Travelers are usually courageous, adventurous, have impeccable social skills, and a malleable, creative mind. It just so happens that these are also a few cornerstones that build a strong entrepreneur.
Did you know that many of the characteristics that make you a smarter globetrotter will help your professional life? Yes, travel is a fun pastime, but it's also an opportunity to leave your comfort zone, learn how to interact with other people and acquire some skills that can be useful in the business world.
These are 5 major ways that traveling will help you become a better entrepreneur.
1. Travel Enhances Your Problem-Solving Skills
While traveling, unexpected surprises are to be anticipated, and you learn to roll with the punches. Language barriers, delays in public transportation, getting lost and financial hiccups are just a few possible (and probable) scenarios, and an avid adventurer learns how to handle each one without a second thought.
Running a business requires a similar mentality. Changes in schedules, communication mishaps and delays in services or goods are inevitable, and a smart entrepreneur knows how to handle each situation that comes.
2. Travel Will Teach You How to Work with Different People
What drives and excites people? In business, you will come in contact with customers and employees from different backgrounds, and understanding what makes them tick will help. This is another benefit of visiting a different country.
Experiencing a new way of life broadens your horizons and forces you to explore a new way of thinking. It shows you that there are many positive paths to your desired destination. And a smart business person is open to new ideas and strategies.
3. Travel Helps You Maintain Work-Life Balance
Prioritization is crucial if you want peace of mind, and traveling teaches you the importance of creating a schedule, especially if you're ambitious. Visiting multiple landmarks and must-see destinations in a short amount of time, while traversing public transportation, will leave you no choice but to hone your organizational and planning skills.
In business, prioritizing is crucial, and if you're not careful, it's easy to fall into an "all work-no life" trap. Creating a schedule that fits in personal time, family, friends, and hobbies will ensure a balanced and healthy lifestyle that will positively impact your work life.
4. Travel Helps You Improve Your Communication Skills
Especially when heading to a country that speaks a foreign language, getting your message across in the easiest and clearest manner possible will be essential. After all, communication is more than a string of sentences and sometimes keeping your questions and answers short and sweet is key.
Then there is body language. Do you make eye contact while speaking? Are you expressive and do you speak with your hands? Your body language will speak volumes about who you are before you even utter a word. Also, becoming familiar with cultural differences in body language will simplify interactions further.
5. Traveling Makes You Aware of Cultural Differences
Piggybacking off the last point, entering a new environment will expose you to other ways of living, thinking, and being, which builds cultural awareness. These experiences will also open your mind and make you more accepting. And this way of thinking/being can make or break the success of your business.
People want to be understood, valued, and respected for who they are. An entrepreneur who sympathizes or empathizes with different mentalities will have less trouble making those around them comfortable. This also helps to build a trustworthy reputation, which will make your business grow.
I had a chance to experience the importance of cultural awareness first hand while attending a business training course in Honolulu this summer. I was surprised to learn how much the culture there, embodied in the warm Hawaiian spirit, influenced business practices and also how much these practices vary considerably from the mainland USA.
In Hawaii, strong interpersonal skills can make or break a business, and Hawaiians take the time to really know their colleagues and customers on a personal level. On the flip side, they are modest and polite, shying away from blunt points of view and opting to work out each point of business in a calm, relaxed way. During a few exercises, this was an especially interesting point of view for those of us who have been taught not to "fraternize" with coworkers and the "time is money" mentality.
In short, traveling allows you to interact with many different people and leave your comfort zone, which will allow you to become a better entrepreneur. Immersing in a new culture and environment will you set you up for unexpected problem solving and dealing with communication barriers. You will also learn the most efficient schedule-building techniques and prioritization skills that will come in handy when balancing a business alongside family and personal obligations. And most importantly, traveling will make you a more open-minded and culturally-aware individual who can work with people from many backgrounds and mentalities.
Natalie Smith is a Settle-based freelance writer who passionately explores all things related to small business, start-ups, entrepreneurship, marketing, and customer service. You can reach her on Twitter at @Natalie Smith.