On the surface, you may not see the connection between traveling and being an entrepreneur. But if you think about it, there are a lot of parallels when it comes to the skills needed to do both successfully. For example, both travel and running a business will require you to move through uncharted territories where opportunities to practice effective communication present themselves. In fact, being a seasoned traveler can help hone the emotional, intellectual, and interpersonal skills of every aspiring and established businessperson.
For many entrepreneurs, especially start-up founders, taking time away from a business to travel may seem antithetical since time and resources are most likely scarce. But the biggest danger for a business owner at any stage is operating inside of a vacuum, avoiding risk (or getting stuck in analysis-paralysis), losing connection with customers, and forgetting what drives supply and demand.
As a seasoned entrepreneur and traveler, hitting the proverbial road has helped me develop a variety of skill sets. Below are the top five that have helped shape me into being a better business owner and human and that may be useful to you becoming the best leader you can be for your business.
You Will Learn To Navigate Through Uncertainty
They say practice makes perfect. So, there is no better way to get familiar with things outside of your comfort zone than jumping in feet first. By whatever means and wherever your travels take you, it is all about new experiences—similarly to the activities you engage with in your business that may seem foreign to you.
When you launch or run a business, there will be aspects you inherently excel at and there will be parts of running a business that don’t come naturally. But the good news is that our brains are as amazing as our bodies in that we can always tighten up existing strengths while learning new skills and even mastering them without ever knowing anything about them previously. Our bodies, minds, and even our souls are waiting to be used to their full potential. Both travel and being a business owner can provide opportunities for those aspects of ourselves to expand.
Travel also creates an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective by exposing you to people, cultures, landscapes, and ways of life that you don’t experience every day. These experiences can help business owners understand how to tap into a new customer base or expand their market into a new country with different cultural and economic expectations. The more perspective a business owner has, the better their foresight and problem-solving skills will be.
You Will Practice Agility
Running a business will present a whole host of decisions you will have to make. In many instances, you will have to think on your feet. Since traveling is basically Spring Training for adaptability where even the best laid itineraries can crumble, it is the perfect opportunity to practice being agile.
When you travel you can experience language barriers, delays, detours, and other challenging situations where you will have to navigate these issues of uncertainty and unpredictability gracefully and without hitting the panic button prematurely. If you can’t be adaptable while traveling, you could risk ruining your trip. If you can’t be flexible as a business owner, your bottom line could suffer, or worse, your business could crumble.
In both travel and business, you could have the best laid plans, but there are thousands of reasons why they both could get derailed. Successful people in both realms always focus on the solution rather than the problem—because problems are a constant in life. The only other constant is change so learn to adapt on the fly and your chances for success in both scenarios will increase exponentially.
COVID was a harsh reminder that we can never get too comfortable as business owners. Our businesses not only are affected by decisions we make, but also by forces outside of our control like catastrophic weather events, war, recessions, supply shortages, or a pandemic where government mandates didn’t allow customers to enter your business at all. These outside forces don’t happen all the time, but we are dealing with many of them currently. Success can still be achieved; it just may require some flexibility and creative thinking. During COVID for example, many brick-and-mortar brands successfully went digital to reach new and existing customers during the unprecedented lockdowns. Being agile helped these companies weather the storm.
You Will Learn To Trust Your Gut
In life and business, the counterbalance to adaptability is decisiveness. Changes in travel plans, like slumping demand, don’t just solve themselves. You need to be able to think on your toes and make decisions quickly. Look at the data, trust your gut, and go with your instincts in either scenario. When you think about it, the gut is pretty amazing. Not only does it digest the food we eat, but it is also a key player in our body’s immunity. But it can also signal human responses based on survival instincts buried deep within our DNA programming.
If you aren’t in touch with your intuition, don’t worry. All it takes is practice. Quiet the mind the best you can and ask yourself the question at hand. You might just be surprised that you get a response. If the worst-case scenario is that you make a mistake—you can always course correct if need be. As business owners, we need to learn from the mistakes and move on. Quickly determine what the problem is and the best way to handle it. Since issues that arise when traveling typically only allow for a short window to respond, it is the ideal scenario to practice trusting your judgment and your instincts to make good decisions on the fly—traits every successful entrepreneur has finely tuned.
You Will Learn Effective Communication Skills
You can have all of the above skills, but if you don’t know how to effectively communicate with friends, loved ones, business colleagues, or strangers you’re in for a bumpy road. Although travel in general is an amazing experience, it can also present some frustrating challenges that require effective communication skills to resolve issues. How you handle yourself addressing these hiccups will determine if you achieve a positive or negative outcome. Even though you may never see these folks again, these experiences can help build character and help to teach you ways to communicate with people from varying backgrounds who may not operate the same way as you. Furthermore, these types of interactions can help prepare you when you face adversity in business whether it is discussing an issue with an employee or with a customer, for example.
You Will Practice Being In The Moment
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up focusing on the destination rather than the journey. Travel reminds us to live in the moment and to take in as much of our surroundings before they change. The same applies to the principles of living a happy life and running successful businesses. As entrepreneurs, it is important that the journey be met with gratitude wherever it takes us. Both good and bad experiences have value, even if the latter doesn’t feel like it at the time.
Think about it this way. If you had never experienced anything considered to be bad, you would never be able to recognize something that is good or anything else in between. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs that I have interviewed over the years have told me that they have learned far more from a perceived failure than any success. Remember running your business is your ride—not someone else’s. If you don’t like your course, you can change the direction.
You Will Be Exposed To Endless Inspiration
Last but not least! I can’t think of a better reason to travel than being inspired by the surroundings. As a business owner, and one in the aesthetic space, the experiences you get exposed to when you travel can be vast. When you think about it, hospitality and beauty have a lot in common, especially when it comes to customer service and creating an experience or a vibe. When you travel to wellness destinations specifically, you can get inspiration from the design of the spaces, retail products, spa services, products to use for your services, and exposure to new device technologies (our founder, Simon Mansell and his wife discovered Cryoskin while traveling!). Most hotels have spas these days, so if you stay in one, it is always great to see what other folks are doing effectively for some ideas for your own business.
To be a successful entrepreneur may take trial and error and some practice. Travel provides the perfect opportunity to work on some of the skills needed to successfully run a business where the stakes are much lower. Whether you are considering opening up a beauty business or already run one, remember to listen to the little voice inside that tells you to get out of dodge so that you can refresh your spirit and inspire your soul. Taking a trip might just be the best course of action for the future of your business that you never planned for.