The inaugural Five-Year Entrepreneur Retreat (July 2014)
It feels like it has been ages since I last posted here … and that it is because an age, or certainly a number of months, have indeed passed.
There are some mitigating factors. I have – as many of you know – a pretty busy and eclectic ‘existence’ nowadays. I am privileged to be the non-executive of a number of successful professional service businesses as well as being directly involved in a few (non PS) entrepreneurial ventures. Further to that a busy family life, study with the Open University, support to Princes Trust and training for fitness competitions all conspires to keep me merrily away from my ambition to keep the 5YE website live and well.
The major time-away factor, however, was the planning and preparation for, and delivery of, the inaugural Five-Year Entrepreneur Retreat; in this post, I am going to focus on a debrief of what we covered and how it went.
The event place in early July at the delightful Homewood Park Spa Hotel just outside Bath. I have to say the preparation took an age; I was keen that all delegates went away with a fulsome ‘Retreat Folder’ as to how to go about building a successful, ‘valuable’ professional service business … and I spent months bringing these thoughts and materials together. Even so, I was surprised at quite what a 500 page+ ‘Retreat Folder’ I had developed!
The value of this content was that it enabled the Retreat delivery to focus on the sharing of perspectives on these key topics/issues and discussions as to how the attendant companies could implement various aspects of best practice. The Folder was the resource file for the attendees and the home for their action plans and notes taken throughout.
Fourteen (and this proved to be the perfect number … that I will cap future events to) ambitious leaders of professional service businesses (owner managers predominantly) assembled for the Retreat and I have to say they were a tremendous bunch. Their businesses covered the full company growth spectrum from singleton start-up to established SME businesses through to a top executive from a global, multi-disciplinary consultancy; they represented multiple sectors – from engineering/surveying, commercial due diligence through to various flavours of business consulting.
The agenda was deliberately packed. I suspect, at first, we all had a sense of ‘are we really going to cover all this?’ in three days but it was amazing how the energy – bouncing off each other – carried us through an impressive array of topic. To illustrate, this was the Retreat’s agenda:
The Retreat also benefitted from some excellent additional speakers: Lee Mears, the former British Lion and England rugby international (now an executive/team coach) joined me for the ‘Building a High Performing Team’ session; Tom Knights, a gifted designer from Tomology Design reviewed every companies’ website and joined the Marketing session; finally, Paul Collins the MD of Equiteq spoke to the forum about firm valuation and best practice when it comes to the actual exercise of selling a firm.
At the end of an intense but enjoyable three days much had been covered and some excellent contacts – between entrepreneurs with very comparable goals and challenges – had been made. This aspect was, perhaps, the most rewarding. In the final discussion, it was consensually agreed that we should keep the ‘Retreat 01 Peer Group’ together in order to mutually keep honest to the ambitious plans hatched. As at the point of writing, the aim is to meet up for a few hours quarterly and to come back together for a residential, full-day catch-up once a year.
Finally, a personal muse. I genuinely saw this as a bit of an ‘experiment’ that came about, somewhat circuitously, as a result of the e-book series. With the ‘hard miles’ of the preparation behind me, I have to say I loved it. There is nothing more reinvigorating than being surrounded by a group of driven, intelligent entrepreneurs and I came away from the event, and the very positive testimonial, really buzzing (slept like a baby that weekend!). As always in such company, I felt I had learned a load also – from just listening to some of the ideas and great practices underway in the delegates’ firms. It has confirmed in my mind, the desire to repeat the format and my current thinking is to run them twice a year at the same venue (March and September). If you are interested on getting on the waiting lists for these events, please just drop me a note via the contact page.
I will leave the final word to the founding delegates of 5YE Retreat 01: