What a difference three days can make, when guided by a motivational business mentor in a beautiful, inspiring location.
After travelling from York to Caerphilly to Middlewich delivering to clients, it was time to ‘sit back’ and ‘relax’ as I headed for Windermere to meet up with Gary King of Tendo, our leader for the next few days, and the other delegates on Tendo’s ‘Time Out Retreat’. The journey gave me a chance to ‘mull over’ my preparatory work and consider what could possibly unfold over the next few days.
Our location for the Retreat was the wonderful 4* hotel – Langdale Chase, where a delightful stay was had by all, with most welcoming and totally accommodating staff, enchanting décor and rooms, and breath-taking views of Lake Windermere and beyond.
I had awaited the first day with excitement and anticipation – a bit like a child waiting for Christmas; this was my opportunity to explore with other small business owners, what was genuinely possible. Business development can be a bewildering experience, but I have worked with Gary since his Business Booster programme in 2017, and he had already helped me to grow my business – increasing its turnover and profit in a short space of time. Yet, I had not really accepted the full potential the business had.
After five years, Jane Fisher Associates Ltd is a ‘survival’ statistic, for which I am immensely proud, as around 40% of new businesses fail to make this milestone. But for an ambitious individual who aims for excellence and personal success, neither ‘survival’ nor ‘sufficiency’ bode well with my values .. boldness was the order of the day in order to take the business to the next level and make it even more successful … but how? Where do you start, when delivering ‘change management’ and ‘service improvement’ is your ‘bag’ – your area of expertise, and not business development? Step in, Gary and his ‘Time Out Retreat’.Walking to the seminar room under a glorious blue sky, the sun glimmering on the lake and a beautiful array of autumnal colours all around me, it really set the tone for magic! The sessions were held in one of the beautiful, oak-panelled rooms overlooking Lake Windermere with awesome views extending to the Langdales … a fitting space to help inspire us in what was to be an unparalleled business development experience. The location, the isolation and the small number of like-minded, positive and aspirational small business owners allowed us to become totally immersed in the experience – totally focussed on learning from Gary as well as each other through sharing our challenges and successes along the way. In addition, we learnt from Kelly Tyler, a Marketing Executive & Coach, who delivered engaging sessions remotely from her base in London.
The journey commenced with our current challenges, and what drove us to be part of this ‘merry bunch’. Our obstacles … cash flow, customer pipeline, lack of planning, clarity of offering, resources, sales and marketing …were just a few of the resonating issues that we faced – all creating barriers to our greater business ambitions … and in some cases being further hindered by a lack of ‘self-belief’, ‘self-doubt’ or a ‘lack of confidence’.
However, three days later, what a transformation! I came away buzzing – full of ideas and new found freedom as the straight jacket of uncertainty had been removed. New found ‘business’ confidence oozed from my very tired brain. We had our ‘Strategy on A Page’ – a master road map from Vision to Business Growth Indicators, supported by five focussed Strategies around Operations, Finance, Marketing, Sales and Talent.
But this had been a tough ‘gig’ – no easy three day retreat that generated hot-aired advice or group discussions that led to vague outcomes. We worked solidly – with ‘homework’ – yes homework, that took us into the evening or in my case, an early start, to enable us to build and write up our Strategy on a Page. But don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of time left to ‘chew the cud’ and have a laugh with colleagues over drinks in the bar and scrumptious meals – which was refreshing! Hitting the gym is also now on my Action Plan!
The programme was challenging – it certainly took me out of my comfort zone and stretched my thinking, creative skills and belief. But, the camaraderie and support from both Gary and everyone else on the Retreat was palpable; positivity was in abundance and saturated the air as we were awakened to the opportunities and possibilities that lay in front of us. Personal excitement was contagious. There was mutual respect and encouragement from all, plus the sharing of individual participant expertise such as Finances and Marketing, which was magical. It felt brilliant to be in such a positive and upbeat environment, away from the often mundane activities of day-to-day working life, and able to totally focus ‘on the business’.
Every session delivered ‘light bulb moments’. For example, during Kelly’s marketing input, the ‘penny dropped’ regarding the power of lead generation activities as well as social media. My eyes were opened through discussions and jigsaw pieces started to join up to give me the clarity that had been missing … even clearing the mental block that I have had for years over ‘avatars’!So, how did I feel at the end of it? Exhausted yet in a perverse way, energised! Many programmes and presenters can be inspirational, but this retreat was more .. it was motivational, leaving you with the strong desire and the commitment to get out there and put the plan into action … especially with the accountability follow-ups laid down by Gary. What was also different was that Gary has ‘walked the talk’ – he’s ‘been there and got the t-shirt’ – his first-hand experience and extensive knowledge giving you confidence – he really did know his stuff!
So, the end part – what has this programme achieved? Well, for me it has been a catalyst of transformation for both myself and my business: I have my Strategy on a Page … giving me my road map to grow my business and make it more successful, my ‘Plan’ – with steps already being put into action, helped by my growing team of talent. But more than that, I now have direction and self-belief, alongside the knowledge and confidence to take Jane Fisher Associates to the next level.
So, this Retreat was more than a journey of business development. It was enlightening – an awakening of a ‘dream’ with the initiation of those incremental steps to make it reality.
My sincere thanks go to:
And my great bunch of business soul-searching Retreat partners!
Andy Smith & Paul Johnson – Crimson Bear … with their warmth of support and their bounce, wit and energy lightening up the way
Debbie Whitaker – ‘Not Just Numbers’ … for her individual support and spontaneous ‘Finances’ masterclass that cleared the ‘muddy waters’
Emma Molloy – MAR Associates Consultancy … for her infectious enthusiasm and sharing of marketing strategy expertise
Julie Bickerdyke – ‘Not just an FD’ … for her unending positivity and supporting financial prowess
Julie Mc Geever & Lucy Sud – DIB Development … for their pulsing energy and contagious ever-increasing optimism around their own business growth, alongside the potential for collaborative ventures across our two businesses