A few months ago, I held my first-ever annual business retreat. It was a jam-packed week of planning, strategizing, and hundreds of sticky notes. I had been meaning to do it for years, after being prompted by edibuddy Melanie Padgett Powers to do so. And it was AMAZING.
But why I would need an entire week to retreat, especially given that I’m a solopreneur of my editorial business, Edits by Julia? After all, I’ve been operating since 2015 just fine.
Well … 2021 was my year to PIVOT. My role as managing editor of a small boutique publishing company came to a (sad) end after three years. Health issues in the summer months left me with only enough stamina to work about one or two hours a day, so I had to cut back significantly. And I wanted to scale my little business to a much greater and more profitable one.
In addition to all that, I knew there would be numerous benefits to dedicating this focused time, such as these:
- Aiming the business in a clear direction with specific stretch goals and solid mission, vision, and values
- Determining monthly, weekly, and daily priorities to ensure I am working on the most critical tasks
- Gaining clarity on my ideal client (self-publishing nonfiction authors) and a method of tracking and marketing to them, while also discouraging others (such as fiction authors or writers who need coaching)
- Establishing processes for all common tasks (including what to do with that To Be Read folder where I toss all the emails and blog posts I never seem to have time to read)
So I went all-in. During this extraordinarily productive week, I created 113 tasks within 14 categories, then distilled these down to the essential action items I wanted to complete during the retreat. Here is a breakdown of some of the tasks I completed that week by category.
- Created my company mission, vision, and values.
- Conducted a SWOT analysis of my business to identify strengths I could leverage, weaknesses I could improve upon, opportunities to implement new services or processes, and threats to preempt or minimize.
- Established eight goals for 2022; documented them in my e-planner (Zinnia) and also on visible cards near my desk.
- Created a Client Tracker spreadsheet to document contact info, referrals, and testimonials.
- Noted expiration dates for state and town biz licenses and added reminders to renew by end of year.
Learning & Development
- Finished reading “The Six-Figure Freelancer” by Laura Briggs; captured notes (from Kindle highlights) and added relevant tasks to my to-do list.
- Started reading “The Freelance Editor’s Handbook” by Suzy Bills.
- Registered for Stephanie Chandler’s (always virtual) Nonfiction Writers Conference.
- Attended the social media event Planathon 2021 by Amber McCue, featuring 18 sessions on enhancing productivity and effectiveness for entrepreneurs.
- Scanned 110+ episodes of Melanie’s Deliberate Freelancer podcast, put the topics in priority order, and started listening.
- Updated my LinkedIn profile and started posting daily.
- Added my EBJ virtual biz card (with logo and services) to my email signature.
- Made a list of all the processes within my biz that I should document.
- Signed up for Calendly to facilitate 1:1 meeting scheduling. (It’s almost like having an assistant!)
- Confirmed that my former website pages, which I had taken down during my years as managing editor, were still on Wix. (PHEW!)
- Repurchased the URL EditsbyJulia.com (thankfully still available).
Here are my other categories:
- Books (relating to grammar, editing, writing, self-publishing, and such)
- Clients (analyzing my current ones, determining my perfect avatars)
- Conferences (currently 8 on my list)
- Processes (as in documenting them for consistency, automation, and efficiency)
- Rates & Income
- Tools & Resources (apps, productivity tools, references books/sites, templates)
So now what? How do I keep this momentum going to ensure I take my business to the next level in 2022?
For one thing, I’ve scheduled monthly CEO Days (final Fridays) when I review goals, document income and expenses, and plan for the coming 30 days and beyond. I revisit my ginormous to-do list and determine the next 10 or so key tasks.
Ultimately, I’ve learned it’s all about priorities. You should always be working on the most critical task … striving toward the most compelling goal … reading the book that will have the greatest impact on your life. And surrounding yourself with the dopest and most positive edibuddies, as I’ve found in the ACES community, who will offer support and assistance as your virtual team members.
I’d love to hear about your retreat or business planning session. Feel free to email me at EditsbyJulia123@gmail.com or connect with me on LinkedIn!
Header Photo by Marko Ganzaro on Unsplash.