Entrepreneurs and travelers have one big thing in common – they are both risk takers. They’d rather indulge on the excitement of the unknown, of not really knowing what lies ahead, and yet love every moment of the journey. And perhaps it is for this reason that, according to a recent survey, 94% of entrepreneurs believe that travel makes them better in their business endeavors.
It isn’t so much where you travel, they say, it’s the experiences you have that you can then translate into your business goals and activities. So, here are 7 things to think about as you consider if travel will improve your entrepreneurial skills and spirit.
Travel Gives You Ideas
Steve Jobs once said that becoming skilled in Yoga while traveling in India and touring gardens while in Japan made him understand that he wanted products that would be in sync with one another – in harmony.
The CEO of Tom’s Shoes, Blake Mycoskie says he got his idea for donating a pair of shoes for every pair purchased while traveling in Argentina. His sales have skyrocketed since he began this charitable program.
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.
Travel Tests Your Limitations
Think about it. How many things can go wrong as a person travels? Lost luggage, delayed flights, missed connections, lost or stolen wallets. The more practice you have in dealing with irritations and crises, both minor and major, the better you will get at remaining calm and working through them when they are business-related. Not over-reacting and not spiraling into “panic mode” is a pretty important habit to cultivate.
Travel Fosters Creative Problem-Solving Skills
The Harvard Business Review recently published a summary of a research project from Kellogg School of Business Management at Northwestern University. Students were given a problem to solve that was totally unrelated to business.
They were given a candle, a box of thumb tacks, and a box of matches and told to get the candle mounted and lit, so that it would burn correctly and not drip wax on the table. The solution was to empty the box of thumbtacks and to use the box as a candle holder.
Students who had had foreign travel experience were able to solve this problem far more often than student who had not. A similar experiment at the Sorbonne in Paris yielded the same results. The takeaway? Travel results in better problem-solving skills, something that every entrepreneur must have.
Travel Develops Tolerance and Flexibility
It’s easy to become upset and irritated when traveling in a foreign country when the “natives” do not see things your way. You may be in a hurry to get someplace. The “natives,” however, are ready for siesta time.
Developing the ability to value cultural differences and to respect those differences allows you to have that same tolerance in your business practices when you return home to your business and face similar diversity of values and priorities among team members or customers.
Travel Cultivates ‘Plan B’ Strategy Skills
Planning a trip requires organizational skills. You must make reservations – plane, hotel, car rentals, etc. You must research the weather and make clothing decisions; figure out how to get everything you need into luggage. Then you must make sure that your passport (and in some instances your inoculations) is up to date. You must arrange for pet sitting.
The more you travel the more you will develop organizational skills that are easily transferable to your business. And when things go wrong? You have to be able to develop your “plan B,” quite quickly. This means you can think on your feet and get to that Plan B quickly – definitely a skill to cultivate.
Travel Expands Your Knowledge
You may not be into cognitive development and neuroscience, and that’s okay. But here’s the thing. Every new experience you have, every time you learn something new, your brain develops these connections called synapses between different regions of the brain.
The more synapses you develop, the better your brain functions and the better you become at problem solving and decision making (right frontal lobe activity, for those of you who really have an interest). The more you learn, the better decision maker you become. And you probably get the importance of that to your business, right?
Travel Provides Networking Opportunities
You never know who you might encounter on a long flight, at a hotel, on the beach, in the bar, on the same diving excursion, or on a group tour. Meeting strangers, moreover, and practicing communication skills, can only improve your ability to communicate with team members, clients, customers, and others who may be of importance to your business.
By now, you are getting the idea. So, pack that suitcase, sally forth, and see your travel as great on-the-job training!
This article has been edited and condensed.
Julie Ellis is a marketing professional and the founder of Premier Essay writing service. “New contacts – it’s always great opportunities to share your knowledge.” Connect with @premieressay on Twitter.