When I decided to leave my full-time job and start my own business in 2015, I knew that it would be a decision that would stretch, challenge, and test me to see how mercilessly I really wanted this. There are certain things that are expected when taking that leap. I knew that I was going to have to work hard.
I knew that I was going to have to network 24/7. It wasn’t a rude awakening when I discovered the huge learning curve that I would experience as I transitioned from employer to entrepreneur, but nobody ever told me the importance of traveling if I wanted to make tremendous strides as an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs need to explore. My thinking had to expand if I wanted to be a relevant business leader and connect with others that I didn’t see on a daily basis. You can’t be stuck in a cubicle mindset and expect to soar like an eagle; you have to think beyond what you already know in order to make meaningful progress.
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” – Danny Kaye
I decided to pack my bags and travel around the world on a 6-month performance and service tour with an international non-profit organization called Up with People, where I had the chance of networking with influential leaders from all over the world and deliver over 100 hours of service by volunteering at schools and community organizations. Every experience that I took on that was beyond my comfort zone was preparing me to be a socially-conscious entrepreneur.
Travel instills important lessons and strengthens skills that directly translate to effectiveness as an entrepreneur. In order to maximize your travel experience, you need to be able to integrate the experiences you have had into your business goals and activities. Traveling is a strategic business investment that will take you further than any class will; nothing compares to real life experiential learning.
Ready to step up your game as an entrepreneur? Here are four reasons that traveling should be on every entrepreneur’s to-do list:
1. It will teach you how to be flexible and take risks
I can’t count the number of times my plans changed or I had to adapt to new environments when traveling the world. It’s easy to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned, but when this becomes the norm, you learn how to make the most of what you have at your disposal.
Entrepreneurship is one big experiment that is filled with uncertainties. This is definitely a skill to cultivate if you want to be a successful business person. The entrepreneur who is able to quickly adapt to changes and take advantage of opportunities that don’t have a guaranteed outcome will win.
2. You open your mind to more possibilities
Going to places you have never experienced before seems to open your mind to new possibilities; you can have great “aha” moments if you get out of your routine environment. You only know what you have exposed yourself to. Just imagine what would happen if you expose yourself to new ways of doing business, new people, new cultural traditions, new food, and new ways of living.
You get outside of your business box and receive creative inspiration that can help you create innovative solutions. And the world needs more ways of thinking that don’t adhere to traditional standards in order to continue to evolve.
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” –Brian Tracy
3. Build connections with people who are not like you
Diversity of thoughts and ideas is what helps businesses continue to be successful. Your interactions will lead to valuable insights. First, you understand what it takes to build a diverse consumer market. You also gain opportunities to work with foreign clients, to sell to foreign markets, and to outsource work to foreign employees in other countries.
Entrepreneurs who take the extra step to learn a new language strengthen their ability to connect with others and are better prepared for the way in which business is developing worldwide.
4. You will increase your awareness of global challenges
Exploring the problems that people face on a daily basis may lead to valuable opportunities for your business. Business is all about adding value; if you are always adding value, you will always be in demand.
These new experiences can provide you with new ways of adding value to different markets around the world. You don’t just want to think locally⎯go deeper. How can your products services help the world?
Being an entrepreneur takes work. People who decide to pursue this path give up 40 hours of structured work responsibilities to put in 80+ hours of non-stop work. But when you see people in other countries working non-stop to make a living as an entrepreneur, you question your own work ethic. Once you start traveling, the ideas will keep unfolding and your impact as an entrepreneur will be amplified.