What Travel Has to Teach About Running a Business
The hassles and rewards of venturing far from home are a lot like entrepreneurship.
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I've had the unique experience of being able to travel a decent amount over the last two years. Since the beginning of 2015, I've logged more than 400,000 miles in the air. In my business, I consult companies and speak at conferences, which has allowed me to travel to six continents for free. I've experienced some amazing countries and gotten paid a decent penny to do what I love.
If you have the chance to travel for business, you should embrace the opportunity. You learn some valuable life lessons stepping outside of your comfort zone. Yes, the time spent on airplanes and in airports can suck, but the adventure of seeing new cultures and different ways of life can help you as a person and as an entrepreneur. Travel gives you guidance that only life experience can bring. Those lessons can't be learned in business school. Here are a few of the lessons.
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Things often are out of your control.
We like to be in control of what's going on in our business, but that's not a reality of life. Situations arise and things happen that you can't control. Travel teaches you this vividly. Flights get changed or canceled, hotel reservations disappear and you are stuck dealing with what you can't control. The truth is you don't have to always be in control.
Sometimes things aren't meant to work out in the way we had planned and hoped. The more you can adjust, the better an entrepreneur you will be. Life is full of chaos and how you deal with it determines how successful you are or can become. Sometimes plans looked good on paper or in our minds but don't work out. Don't be stuck in your position and miss what could be waiting if you work through a few turbulent moments.
Even the best plans need some room for flexibility.
Planning for your business is necessary, just as it is when you're arranging to travel. You should have a blueprint for where you're going and what you want to do in the next weeks, months and even year. But, as I mentioned in the last point, some situations are out of your control. Your plan needs flexibility, such as in travel.
I'm writing this article from Medellin, Colombia. I was in Panama City, Panama, training last week, but the company I'm consulting for currently needed me to travel to Colombia. This often happens in what I do and the industry I consult in. The flexibility has allowed me to make more money and experience a new country and culture. If you can be flexible with your plan, it could open the door in your business.
Related: Business Travelers: Don't Be Lured by the Siren Song of Free Wi-Fi
You can always go home.
I love to travel, and I cherish new experiences, but so much travel during these last two years has been exhausting. A few weeks ago, I was fed up and called Delta to get on a flight back to Maui immediately. Not knowing Spanish, getting behind on my work and the distance was too much. It felt good to know that I could just walk away and go home.
Having a business would be the best option for everyone if every day was filled with positivity and no problems --that's not reality. Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur and not every business is meant to last. Sometimes you have to let go and regroup. You have to spend a little time thinking about what is the next logical step.
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Even though the Internet and social media have connected us, the world is a big place. There are many places you can travel for business or pleasure and experience the beauty of diversity. If your dream is to be a paid international speaker, it's possible.
Running is business isn't always about money or a certain level of success. The primary goal of starting a business should be to create freedom in your life and make an impact in the lives of those your business serves. You can make this impact throughout the world if you have the opportunity to travel.