I never thought I’d become an entrepreneur. In college I wanted to be successful, independent and make an impact. I interned for big, international organizations, thought I’d work in Human Rights or for the UN. But then, I lived on four different continents and traveled over 30 countries in three years.
I pivoted: every job suddenly seemed too slow moving, every industry too narrow-minded, a life lost in a blur of daily routine. Unthinkable. I started my own marketing business and co-founded NomadApp, now a Silicon Valley-based travel tech startup. I am by far not “ready” to be an entrepreneur (nobody’s ever ready) but I think travel has been a big puzzle piece in preparing me for startup life and has taught me a few interesting things along the way.
Traveling Teaches you Resilience
Having a resilient team is one of the most important things in a startup. Things will go wrong — all the time. You will run out of money, lose clients, and get rejected. Sometimes, you will have to tough it out. Spend the night on buses, shower in dirty hostel bathrooms, and sleep in bunk beds with noisy roommates. But in the end, resilient travelers and entrepreneurs alike will get up the next day, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the journey.
You Learn to be Humble
Travel has also taught me to be humble. I have met incredible people all over the world that have received me like family in their homes. Random acts of kindness — often by people that had less than I did. People have shared their life stories with me making my own problems seem small and almost ridiculous. Once, I lived with a lady who has lived on her own since she was fourteen and has worked two jobs while sleeping only two-four hours each night for the last forty years. And I’m complaining about my 12h a day startup-life?? She has taught me more than all the business books I’ve ever read. The most successful startup entrepreneurs are incredibly humble and down-to-earth. I believe only humble leaders can be good leaders.
You Learn not to Sweat the Small Stuff
Thought, losing a client is the end of your world? You think getting your phone stolen is gonna ruin your life? No, it’s not. If you travel, you’re gonna lose stuff, miss a flight or a bag. Not a big deal. Life goes on. You realize that only very few things in life really matter.
Traveling Teaches you to be Spontaneous and Pivot Fast
Startup life is like landing in an unknown city. You can take an Uber to the closest hostel, head straight to the beach or rent a tent to camp out . Which one will be the right decision? Nobody knows. You can make plans, but things change ALL the time. You have to be able to read the signs (often in a confusing language), follow your guts and be spontaneous; even taking the night airfare that dropped to only $20 to get to the next destination. If you stay home all day, you’ll miss out. Keep going.
You Learn to See Different Perspectives
Traveling puts everything into perspective. You meet people of various cultures with different ways of thinking. As a startup founder (especially in Silicon Valley) it is easy to get stuck in your little bubble, creating a Silicon Valley solution that fixes only Silicon Valley problems (or nobody’s problem at all). Go out there, listen to other people’s problems, see how they see the world and tackle their daily lives — create solutions for the world’s problems.
Traveling Sparks Creativity
You ran out of money? Create a viral video about your life. Sell cereal to fund your startup like AirBnB did. There are plenty of ways to tackle problems if you’re creative. A CEO’s job is not to burn the most amount of investor money in the shortest period of time. His job is to create maximum impact with limited funds. The day our little travel tribe had to prepare food over an actual fireplace in a Caribbean National Park, we worked together best as a team. Everybody ate and it was probably the most delicious meal we have ever had. Traveling, you learn how to open coconuts without a machete and make your investment money last as long as possible.
Traveling Encourages you Live Louder
One of the best things about traveling is that it made me appreciate every single day and realize how fast life goes by unless you get out of your comfort zone every now and then. Much of being a traveler is a mindset: to be resilient, humble and thirsty for adventure. Life’s an adventure: get out there and live it! With our startup NomadApp we want to make it easier for you to go out there and see the world. We created an algorithm that shows you all the places you can go based on your budget and preferences. Get it for free here.