Last weekend 11 ladies traveled from all over the country to join together for a business retreat – a gal pal getaway if you will. 4 of us have been meeting every other week for 2 years, (& 1 of the other ladies joined us for a year too!), and everyone else was an industry peer, digital friend we wanted to get to know better, or someone we looked up to. Everyone came with minimal details, but excited and expectant for what was to come.
While we shared a bit about our plans and weekend on Instagram, many of you asked for details on just HOW to plan & prep it all! It got us thinking about how we’ve been working toward making this happen for years – and with much intentional growth & relationship building in our group, it was made possible – and can be possible for you and your mastermind group too!
This blog post is perfect for you if:
You’re in our boat and have been meeting with your own group for a couple years now, but want to take it to the next level to get in person. We’ve broken down the planning process to make it possible for others groups to continue building the relationship you’ve been fostering for years.
Laura Foote & I teamed up to share tips on 4 things to consider when planning a girl’s weekend business getaway (on a budget!). Read on for my tips & be sure to pop over to Laura’s post for her perspective on all-the-details, finding a house, and key content tips!
Not surprisingly, coordinating schedules of 10+ women is with lives, businesses, babies, families, and more can be a daunting task. In fact, we have been trying to get our mastermind group of just 4-5 people together for nearly 2 years and had never succeeded in timing until now. Regardless, in planning a date and location for that many ladies, start with choosing a weekend that works for your core group about 3-6 months in advance. Use a scheduling tool like Doodle to find dates that work for the core group, and then put them in pen on the calendar.
Once you’ve solidified the date, start hunting for a location & Airbnb/VRBO (per Laura’s recs)… and make sure to read the descriptions of what the bed set-ups are like. We knew that we didn’t want people having to sleep in the living room on a pull-out couch… because as much as that might save a few bucks, it doesn’t allow for proper rest for that person… and means the early risers must tip-toe extra when grabbing their morning coffee.
Regardless of when & where you choose, protect that weekend. Even when new opportunities arise or schedules start to conflict as you get closer to the date, making sure everyone is committed is so worth it! And once you get the core group dates & location, start to invite the other attendees!
We’ve always envisioned our “one day this is happening” get together to be our core group: Lauren Grove of Every Last Detail, Megan Martin of Megan Martin Creative, Laura Foote of Laura Foote Photography, and me (and Christina Scalera of The Contract Shop joined us for a season too!). But when we started planning for this getaway, we knew there was a better way this time around. Instead of sticking just us 4, we decided we’d use this as an opportunity to build community & to be the invitation we all had longed for for years. We each invited 1 or 2 women we admired & wanted to get to know better… most of these people we’d never even met in person. Laura crafted up an email with (minimal) details about the dates, location, expected cost, and general layout of the weekend & we popped into the inboxes of ladies near and far.
While it hands down would have been our dream to invite every single person we know and love, we knew we wanted to keep the group small enough to where we could get to know each person individually over the course of the weekend and all stay together for one big slumber party. In the end, 11 women drove & flew from across the country for the weekend, and we couldn’t have been more grateful for the time together. It was such a reminder that everyone truly has incredible things to offer if given the chance to share… and much of it was the reason we wanted to share tidbits of the planning process so you could create this for your group and be the invitation too!
My favorite part to plan (!)…. put a foodie pregnant lady in charge of the menu you know that it’s going to be yummy. Thankfully, Laura & Megan reined me in and reminded me that simplicity is best… and they were so right. Start with finding out: dietary restrictions, aversions, must haves, and if people will be drinking from every lady. From there, my best suggestion? Choose menu items that can adapt to people’s needs: “build your own” is always a fan favorite. Think: taco bar, burger bar, & smoothie bowl bar. Pick a few desserts that accomodate the needs: standard boxed brownies alongside a fan favorite: Gluten Free Almond Flour Chocolate Cake. And make Rhiannon Bosse’s Best Breakfast Ever. This girl wowed us all with her breakfast beauty & deliciousness!
Also, start at Aldi (so inexpensive!!) & buy everything you can there… then finish out at somewhere else… I chose Trader Joe’s because duh (my favorite) and for a few speciality items we needed. Build out the menu beforehand & create a list of all ingredients by section of the store. Think: produce, dairy, meat, dry goods, etc. Oh and alcohol… don’t forget that. And when in doubt, buy less than you think you need (except for chocolate). You can always go back to the store if needed, but seriously, endless leftovers is zero fun. All in all, the total for the weekend’s food was just over $300, meaning every person chipped in about $30. With that PLUS 2 meals on our own, people spent under $60 for the entire weekend’s food. WINNING!
One last thing that isn’t necessarily menu related, but fun to consider. Our core group pitched in to gift each attendee with a little something upon welcome. Budget was $10 per attendee, and HomeGoods candles & notebooks, paired with Amazon Prime face masks were the perfect combo. It was such a special treat and way to say a simple “thank you” for investing time & money to come join for the weekend!
Have a plan for content, but be flexible. When everyone’s week & travel went awry (my car battery died in the Aldi parking lot, one of the kiddos got sick the week of throwing off the plans, the rental car place had a 3 hour wait for two of our gals & one of their tiny babes, and more!), we needed to be able to flex the schedule without stress. Creating a structure but also having plenty of free time to enjoy together meant that we were able to make changes as needed. Our general structure: Laura’s amazing StrengthsFinder session, small group conversations, & open time to leave space for the in-between breakthroughs to happen. And OH, did they happen!
It can feel so intimidating to plan something like this, or to fly across the country to spend a weekend with people you don’t know – but it’s well worth the intentionality & effort for your business & life. We left with education, conversation, & reminders that were truly gamechangers. It’s easy to feel isolated in our little worlds: like you’re the only one experiencing xyz issue. But you’re not, I promise, and when you create a safe space to truly open up about the real stuff behind the Instagram squares, you learn that we’re all much more alike than we believe, and that a heart of kindness can bridge gaps in places that previously felt so lonely.
I used to look at these kinds of retreats and think I’d never be worthy or “cool” enough. That my business wasn’t legit enough to warrant being invited. Had those feelings too? Don’t wait for the invitation. Be the invitation. Step out of your comfort zone & connect with one person today. Not just a double tap on their latest perfected square, but really, truly show up. Invite them to coffee. Go for a walk together. Offer to bounce ideas for their latest launch. Genuinely ask & care & keep asking and caring long after that first conversation. Be the friend, peer, or person you’d like to meet.
Even in all the stress & busyness of life, weekends like this will forever be a priority for me, and it’s built my community beyond what I could have ever hoped & prayed for – while also opening my eyes to the incredible perspectives of my nearest & dearest, as well as people I’ve yet to even meet!
Plus, couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of leading The Mastermind Retreat, an annual mini conference & retreat, alongside the fabulous Callie Lindsey & Laura with Brooke Olsen & Josefina Sanders. It takes the heart of these kinds of weekends to the next level with business building & intentional educational sessions… plus details & tools on how to pursue real community far beyond the weekend. It’s amazing to think our first round of ladies are planning their own retreat reunion this fall while we’ll be hosting the second round in September. Truly incredible to watch these ladies flourish in ways beyond our wildest dreams, and see them build community far & wide.
In the end, don’t stress too much about the tiny details of group getaways like these – instead, focus on building community & creating a safe space for people to open up, and you’ll be well on your way. And keep us updated about how your planning & getaways go! You got this!
Have you ever planned a business retreat like this? What is your best tip? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
All photos featured here by Laura Foote because I legit didn’t even open my camera bag once the whole weekend 🙈😂