Find Out How This Local Entrepreneur Went Global
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Player: Adam Byars
Company: Grid Worldwide
Many businesses have the words ‘world’ or ‘worldwide’ in their names. In the case of Grid Worldwide, it’s not just a platitude. Adam Byars, CEO and partner at Grid Worldwide, moved his family to Doha in 2018 to deliver on a campaign for client Qatar National Tourism Council.
Here’s his take on being a global citizen, the power of traveling, and why business success means always keeping your eyes on the horizon.
Q. In your experience, how important is it for business owners to travel?
It’s simple: To travel is to experience, to experience is to live, to live is to feel. In my experience, traveling is a mindset.
Align that global view to your business ambitions and you will soon work out how important it is (or isn’t) to travel when you’re developing your business ethos, products, services and even place in the world.
Q. What insights have you picked up from your own travels?
The biggest lesson I learnt when I started to travel in my early 20s was that I became best friends with myself. It was lonely, it was hard, and it was also fulfilling and rewarding all at the same time.
It’s something you embrace for what it can teach you, including the blessings and the lessons.
Travel pushes you beyond your expectations. You end up outside of your comfort zone. I discovered that you start out feeling vulnerable (when you land) and end up feeling inspired (when you leave). I then carried this into everything I do.
Since those early experiences, I have embraced travel, and doing business across borders has built this out even further. Doing business in other cultures and in other countries takes a level of maturity and an open mind that has in turn pushed us to grow even further, mentally and in terms of the size of our vision and business.
However, there is a word of caution: The hardest part about traveling as a business owner is ensuring you don’t neglect your business. Find the right balance.
Q. How has all of this experience helped you to implement new ideas in South Africa?
It’s made us visionary, brave and humble, all at the same time. Having a global view of the world immediately means you see things with a different lens. It also opens your mind to possibilities.
Traveling and experiencing different countries allows you to find inspiration in everything around you. You begin to appreciate everything for what it is, not what you want it to be.
Q. How has this helped you to pitch for business outside of South Africa?
First, we view the world as our playing field – because why shouldn’t it be? To be the best, you must be able to compete with and beat the best. Do you believe you have what it takes? You need to. Build that confidence – and I’m not just talking locally. I’m talking globally.
Doing business on a global stage takes vision, discipline and most of all commitment. I frame this as a Culture of Discipline.
Q. In your opinion, what does it mean that the world is a global village, and how does this impact all businesses across all industries?
This makes the world fast, more interconnected, agile and most of all unpredictable. You need to be prepared for it, and the best way to do that is to keep yourself informed – not just on a local scale, but a global one.
Q. For SME owners that cannot yet afford to extensively travel, what advice would you give them in terms of staying on top of what’s happening in the world?
First, unlearn to learn. Be open to new ideas.
Second, never lose sight of the bigger picture. Read, engage and always be curious to know what’s on the other side.
Third, seek to always find the meaning of something. There is always a lesson, you just need to be open in wanting to find it.
Q. How did traveling help Grid land and execute the Qatar campaign?
Have you ever worked on something that would change your life ever? Branding Qatar is that for me. Grid was introduced to the Qatar National Tourism Council in 2014. We created and launched Destination Qatar in 2015 and then in 2017 we pitched a Global Positioning campaign. The brief was more of a design brief than an advertising brief.
In 2018 I moved my family to Doha to ensure we delivered on the campaign.
My extensive travels over the years meant that I could quickly adapt, immerse and perform at the highest level on foreign soil. I was mature enough to understand what’s at stake for us as Grid, as well as for me personally.
You have to believe in what you do, or else it doesn’t matter.