Starting a business is hard. There’s no doubt about that. Every day you get a different adventure, where your business pushes you to the edge to see if you’ve got the right stuff. And I’ve discovered that the best way to get a successful preparation is to get yourself on the road.
For the last 3 months I’ve been traveling around Asia. I was living in Shanghai for a year, so I decided to quit my job, use my saving and get myself on the road with a backpack. I’ve had adventures through six countries and it’s been the best business preparation I’ve ever had.
Whether you’re a freelance or an entrepreneur—by the end of this post you will choose to get your stuff and travel as your best business education.
These are the skills you’d learn out there:
1. Become a storyteller
What makes a company stands out is a story. In the end, everything is a story—and if you want to have something different than I’m the cheapest, you’ve got to know how to tell yours. And the only way to be a good storyteller is by having experiences.
Since the moment you put your feet in a plane you’re going to have a lot of stories to tell. Going to different countries, getting yourself into diverse cultures and knowing a lot of people is a remarkable kind of experience.
Since storytelling is fulfilled with experiences, why don’t get more insight for the story of your business?
Maybe one day the story you tell is based on that trip.
2. Tame your fear
When you’re out there, you’re constantly exposed—you’re out of your comfort zone. If you decide to travel alone as I did, before you even begin your journey you will feel the danger. You don’t know what or who will you find out there, and if something happens to you, you’re alone. But you know what? It’s not dangerous.
When you’re about to experience a change, it always feels risky. But in the end, you figure out that it’s not risky at all and it worth the time. And your mind gets used to that willingness of change.
Quitting a job and launching a business feels the same. You’ll have to deal with that change whether you want it or not. And traveling will give you the courage to go ahead and cope your fear, so you can tame it.
3. Understand people
While launching a company, one of the most painful situations is to make a product nobody wants. In the development process you can blind yourself by thinking that you know what people want, nonetheless, you probably won’t. There’s no easy answer for that, but understanding how other cultures work, you get more chances to know your market.
Traveling helps you to be empathetic. You learn how to understand people by putting yourself in their shoes. And that’s the key to launch a product that your market wants, because you’ve got the skill to comprehend how their minds work.
4. Getting perspective
If you’ve been working too many months in a row, you feel like when you go to the movies and get your seat at the first line. You can watch the movie but the perspective is horrible.
Traveling is like going to the further seats in the movies. It allows you to see the whole picture and get perspective to analyze the scenario. That’s where you come up with ideas and solutions for your business you hadn’t considered before.
I’ve got hundreds of ideas in my trip, and going through thousands of pagodas in Myanmar, being far from everything, was my best inspiration.
5. Deal with hardships
If you think that traveling is all joy you’re wrong. I’ve had difficult situation in these 3 months, like food poisoning or villages where nobody spoke English. It sounds really bad but in the end it wasn’t. Sometimes it was tough but you just deal with it.
You learn how to go through the problems and leave them behind. You don’t care where the problem was started, you just find a solution and move forward.
Does it sound to you like the kind of problem an entrepreneur faces?
6. Manage money like a pro
I was traveling on a budget, so I had to spend my money wisely. Even though Asia can be very cheap, you have a total amount of money you can’t exceed. It depends where you go but sometimes you won’t have ATMs so your safety depends on how well you spend your cash.
And believe me, if you decide to travel on a budget too and the business you run afterwards fails, it won’t be because you didn’t manage your money wisely.
7. Get to know yourself
For me the most important point is to discover who you are. Most people don’t know the answer. And you probably don’t know it either.
It’s when you change your environment when you truly discover who you are and, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll discover your purpose. And maybe that’ll thrive your business in the future.
• • •
They say that when you travel and you come home you’re not the same person that left.
We’ve seeing how traveling helped successful entrepreneurs—like Phil Knight the founder of Nike, who related in his autobiography that traveling around the world was the key for his career and the future of Nike.
So, does your trip worth the investment in the long run?