I’m undertaking a big review of my business and where I’m going right now. I’m using the concept of the quarterly personal offsite to do it.

The review process

My year starts in September. Though it’s the start of Autumn, or the fall, which in many ways signals the end of the year, in my life it’s always been a time of year for new beginnings. In education the start of a new school year, in college the start of new classes. When I worked as a business accountant in the chemical industry this was the time of year for annual business review and sorting out business strategy for the next 12 months ahead of setting detailed budget. In my current life as a business consultant its the time of year that big new client projects always seem to start.

Rather than set my personal and business goals in January, as many people do, I set them in September. The year then breaks down into three terms, and I break my goals down into what needs to happen in each. The first term, up to Christmas is followed by a natural break which gives an opportunity to review progress and recharge the batteries. In my experience Christmas is full of family stuff and never works for taking extended time out to set goals for the next year, so thats one reason I do this in September. Second term runs to Easter, again this provides a natural break and a few days off to reflect and adjust course. Third term runs from Easter to Summer. Summer comes with extended time off, so is totally the wrong time to be in the middle of executing projects, personal or business, its time to be ending projects, winding down, taking time out, then after a break coming back to think about the next year.

Right now a great deal is happening, and I’m being challenged from all sorts of places. More than any other year I can remember for a while there’s a need to take time out to reflect, work out where things are going, and re-plan. This September requires a big Annual Business Review.

A few weeks ago, driving back from a client, I was listening to a podcast and the idea of a quarterly personal offsite came up. The idea was to take a day out to yourself and think strategy, much in the way the board of a big corporate would do. I realised straight away that this was what I needed to do.

My quarterly personal offsite hasn’t ended up being a single day. Its been running now for over a week whenever I can snatch a spare hour, and I’m only just starting.  Theres a couple of weeks annual leave coming up, and I know I’ll need those to think through properly whats going on in life right now and where I want to be in 5 years time. What I do know is it’s a valuable process and I need to get my head around how to do it in a structured way and develop a framework that I can reuse next time and share with anyone else that might find it useful. Of course, I won’t be doing this quarterly, it will be tri-annual!

What do I know so far?

A few things are going into the mix:

  1. I know already i’ve been trying to pursue far too much and as a result made too little progress. I’ve had a number of projects on the go, each with great ideas, but none getting much beyond first base. My key learning from the last year is do one project and see it through.
  2. My current business model is based around traditional consultancy, I enjoy this immensely, but I can only help one business at a time and only those able to pay reasonably big fees for my services. I’m actually passionate about helping lots more businesses, smaller ones that certainly can’t afford the fees, push through whatever is holding them back and help them get to the next level. This needs a radically different business model.
  3. Each of the projects I’ve been looking at have had one thing in common, a fairly standard internet business model. Too many other businesses are doing this. Everyone is sick of being dropped onto an email list and then being sold to with sales copy and landing pages. I hate buying from pages like that, there must be a better way of doing things.
  4. There are too many overpriced low quality products out in the marketplace. I don’t want to be associated with this stuff. I don’t want to produce it, sell it, or be an affiliate for it. In short top quality, high value add, or nothing.
  5. My key strength (See Strengthsfinder 2.0 which I absolutely love and recommend to everyone I mentor or coach) is Relator. This means that I work best when I engage with people that I can get to know well. The new business model must allow me to relate. Somehow I need to discover a much more personal way to interact with an audience and develop rapport using social media.

Some things are already fitting into place:

First thing that’s clear – This website, the only one that I’ll be actively running, is here to share stuff that I’m passionate about. I’ll still have sign-up forms, but they will only be there to allow the reader to engage with me or to send out free stuff that I’m using myself and finding really helpful. I’m absolutely not going to use any email address I capture to then send out a pile of sales copy or a long chain of email from an autoresponder.

Second thing that’s clear – No advertising. You will have noticed any links to affiliate products that were previously in the sidebar on the site have gone. I don’t want to be associated with these. This site is solely about supplying value to you the reader.

Third thing that’s clear – I’m a Chartered accountant (CPA) and management consultant with a big 4 background. There are very high standards that go with this. My personal integrity is paramount to any brand that I develop. Any advice must be top quality and impartial. I absolutely don’t want to have a brand that draws comparison to a get rich quick American internet marketer or a self-proclaimed business development guru with few qualifications.

Fourth thing that’s clear – If I’m going through this quarterly personal offsite process I can’t be the only business owner on the planet that could benefit from it. In the next few blog posts I’m going to share more about the process I’m going through personally, the tools I’m using, and make those tools available if you want to use them too.

What tools have I used so far?

The first thing I did was review what has happened over the last few months. I borrowed a technique I often use to run a client workshop; Edward DeBono’s Thinking Hats. It’s a fantastic tool to use at the end of a project to conduct the end of project lessons learned review. But it adapts nicely to what I wanted to do here, to review my business activities in a structured way. I built a simple template to use, and I’ll email you this along with more information on thinking hats if you follow the instructions in the box below. I’ll also send you updates on the review and any other tools develop as the review process goes on.