My recent trip to Johannesburg and Capetown in South Africa was eye opening. I went there expecting to have some fun, meet some new people in my MBA@UNC program and bring back some goodies for my family. What I didn’t expect was to come back refreshed and inspired in my pursuit of my entrepreneurship dream. What you can get out of traveling to another place, whether it be a few hours drive or in my case, 26 hours of flying, traveling to new places can be an amazing competitive edge as a budding entrepreneur. Here’s why:
You Find New Problems To Solve. Going to new places can jump start your creative juices by learning about problems that you may have never seen before. In Capetown, we learned that part of the education gap in South Africa was due to poorly qualified teachers, and crazy enough, teachers with poor attendance! One solution being reviewed by the government is having teachers wear GPS devices to make sure they went to work; imagine that! There are so many problems out in the world that need fixing; maybe you are the right person to help fix them.
There Are Better Ways To Solve The Same Problems. Why re-invent the wheel if someone’s already done it? You may find new solutions to the same problems in your hometown that you just haven’t seen yet and you can bring back. Africa as a whole has generally kind of skipped the old land line telephone model and leap frogged straight into using cell phones, and as a result, a lot of their solutions around communications are mobile based, and in some cases, more advanced than here in the states where we still use fax machines!
You Can Gain New Prospective Target Markets. Charlotte is notorious for having people bring “new things” to town that aren’t new where they came from, i.e. VGBG, the first beer garden in Charlotte started by transplant New Yorkers who saw NYC overly saturated with beer gardens already. Your idea or service doesn’t have to be new, just new to someone else.
You Meet Diverse Potential Business Partners. The more perspective, the more diversity, the better the ideas and the better your team. Find people who don’t live in your immediate area who have different strengths as a result of where they grew up and lived to help round out your team.
You Come Back With A New Outlook. Going to different places, especially places where people are living with less whether it’s a third world country or a lower income neighborhood, gives you perspective about what’s really important in life. You may crying over the fact that you’re not a millionaire yet, and kids like these are just happy they get to hang out with their friends and live another day. Traveling can be a good smack back into reality.