How International Work Experience Is a Good Investment For Aspiring Entrepreneurs Working abroad is truly an investment in oneself that helps one prepare better for the gamble that is entrepreneurship
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
For an aspiring entrepreneur, starting one's own business is an enormous risk; it amounts to a gamble that can either result in a lifetime of success or in time spent taking stock of what could have been better. Having a strong idea that one believes in is the primary driver for building a profitable venture. However, many other aspects need to be factored in, in order to make sure one creates something truly useful and unique. International work experience is one of the important investments that entrepreneurs can make in preparation for their own foray into the world of business. Of course, working abroad is a luxury that not everyone can afford, and many young minds hailing from humble backgrounds have made it big without such resources. So, international practice is definitely not a prerequisite, but certain experiences can be extremely relevant for budding entrepreneurs. Many successful professionals have returned to India to kick off their own startup dreams after gaining invaluable international exposure. Thus, if one has the option of working in, say, the Silicon Valley, there is no reason to give it a second thought.
Indian entrepreneurs stand to greatly benefit from thinking big and observing their counterparts in other countries, especially those from the US, European countries and Japan. Operational, technological, managerial and organisational skills: all of these are developed through learning from our immediate environment as well as from environments starkly different from ours. A number of markets in our country are still developing and are currently twenty or thirty years behind in terms of scale and adoption, in comparison to developed nations. Getting some perspective on how products are built and marketed in other countries is indispensable for entrepreneurs with aspirations to provide ground-breaking solutions in India. Moreover, India has primarily been a service-oriented country especially since the rise of organisations such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro. In comparison, Silicon Valley has been churning out innovative products since the late 1900s when Hewlett Packard came into being, not just in the sphere of technology, but also in healthcare, beauty, furniture and the FMCG sector. India does not have a modern history of product companies, and international exposure to product management has the potential to change that.
Establishing oneself internationally is another advantage of initially working in other countries as it gives an entrepreneur priceless knowledge about the global arena. Many budding businesses desire to have a dominant presence in not only multiple cities across the county but also in multiple continents. Global ambitions can only be built on global perspective, in addition to international tie-ups requiring access to a global network. Indian entrepreneurs with a global mindset can also help solve problems in other countries as they view situations with a fresh perspective. In addition, a multicultural approach can be developed, which will result in combinations of various kinds of innovation in different parts of the world. However, gaining international work experience is not limited to those entrepreneurs who hope to work globally, and will pay off regardless of where one sets up one's new venture. This is because working in a country other than the one you were born in pushes you out of your comfort zone and helps develop a flexible and adaptable approach to problem-solving.
Additionally, it is important to observe and participate in the work ethic practiced in countries outside South East Asia. Countries such as India tend to focus on single-minded hard work and aggression—which is not incorrect in isolation—but often does not encourage personal ownership of work and even the best educational institutions here are lackadaisical in their attempts to foster innovation. If one is able to maintain the kind of street-smartness that India teaches, while also gaining from the nurturing environment provided in countries abroad, success in any field is sure to become much easier to achieve. International work experience also fosters improved communication through steady engagement with other entrepreneurs, which further results in the ability to connect with a wider range of people back home.
For someone making their foray into the world of risks and tireless hard work, international work experience makes it possible to learn how to upgrade skills with time and be ready to adopt newer technologies. Entrepreneurs with functional international experience develop an open mindset and are much more willing to learn from new opportunities. Working abroad is truly an investment in oneself that helps one prepare better for the gamble that is entrepreneurship.