Globe-Trot: Why Entrepreneurs Need to Experience Different Cultures

If you call yourself an entrepreneur, you should be traveling and explore continuously.

Traveling and exploring the world is not just for your own social or emotional well-being, but also to broaden your worldview and most importantly experience other cultures. Emails and video conferencing often provide entrepreneurs with a convenient way to communicate, but build shallow connections with others and face time is required to get to know the customer, client or individual you are working with/for. In addition to limiting virtual contact, entrepreneurs should aim to explore and learn more about the world around them, to be better leaders and creative thinkers.

As shown by a Brightpark Edu-Travel report which discovered that 94% of business leaders in the US believe travel experience creates a competitive advantage in the workplace. Here are some of the benefits of Travel for Entrepreneurs:

  1. You Create New Connections

More than the destination you decide to go to, it’s the connections and network you develop as you travel that make an impact. Traveling helps you enhance your communication skills by teaching you to understand different body languages and creatively dealing with language barriers. Understanding different communication styles can help improve how you network with your team and your peers. Having the opportunity to build relationships with strangers from around the world also teaches you new networking skills.

  1. You Learn more about the World

The experience of travel and learning from people of other cultures is priceless. Learning to cultivate an appreciation for foreign cultures is important in a global economy. Regardless of what stage your startup or business is at, getting insight into different cultures provides you with ideas to take back with you, provides a relaxing outlet and puts successes and failures into perspective.

  1. You Discover new problems you can solve

Getting out of your comfort zone and being challenged will also provide you a window into how people from different cultures think and solve problems. Accessing the knowledge of other people by actively listening and looking beyond the startup/entrepreneur bubble you are in can help you understand the problems people face worldwide. You might even discover new projects and develop simple solutions to the world’s problems!

The traveling entrepreneur is flexible when faced with challenges and can adapt to new environments despite facing many constraints. Being forced to pivot while traveling isn’t much different from pivoting in your startup. The experiences of canceled/delayed flights, accommodation problems, lost/missing luggage, bad weather etc; will make you resilient and provide some interesting lessons that show you the unexpected nature of life.

Travelling and exploring the world is key to an entrepreneur’s growth and development. However, if you are on a budget, there are alternatives to travel. Living in a city like New York, you can visit places like Jackson Heights, Flushing, Chinatown, and Astoria to explore different cuisines and cultures. Make an active effort to understand people who are a part of these communities. Attend, participate and maybe even volunteer in international celebrations, parades and festivals. Read books and watch cinema from around the world and use mediums such as TED talks, VICE documentaries, National Geographic and the Economist to learn more about the global citizens who might one day be using your product or service. Keep an open mind and enhance your worldview by traveling, exploring other cultures and learning to be a better entrepreneur.