What started off as an idea for a fun meet-up to “talk shop” turned into a strategic Creative Business Planning retreat with deep connection, personal vulnerability, business breakthroughs and plenty of fun and laughter! Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet up with Melissa and Anne in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, to dive into identifying the ultimate goals of each of our businesses and mapping out the steps to reach those.
I’ll spare you all the nerdy details, but I basically have a tool that helps you to identify one key long-term goal and the steps it takes to get there. Perhaps most importantly, it helps you to monitor whether you’re on the right track or not. I based this on a framework for which I’d built a bit of an expertise in my former career in the international development sector. It’s called the “logframe” and it was totally my jam. I missed using this on a regular basis (this may shock you if you’re familiar with the logframe!) and was excited to see that I could reformulate it to use in building and strengthening my business as well. Having the opportunity to share this tool with other creative entrepreneurs in inspiring locations is an absolute treat!
I met Melissa and Anne in person at Craftcation in 2017 (they met there in person in 2016). We all get so much out of the amazing conference that is Craftcation (we’re all attending again this year and they will both be teaching!), but something special happened on our way to LAX, too. We got to really home in on our own specific businesses in a small, safe environment. We talked about our fears and struggles, what we thought was going well and not-so-well and were in a space where we could be truly candid with ourselves and each other. We were able to both give and take positive and negative feedback in a way that felt entirely productive and without personal judgement. The few hours in the car added a layer of such clarity. We wanted to recreate that space in a more formal manner at the beginning of this year, with an agenda and set objectives. We also all recognized the benefit that would come from taking ourselves out of our “natural habitat” for a short week to focus on goals and strategies together.
When planning our retreat, I knew we’d be putting in a lot of intensive work hours, so location and aesthetics were both important. I found this inspiring art-filled apartment on Airbnb that was ideal for this type of retreat. Not only is it centrally located in colorful Old San Juan, but the airy courtyard to which the kitchen and living room open made it a refreshing place to work. Puerto Rico was devastated by hurricane Maria last fall, and a large portion of the island is still without power. However, San Juan recently got its power back though and the people have done an amazing job of rebuilding. They are more than happy to receive tourists – especially overnight guests who stay in apartments and hotels and spend money in restaurants – and we were happy to oblige!
The “aha!” moments that occurred during our time together were so exhilarating! Both Melissa and Anne nailed down a few shifts in their businesses that could have monumental impact. I cannot wait to see how these develop and take off! They also helped me to refine my framework a bit further to keep it grounded in creative small business planning. I am excited to develop more intimate planning retreats in inspiring locations and offer these to creative entrepreneurs! I feel confident that these events can be true game changers, and it’s an honor to have a hand in creating the space for breakthroughs to occur.
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(photos 1 and 2 by Melissa Q of A Happy Stitch)