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Have an away-day with yourself

Hotel Lobby

In this, the first in a series of blog posts aimed at us solopreneurs, sole-traders, self-employed, portfolio-career types, the focus is having an ‘away-day’ with yourself. Management teams in companies have them, so why shouldn’t we?

I’m a strong advocate of this ‘time-out.’ I have a business ‘away-day’ at least once a year. It’s time to think, to strategise, to brainstorm and sometimes just to clear my head, so I can see the wood from the trees.

people buy the love you put inThe important factor in having a successful ‘away-day’ with yourself is to ensure you have physical and psychic distance from your normal work routines. A different environment will stimulate different thoughts, or at minimum give you space to think. Just as you won’t check emails, take calls, or surf the web during an important business meeting, the phone should be on silent and laptop left at home. Make sure you bring a pen and pad though, to capture all your insights and ideas.

 

Why is an away day important for your business?

It is vital that we spend some time working on, not just in, our business. Over the years, I’ve struggled to view my business objectively, to see it as a separate entity. (We are always more than what we do, but this can be tricky when our work is our passion.) General busyness and daily urgencies will always trump what’s truly important. An ‘away-day’ allows me to refocus, to assess the trajectory of my business and to plot next steps.

Not only do I generate ideas for the development of my business during these away days, but as corny as it sounds, it allows me to fall more deeply in love with what I do. Not only does this refuel and motivate me (as I reconnect with the motive in motivation!) but over the years I’ve found that my clients aren’t just buying my services, they are buying the love I put into what I do. I suspect it is the same for your business. An ‘away-day’ is like going on a date with your business, it allows you to rekindle your love for what you do.

An 'away-day' is like going on a date with your business,it allows you to rekindle your love for what you do. Click To Tweet

If you are a regular visitor to my website and blog you will know that I go on an annual retreat every July. This is not the same as an away day. My retreat is where I resource (or Re-Source) myself, a business ‘away day’ has a clear agenda – to view my business objectively and to determine medium and long term strategy.

I like nice hotels (who doesn’t) and a favourite venue for my ‘away day’ is the K Club. It is close enough to the city, has a nice lounge area, and there are some beautiful walks by the Liffey. It also has a spa if I choose to treat myself at the end of the day (an owner/ manager perk!)

Questions to stimulate your thinking

New questions are the prerequisites to new insights. When I facilitate away days for management teams, I pose questions to help stimulate the group’s thinking and to encourage brainstorming. Here’s some of those questions to assist you on your away-day.

  • What’s working well?
  • What’s not quite a strength yet?
  • What am I doing inconsistently well?
  • What needs updating or modernising?
  • If my business was working perfectly over the next 2 years what would be happening?
  • What KPI (key performance indicator) would be useful to establish and track?
  • What do I need to stop doing? (Always a definition of working smarter!)
  • What do I need to start doing?
  • What decision have I been putting off?
  • How can I enhance the relationship with my key clients?
  • How could I make my business more visible to my ideal clients?
  • Do I need to fine-tune my definition of ideal clients?
  • How could I get more findable?
  • By exercising a little more creativity what could I try?
  • By exercising a little more courage what could I try?
  • What additional skill or skill set would add value to my business? Could I learn about it or hire in that skill?

If you are struggling a little with motivation, or simply want to get your groove back – these two questions will help.

  • Why do I do what I do?
  • What attracted me to what I do in the first place?
  • How could I reinvent what I’m doing – add new life into it?

By the end of the away-day you will have brainstormed many ideas. It’s then useful to narrow your focus by listing your top priorities for the next 12 months?

As business owners, it is easy to forget that we have choices as regards how we spend our time. Just as in any busy, time is a resource, so it makes sense that we know how we are utilising it. Whilst it is an investment of our time, an outcome of an ‘away-day’ will always be greater clarity as regards how your time is best spent in your business.

Management teams have away-days to foster team cohesion and to brainstorm. The same benefits are available to us sole-traders and owner managers – greater alignment in terms of what we are doing and the direction in which we are heading, and a renewed sense of purpose.

In the next article in this series I’ll be exploring the idea of having your own Board of Directors.

You might also enjoy – The Gift of Quiet Time

My new podcast

Do check out my podcast called ‘Your Time With James Sweetman’ which is live on iTunesPodbean and Stitcher. Do subscribe, leave a review and please tell your friends and community.

If you ever want to work with me in a coaching capacity then check out my services here.

Best wishes

James