This week, Small Business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about their year in review.

Steve Pirie is an owner of Unleashed Travel - which specialises in graduation celebration weeks for Kiwis and Aussies - and the Nurture Change retreat for business owners.

We spoke in September for the Small Business 'work hacks' series on how to work smarter not harder. Have you added any further hacks to your schedule since we spoke?

I haven't really added any additional hacks, although I'm always looking to technology to make life and work easier and more streamlined where I can. I've started one of my companies on Active Campaign - a marketing automation platform - so I can start scheduling on-boarding processes and communications to customers to make marketing less labour intensive.

I've also found a few apps around mindfulness and accountability, which is my big focus at the moment. Last time we spoke I mentioned Headspace, which is a fantastic mindfulness app. It's since added a feature where you can add people to your group, which is awesome to give you accountability and motivation.


What's been the standout achievement for you in your businesses this year?

Without a doubt it's been creating Nurture Change Business Retreats with business partner Zac de Silva. We've just returned from our first event in Fiji, where we spent five days with more than 130 successful business owners from across New Zealand.

We had some fantastic speakers who not only shared their learnings and tools on how to become better in business, life and wellness, but who took the time to connect and engage with all the attendees during our social afternoons and evenings. Turning around in the bus back to the airport and seeing every single person chatting away and engaging with someone who was previously a stranger is definitely a moment I'll remember. I can't wait to see what new businesses and successes pop up as a result.

On the other hand, what's been the biggest setback or challenge?

Over the past six months the biggest challenge has been having the ability to say no, and keeping my focus on the important things and not letting distractions pull my attention away from what matters. It think it's really easy when things are going well to have multiple ideas, opportunities and JVs present themselves, making it hard at times to say no but that's when practicing mindfulness has really helped. It reminds me to bring everything back to the now and keep focused on the next steps towards achieving my goals.

The biggest setback for me is travel and time management. The nature of what I do means travel is always just around the corner, which means time away from home, from routine, sometimes working in different time-zones but still needing to keep across my businesses. And when things get difficult, my diet, sleep, exercise and routines start to unravel. So a big focus for me in 2016 is to build routines and systems to stay on track while travelling.

So what are some of your goals for 2016?

I've got four big goals. Firstly, I want to continue to build New Zealand's biggest community of change-makers through meetups and biz-cations, domestically and internationally. Secondly, I want to become a more productive and smarter traveller. The third goal is to successfully venture through South America with my beautiful family, and the fourth is to make the 2016 Nurture Change Business Retreat bigger and better than the inaugural one.

And what will you be doing over Christmas and New Year?

I'll be swapping suitcases and hotel meals for beach bags, picnics and some stellar barbecues with family and friends, as well as a trip down to Christchurch to see Six60 perform in Cathedral Square. Can't wait.