Whew! The holiday shopping season is finally over. We hope this season was a successful one and that your business finished the year on a high note. Luckily, most businesses and industries that find themselves working overtime to finish out the year are greeted with a much more relaxed and casual start to the new one. Now that 2016 is here, it’s possible that you may be planning on taking some time off and the last thing you may want to think about is the future of your business. We certainly want you to relax and enjoy the time you have away, but it’s still important to use this valuable downtime to conceptualize the future of your business and take the first steps towards making those dreams a reality in the future.

The First Step Is To Conceptualize The Goal

People often make an initial disastrous mistake when it comes to strategic planning: they begin by planning the first steps they need to make immediately rather than conceptualizing the end result and then working out step-by-step how to achieve said end result. Many business writers have used the analogy of a trip or vacation by pointing out that we don’t plan a vacation by arranging a taxi ride to the airport without knowing the ultimate destination of our flight. Instead, we first identify the destination and then begin making step-by-step plans on how to accomplish the journey. If you find yourself thinking about your business while on vacation or break, don’t focus on what you need to do to plan for the next quarter once you return to the office. Instead, use this downtime to begin thinking about where you want your business to be in five or ten years, and fully conceptualize exactly where you want to be before you begin thinking about the first steps towards achieving that goal.

Utilize Your Smartphone To Record Your Thoughts

Sometimes our best ideas come to us when we least expect it, which is no surprise to anyone that’s sat through a formal brainstorming session in a professional conference room. Trying to force yourself to conceptualize the future of your business in a formal setting, or under the pressure of an artificially-imposed deadline, can often be demotivating and hamper your own creativity and self-confidence. However, when on vacation or on a break from the office, we often travel to calm, relaxing locales that help free our minds from the stress of the office or other professional settings. Even if you’ve shunned your laptop and work email, it’s likely that you will still be traveling with your smartphone, and if you find yourself coming up with great dreams and ideas for the future of your business, make sure you have a way to quickly and easily make a record of them for future reference. Smartphone note apps like OneNote, Evernote and Simplenote are great tools for quickly recording simple ideas and thoughts for later, and with cloud connectivity, your notes won’t be lost if you happen to forget your phone in a hotel room.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The End

As an entrepreneur, you likely have a lot invested in your small business, and we’re not just talking about money – you’ve invested countless hours into your business, likely sacrificing your personal or even family time in order to get your company off the ground. It wouldn’t be surprising under those circumstances if you’ve become personally attached to your business, but the idea of never letting go may be holding you back as well. If your business continues to be successful, an option may be to sell it, walk away, and take your professional life in a different direction. This may not be the best option in every circumstance, but by being overly attached to your business and refusing to consider it under any circumstance may hamper or even derail your long-term success. The best time to reconsider if you’ve become too attached to your business may be on vacation or break, so consider taking some time to reevaluate your relationship to your own business before you begin planning for the future.