

I love what I do.

I love getting engrossed in a project and emerging several hours later with a plan or a really pretty, shiny piece of collateral.

What I did not count on when I jumped into the entrepreneurial life, however, was how completely involved running a company is. Even running a one-woman show with sub-consultants involves more savvy and energy than I had initially appreciated.

(Just the accounting alone is enough to send me round-the-bend batty.)

After almost 9 years of running along my Pebble Road, I have come up with a really good way of injecting imagination, creativity, and new perspective into my world.

Retreats.

Now, there are lots of ways to do retreats. You might be thinking about a corporate retreat right now, where there is lots of brainstorming and eating and planning. That’s not what I’m talking about, although there is nothing wrong with eating.

I’m talking about taking a break from your core business to focus on something that brings you a new perspective, ideas, or even just renewed energy. I have some ideas for you.

A Lecture or Performance

I actually did this back in February. I booked out two entire days to sit in a theatre and watch the TED Talks mainstage sessions. It was free and it truly poured ideas into my brain. I walked away refreshed and ready to bring some new insights into my own business. None of the talks I watched covered business, per se, but they showed how different people think and uncovered some world issues that I hadn’t considered.

A performance? Yes, a performance. If you work in an especially technical field, this is an even better choice. Choose an activity that uses the other side of your brain from the one you usually use.

Afterward, take yourself out to lunch. Marinate in what you’ve just experienced and let your brain start to use it for good.

Give Yourself the Gift of Time

About a year or so ago, I blocked off a three-hour stretch to do “research.” I had a goal in mind. I was writing a non-Pebble Road Marketing-related magazine article just for fun and I needed information. I made a deal with myself. I was just going to book off the time from client projects and commit to it.

I hadn’t anticipated was how energizing it was to have guilt-free research time.

I spent the entire block browsing at the library, reading online articles, taking notes, and using several (yes, there is life outside of Google) search engines to find unique, interesting information. The three hours was technically work time but it was on a task that I don’t usually allow myself the time to do properly and thoroughly.

I emerged from the session feeling prepared for my article and like I’d had a bit of a vacation from the business.

Buddy Up

One of the hardest parts of being a solo entrepreneur is the solo part.

While those working in a group get to bounce ideas off of each other, those of us who are solo talk to the dog. She’s great but prefers napping to marketing. (Well, so do I but one of us needs to make the mortgage payment.)

Why not find 2-4 entrepreneurs whose businesses are at a similar maturity level and plan an activity?

Some ideas:

  • A lunch (or series of lunches) where you discuss a pre-chosen topic
  • Go to a lecture together and have coffee afterward to chat about it
  • Give yourselves a full day of brainstorming and support. Have three entrepreneurs participating? Give 2 hours to each company where the group works on an issue they are having. Make sure there are lots of snacks available and a nice meal break too

PLEASE Let Me Know How it Goes

I love to hear about how entrepreneurs are making it work in this busy world. Please feel free to send me your ideas. I’ll probably use them in a future newsletter or blog post. (Send photos!)

Simply hit return on this email and I’ll get it.