To Move Your Small Business Forward, Take A Step Back

  •    Freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.

It's no small job to be a small business owner. With so many demands for your time, it can be easy to lose focus on your goals, make mistakes or get burned out. That's why it's so important for small business owners to plan an annual retreat.

Mental work requires energy, just like physical tasks. According to Scientific American, “The human brain is in fact a glutton, constantly demanding 20 percent of all the energy the body produces."

Downtime, however, replenishes the brain's stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to helping you achieve your highest levels of performance, the magazine states.

An annual retreat not only helps you recharge, but can also revitalize your business. By taking a step away from the daily churn, small business owners can re-examine priorities, set new goals, and strengthen teamwork and collaboration that can boost long-term productivity and growth.

Break Free Of Tunnel Vision

It's easy to get into a rut when you're inundated with daily tasks and deadlines. But when you're a small business owner, tunnel vision can prevent you from noticing marketplace changes that can impact your business. Taking a break gives you the opportunity to put your head up and survey the competitive landscape to make sure you're in synch with shifting market trends and constantly evolving customer demands.

No matter how big your company is, bringing key people together on a retreat is a smart investment, according to business site SmallBizClub. “It can be an excellent opportunity for strategic planning and action-focused decision making to increase your sales, establish higher levels of customer loyalty, control overhead, improve overall performance, and drive business growth," the site reports.

​Take A Long View

While it's important to keep an eye on what's happening around you, it's equally important for small business owners to also look ahead to create strategies for continued growth. Setting new goals each year is a great way to chart your path and make sure your small business is always heading in the right direction.

Start by evaluating your current goals. If you're feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed, you may need to set smaller milestones to make your goals more manageable, according to marketing site ThriveHive. It's also important to realistically align your goals with your resources to ensure your goals are achievable. Conversely, if you're ahead of schedule on your business plan, a retreat is the perfect time to set new milestones for taking your small business to the next level.

Strengthen Bonds

An annual retreat is also a great way to reinforce teamwork, strengthen bonds and brainstorm ideas. Giving your team a chance to refresh can also increase engagement and productivity when you return. To create a successful retreat, be sure to share your goals for the event and the objectives you hope to achieve before you go.

To make sure everyone collaborates at the retreat, plan a discussion that all participants are comfortable joining, reports Lisa Patrick, CEO of Convention Business Travel. It's also important to do team building that's relevant to work. Forget the ropes course and the wall-climbing, says Patrick, and focus on discussions that create a strong foundation for long-term working relationships that build trust.

No matter how busy you are today, an annual retreat is a great way for your small business to plan for tomorrow's success. Taking a break can recharge your brain, replenish motivation and strengthen bonds to help your business thrive.