Many company owners are so busy running their business that they can’t imagine taking time away to strategize about how they will move forward, so they simply don’t. Others don’t see the importance of planning, so they don’t make it a priority.

Steve Barkhouse, president of Amsted Construction, in Stittsville, Ontario, feels this is a mistake. Although his company had a business plan, he says, “We were getting frustrated because we weren’t doing the kind of planning we really wanted to. So we began our Annual Retreat.”

Barkhouse suggests the following:

• Choose a location away from the office. “The environment helps us be creative and get reenergized, so we hold the retreat in a nice location. ... We have a meeting room with a projector and screen so that everyone can see the materials together.”

• Prepare before the retreat. For Barkhouse, this includes creating a preliminary budget for the coming year, studying the status of previous business improvement initiatives, and reviewing performance metrics for staff.

• Set a goal. “We [knew we] could reach our business goals ... but we wouldn’t be successful because we would have still missed hitting our personal goals,” Barkhouse says. Each person should be required to build a personal plan. Start with compensation and how much each employee needs to live a good lifestyle. Use that to help determine how much the company must produce to help each person reach their goals.

“We leave these meetings feeling energized and with a clarity of purpose that helps us stay focused on the priorities throughout the year,” Barkhouse says. For Amsted Construction, the proof is in the pudding. The company has grown each year, creating a long list of happy clients, building a strong team of accomplished staff members, and delivering above-average profits to the bottom line.

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Rest & Regroup: Company retreats help build a strong team and set business goals
Couples’ Retreat: Dealing with the special business issues of married business partners
Too Busy to Take Stock? An annual meeting is a commitment to improve