Why Entrepreneurs Should Travel
A look at supporting evidence for the international entrepreneur
Partly due to my past university studies, I tend to be more idea oriented to the business side of things. Because of this, I constantly look for opportunities, and whether I choose to pursue them or not, I still look into their feasibility and overall outlook as a business idea.
In my experience, I have witnessed something that I would like to share with other business people out there. Even if you are not into business, you can benefit from reading this article as it also applies to anyone who is traveling in general.
Traveling and entrepreneurship are not commonly synonymous terms. Simply saying the two together might get some strange responses. Some might say, the path to entrepreneurship begins in your community with what is familiar to you. I would like to offer a different perspective.
Let us begin with a basic definition of an entrepreneur. I think that we can all agree, an entrepreneur is an person who sees an opportunity to make money and pursues it; generally, they use some new approach. Obviously, one could add to that definition or even come up with alternatives, but let us stick to the basics. Entrepreneurship is an important theme in our society. The very essence of entrepreneurship has given way to some of the most marvelous creations that the world has every seen. Entrepreneurship breeds creativity, innovation, and pushes people to their limit.
If you think about it, entrepreneurs are not that dissimilar to travelers. For starters, travelers take risks. Traveling to foreign lands is somewhat risky. Although it is not always risky physically, traveling can be risky in other terms such as financially, socially, and yes even career-wise. Entrepreneurs additionally take risks. At times, they risk much working day and night, and putting all of their energy and resources into making an idea work. Sometimes they both fail, other times they are met by great success.
Thinking about this and comparing travelers to entrepreneurs eventually led me to come up with a few ideas about why entrepreneurs and travelers are similar. Ultimately, I came up with a list of reasons why entrepreneurs should travel. I decided to split them up into two articles. This article gives business folk 7 insightful reasons about why entrepreneurs travel. I will have another article coming out in the next few weeks comparing entrepreneurs to travelers.
7 reasons why entrepreneurs should travel
- Traveling opens the mind. I wholeheartedly believe that traveling, preferably alone, opens the mind to new possibilities. Perhaps you have been in a routine or a part of the system for too long and you have lost your creative streak. Consider a sabbatical to a remote and different place to stir things up a bit. I dare say you won’t regret it.
- Traveling gives you an opportunity to see the need for opportunity. When you travel you get the opportunity to see needs first hand. Whether it unfolds in the avenue of social entrepreneurship or larger more grandiose endeavours, one can truly see an opportunity ripe for the proper capitalist. For example, think about a few of the recent social entrepreneurs. Feel Goodz flip-flops is a good example. In the history section on the site, the CEO Kyle, specifically states that his company was inspired from a Backpacking Trip through Thailand. Furthermore, the CEO of TOM’s shoes states that his idea to supply shoes to children was inspired while traveling through Argentina. Is social entrepreneurship not for you? Let’s look at another business and a man who you may have heard about. A man by the name of Steve Jobs states that his time traveling through Indian and Japan were instrumental in his life walk. He says that his product designs were based off of a zen-like flow that he wanted to capture, which he had experienced both in India through Yoga and in Japan through gardens. He wanted products that synced together in harmony and flowed naturally. It mind sound a little strange, but it seems the idea has caught on. By the way, Apple recently became the most valuable company in history.
- Travelers gain a different perspective. The longer that we stay near home or around those that are similar to us the more we run the risk of falling to ‘group think’. Likely unintentionally, we surround ourselves with ‘yes men’ because it is easy, but nonetheless it occurs. Only when we ask for the opinion of someone from a vastly different upbringing do we realize how we are guilty of this. We are a product of our environments. Traveling rattles our mental cages, and makes us think of solutions to problems that we have never even thought of before.
- Traveling tests your limitations. This is a good thing. Testing your limitations enables oneself to better know themselves and what they are capable of. Traveling alone is not easy. Sure, with time you get better and more efficient, even smarter if you will with respect to traveling. However, this only occurs after one has learned their limits. Traveling through different cultures and places will test you, just as any business will. A business will challenge you from you ability to multi-task, effectively manage your time, budget, adapt, grow, negotiate deals, and even function under pressure. From first hand experience, I can tell you that I have practiced all of those things while traveling. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to fine tune both soft and hard skills while traveling, which are both equally important skill sets to have.
- Traveling makes new connections for you. This may or may not occur, but partially depends on your personality. If you are outgoing and like talking to people you may run into someone who could help you or find people with mutual business interests. For example, you could meet someone who wants to invest in an idea. Or someone could give you an idea for something that works for them. I have been told that backpacking is like taking steroids for personal growth. If that is true, then it is additionally like speed-meeting people around the world. Much like speed-dating, speed-meeting would be the same premise, just no dating interests, effectively meeting tons of people. There was a book written by Keith Farazzi and Tahl Raz called Never Eat Alone. They tell people the secrets to personal networking and relationship building, one person at a time. Remember, just because you are traveling alone, doesn’t mean you are alone.
- Traveling connects the entrepreneur with ‘commoners’ in order to see the world up close and personal. All too often, I find that in our society we get tied up into our own existence. Meaning that everyone who makes it big or becomes privileged, forgets what normal everyday life is all about. In academics there is a notion called Ivory Tower syndrome. It is used to describe professors who have tons of book knowledge about specific subjects, but are unaware of how it actually relates to the real world or if it does at all. The term can be spread out more broadly from universities to other professions. Think about people who know tons of theory, but have never really seen it in action. Well educated entrepreneurs can immerse themselves in the world to learn how the business world and its theories apply to life in general.
- Traveling gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to see the big picture. Understanding how everything fits together is a skill that any opportunist and developer needs. It could be described as an essential or fundamental skill of entrepreneurship. Markets are now global, and our world is no longer flat. It is time to get out and see how to make it better.
It doesn’t really matter if you are into business or not, but I think everyone can realize that traveling has some really powerful benefits. Entrepreneurs should travel if they get the chance. Whether someone decides to become an international entrepreneur or a local one, I believe that there are some great benefits to seeing some things along the way. Even if they do not find their golden opportunity while traveling, I would be willing to bet that entrepreneurs would be better off in the long run for doing it.
Tell me what you think!
I want to hear your thoughts. Are you an entrepreneur that has traveled, or do you want to travel in the future? Let me know.
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