One of the best things about freelancing is that there’s no wrong way to do it. There’s no wrong way to review your business or plan for the future, either.
Some freelancers conduct business reviews quarterly. Others do them annually. Some of us do them when (or if) we remember to.
I included myself in that last category, which is why I like to do my business planning in a retreat format. The word retreat makes me think of travel. And while I’ve never done my business review on a tropical beach or at a quiet mountain lodge, calling it a retreat helps me trick my dopamine-starved brain into getting excited about it. This means I’ll be less likely to put it off in favour of client work or just completely forget to do it for yet another year.
There’s no wrong way to plan for a freelance business retreat, but there are a few things you’ll need to make yours a success.
1. Dedicated time
Blocking off a few hours or a whole day in your calendar can help you stick to your planned retreat activities when other opportunities come knocking. It can be tempting to put off strategic planning in favour of billable work or less daunting admin tasks. But in the long run, a lack of strategic planning can cost you money and lower your satisfaction with your work.
2. Your freelance records
You might have a list of clients from the previous year, a spreadsheet of your income and expenses, a work calendar, or maybe the notes and documents you generated during your last business review. Whatever you’ve got, make sure it’s on hand for your retreat.
Looking back at your notes and data will help you figure out what you want more—or less—of as you move forward.
3. Writing materials
What do you prefer for taking notes and brainstorming? A favourite pen, a tablet and stylus, a fully-charged laptop and a fresh Word document? Choose whatever works best for you.
4. Creative fuel
What do you need to keep your energy up and your mind focused as you review your goals? Your list might include things like a pre-made meal, favourite snacks, a full water bottle, coffee or tea, an upbeat playlist, a fidget toy. . . the possibilities are endless.
5. An open mind
Freelancing is flexible. You can change your business any way you want, any time you want, and for any reason. A business retreat is an opportunity to explore your wildest ideas and desires for your business and to question how you’ve been defining success for yourself. Come to your retreat willing to be surprised by what you learn about your business and yourself.
There are as many ways to hold a business retreat as there are to run a freelance business. Have you done a freelance retreat in the past? Are any of your must-haves missing from our list? Share your favourite resources in the comments below!
If you’re looking for camaraderie and accountability as you plan for the future of your business, you’ll want to register for Editors BC’s February professional development seminar.
Join us on Zoom on Friday, February 10, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm for Antihustle: A One-Day Planning Retreat for Your Freelance Business with Letitia Henville. Early bird and member discounts apply.
Kim Harbridge, a fiction writer and editor from Surrey, is co-chair of professional development for Editors BC. You can find her online at http://www.kimharbridge.com.