Far from being a frivolous activity fit for retirees or wide-eyed college grads, travel can play an important role in the development of entrepreneurs and the businesses they lead. In fact, one study found that up to 94 percent of American business leaders believe that travel experiences improve the competitive advantage of both individual employees and companies as a whole. That's because travel instills lessons and strengthens skills that directly translate to effectiveness in the workplace.
Need convincing? Here are five reasons that traveling should be on every entrepreneur's to-do list.
It'll teach you how to adapt.
Living out of a suitcase while navigating delayed flights, foreign cultures, and lost valuables requires flexibility, resilience, and a willingness to accept uncertainty--all traits that will assist you in coping with the doubts and rapidly changing plans that are common to entrepreneurship. Think of travel as a practice ground for testing your limits and learning how to overcome challenges (without losing your sanity).
It'll allow you to network.
Traveling the country or globe will force you to push your comfort zone by interacting with people you might never have met otherwise, allow you to make connections all over the place, and give you the opportunity to learn from the different perspectives of other people. Cultivating this expansive network of supporters, influencers, and mentors will be incredibly valuable to your business in both the short and long term.
Bonus: Learning how to empathize with people from different backgrounds will improve your cultural awareness and make you a better communicator -- and we all know that strong communication is critical to a team's success.
It'll make you more creative.
Getting a change in perspective and the space and time to reflect on your life and work can provide some much-needed clarity and make room for new ideas to bubble to the service. In fact, the simple act of thinking about traveling somewhere new can boost creativity -- and that effect is magnified by actually going there. Travel may even inspire the idea for an entirely new business -- for example, the CEO of TOM's shoes has shared that he got the idea for the company while traveling in Argentina.
It may make your business more profitable.
A study conducted by Oxford Economics and Synovate (with oversight by the U.S. Travel Association) found that business travel is good for companies' bottom lines. The study found that the average U.S. business would forfeit 17 percent of its profits in a single year of eliminating business travel. That's because traveling for business can help retain customers, convert prospects, and build solid relationships with collaborators.
It'll prevent burnout.
Entrepreneurs are no strangers to stress -- and left unchecked, this can take a terrible toll on your mental and physical health as well as your workplace productivity. Enter travel: one of the best antidotes to stress. Booking a trip can give you a break from the pressures of the daily grind and allow you to rejuvenate so you return ready to tackle that to-do list.
What all this adds up to is that traveling can make you a better leader who's capable of considering the big picture, communicating effectively, adapting to changing markets and consumer pressures, and making thoughtful decisions. So find yourself a great suitcase, prioritize packing light, and get out there and see the world. Whether for business or pleasure, traveling does an entrepreneur good.