By Tasha Friedman
Do you have the itch to travel, but feel like you can’t because you want to focus on building your business?
My advice is to put aside your cautions, because traveling is one of the best ways to teach yourself to be a great entrepreneur.
Seeing the world is a great way to get inspired and find new ideas. When you’re immersed in another culture, experiencing first-hand all the different ways people think and do things, you can see life in a whole new way.
Freed from your normal patterns and assumptions, your mind has the chance to take off in directions you never would have imagined, and you might get amazing results from it.
Even beyond that, travel teaches some important life lessons that can propel you forward in your personal growth and your career. Here are a few of the things I learned from traveling that made me a better entrepreneur – and a better person.
- Be brave
Traveling takes guts. Going out into the unknown, to a place you don’t know, where maybe you don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone…
When you’re in a foreign country, even basic stuff like finding a place to sleep and something to eat can be a real trial. One mistake on the bus can leave you stranded.
The risk never really goes away. Every new trip, every new place, brings new challenges.
And after a while, you start to like it.
“Aren’t you afraid?” As a traveler, I’ve heard this question more times than I can count. Yes, I am afraid. But I embrace it, because fear means possibility. It means you could fail, which means you can succeed.
If you never feel afraid, you probably don’t have much chance to grow.
It’s this same spirit of courage, diving head-on into challenges with no guarantee of success, that makes great entrepreneurs.
Did anyone promise Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz or Konosute Matsushita that everything would turn out fine? No way. People said that would fail, probably a lot of people. But they put themselves on the line anyway and went for it.
When you have the courage to travel the world, you have the nerve to do anything.
- Be flexible
Things don’t always work out the way you think they will, especially when you’re on the road. But the funny thing is, if you go with the flow, the result is often better than what you had planned.
Missing the bus can mean staying an extra day in a town and discovering its best secrets… or meeting your best friend from that trip.
A tip from a stranger might send you to the coolest hidden spot, which you never would have gotten to if you had stuck to your plans.
Flexibility is key, in traveling and entrepreneurship. You never really know what’s going to happen next week, let alone next year or five years down the line.
You always have to be in a mindset of improvement and evolution.
Staying ahead of competitors, adapting to customer response, jumping on opportunities as they come… it all takes agility.
When you’re trying to break ground as an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to get attached to your plans. Holding onto preconceived notions won’t allow you to keep your mind open to all the possibilities.
Stay true to your vision, but be ready to ditch the details at any moment.
- It’s all about the people
A lot of traveling is about the what’s, when’s and where’s.
Lists of things to see and stuff to do.
What to eat, where to go next, when to stay or leave.
However, that’s not what sticks with you.
You might land in Rome thinking, “I have to see the Sistine Chapel,” and you see it, and it’s beautiful and amazing. But a year later, what you remember most is the Australian guy from the hostel who taught you to hula-hoop.
Starting a business might seem from the outside like it’s all about material details. Success or failure rides on having a great product and effective marketing, right?
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Cliché by now, but that’s because it’s true.
You can’t overstate the value of networking. You might have the best idea in the world, something that people would go crazy for if you could just get the word out.
But if you don’t have connections, people who can help you get funding, develop your ideas and form an unstoppable team – you’re not going very far.
- You can always start again
Are you afraid of failure?
Do you think that if your startup crashes it will be the end of your career and you’ll be stuck pushing papers in some 9-to-5 forever?
The bad news is, you might fail. But the good news is that you can start again.
One crash-and-burn doesn’t mean you’re done as an entrepreneur, unless you let it.
Every great entrepreneur has some spectacular failures behind them. The difference between great entrepreneurs and mediocre could-have-been’s is that the great ones pick up and try again until they get it right.
As Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”
There’s nothing that teaches this restart mentality as much as traveling. Everywhere you go is a new beginning. You’re a different person.
When you’re in a foreign country, it’s natural for your personality to change. In a new environment, with different habits and people around you, maybe speaking another language, you’ll see how fluid your identity can be.
Nothing is lost. You just grow. You get more flexible. You get less attached to your patterns and old ways of thinking.
You’ll see that failure is never the end of the world: it’s just a chance to start fresh.
More and more young people are choosing to travel the world. We’re in the age of digital nomads and global entrepreneurs, where flexibility, creativity and connections mean everything.
Travel can bring amazing gifts to aspiring entrepreneurs. I truly believe that in today’s world, we don’t have to choose between traveling and having a successful career. Now, we can travel in order to succeed.