Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle”

If time has been slipping away from you into 2024 and you’re desperate to have a more cohesive business plan, what should you do to get there? (Giving up, pulling your hair out, or pretending it won’t matter because you’ll figure it out “later” are not viable responses.)

The question of best practices for future business planning was the topic of discussion for the November 29, MPI SBO Connects hour-long session on Zoom. The Small Business Owners community is a slice of Meeting Professionals International that offers discussions and information about how to run your business. One way that is done is by offering informal social chat sessions that address real-world business topics relative to the hospitality, meetings & events industries. The November 29 session elicited suggestions for how to plan for your business’ future, even during a holiday crush.

“I suggest three aims,” announced Claire Caldwell, MPI SBO Education committee chair whose business is sales and marketing. “Have a business plan, or tweak the one you have that you may not have looked at recently.” That brought swift agreement from others, who acknowledged the plan was sitting in a drawer untouched this past year.

“Two, set goals… obtainable ones.” For Caldwell, that means getting more involved in her local MPI chapter in-person events.

“Three, prospect and network more strategically. Be thoughtful where you spend your time, but don’t forget to plan time for yourself as well.”

Bingo! Time for yourself is a concept many of the SBO participants were just realizing is an important element too often overlooked. The question then becomes, “How do you do it when starting a business or when it is successful and there never seems to be a free quiet moment to assess where the business has been and where do you want it to go?”

One planner said she is taking herself to Europe to celebrate her milestone birthday and to let the alone time refresh her creative juices.

Getting away for a business retreat is a popular method for many of the participants.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s a half-day, or several days. Get away so you can plan next steps,” advised MPI SBO Co-Chair Susan Piel, owner of a meeting planning business.

Another small business owner has a partner in one business but they each also own separate businesses. Time is a fleeting, compressed entity. One important step for them is to set aside an afternoon to just correlate their calendars. Then she can plan for her personal retreat.

The consensus was that going away is giving yourself the gift of time, to think of yourself as an Executive. Shut off the phone. Don’t answer business mail. No children or employees needing attention. It’s about rejuvenating, pondering, letting ideas flow freely. The time taken for a retreat is an investment into your business.

Aren’t you worth it?

For more ideas on how to have a business plan retreat (and sample agendas), download from Leanne Calderwood’s site – lc.leannecalderwood.com/sample-agendas-page

One question that wasn’t solved did achieve one of the goals of these discussions; ie, for members to share best practices and offer suggestions. In this session, how to find a reliable “assistant” without having to break the bank to hire and who should have needed skills without having to spend an inordinate amount of time training. Suggestions included approaching hospitality program students, asking known vendors for people they know, and asking for referrals when at networking events.

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is an active member of International Live Events Association and Meeting Professionals International and is now serving on the 2022-2023 MPI Global Advisory Board for Small Business Owners. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events in her blog, Hotel Happenings & Program Promotions. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com; www.KarenKuzsel.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady. She is also active with Experience Kissimmee CVB and Wedding Venue