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This article was published on November 28, 2017

Bootstrapping in another land: Why college entrepreneurs should travel abroad

Bootstrapping in another land: Why college entrepreneurs should travel abroad
George Beall

Gone are the days when college students had to wait until after graduation to pursue their professional dreams. Now, students are starting their own businesses from their dorm rooms. These burgeoning entrepreneurs are tackling  numerous life lessons  beyond the confines of a classroom.

While entrepreneurship can hold some of the most indelible experiences of our lifetime, the combination of travel can bolster your success. This will give you a better assessment of how you fit into a global market, as well as what you can take away from others to bring back home. Plus, with how many opportunity and risk you’re willing to take on in school, there’s no better time to do this then right now. Here’s why:

Take learning from a different perspective

As a student, one of the biggest benefits of being abroad is being able to take in not just a different culture, but how that place came to be. While we all love Instagramming the meals, memories, and monuments, knowing the local perspective and history can shed light on the world in a completely new way. Yes, this experience could be one of the most valuable for any budding entrepreneur, which is why you should try seeking out a mentor to help guide you.

“People don’t connect to rubrics anymore,” says Richard Werbe, founder of the micro-tutoring platform Studypool. “One thing we’ve seen out of Studypool is the immense amount of people who want a tutor from overseas to learn because they feel they connect better with them. It’s not just about understanding a new language for them; it’s about actually knowing how it’s used and evolved over time. This is about experience.”

Which, Werbe makes a good point. At this day and age, learning has shifted less from just picking up hard skills and instead trying to develop soft skills that carve out a bigger picture. Keep this mentality in consideration when you’re abroad, as it will only help your business grow.

Entrepreneurship is all about the experience

Whether you’re a new business owner, freelancer, or even just someone interested in either/or, the draw to go abroad is not just about the experience that you’ll get, but how you can relay that knowledge base to others. In fact, a great example of is overseas teaching opportunities, which are attracting young entrepreneurial hopefuls in droves.

American International English Teacher’s Association connects young professionals eager to live abroad with teaching posts in English language institutions. According to founder, Zac Grove, “Spending time teaching in a foreign country offers real-life experience that you just can’t get at a typical desk job. Living in a new location and interacting with new cultures forces you to constantly learn and problem solve on your own, which are necessary skills for pursuing any independent venture.”

While you don’t want to be the founder that is constantly mentioning what they’ve learned abroad, you do want to be mindful of how these individual lessons can be brought forth to a larger scale.

An understanding of global industries

Finally, one of the most important takeaways from your study abroad is going to be learning how your startup can make a global impact. While that might seem like a lofty goal to some, the sheer notion of trying to solve a problem that goes well beyond just our borders could be what sets you apart from the competition. For example, as Kip Skibicki of StarChild Management and Top Notch Threads notes about the music industry, commerce has no bounds.

“Traveling gives you the opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes and become a more curious and empathetic person. As an entrepreneur, you aren’t just building a brand for yourself, you’re doing so in the hopes that it will benefit the lives of others. Traveling forces you to step outside of yourself and imagine how your product, whether it’s a t-shirt or a song will resonate with someone else,” says Skibicki.

Although it’s going to be tough to give your elevator pitch in another language, there are certain core elements that your startup can learn from this. After all, people all over the world know the brands Coca-Cola, Apple, and even Nike. Why is this the case? Because those companies solve problems that don’t require a language to understand what they do.

As you take the time abroad, take a moment to reflect on this one thing: How can I change the world, even by just a little bit? Once you’ve found that, it’s time to start working.

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