THE BLOG

How Traveling Helps You Succeed in Business

02/05/2015 10:52 am ET | Updated Apr 07, 2015
Nick_Thompson via Getty Images

There are wide discrepancies among studies, but one thing is certain: More startups fail than succeed. Are you starting a business? Do you want to increase your odds of making it? Here's my simple advice: Travel.

Before you dismiss this idea, let me explain, because travel can contribute to business in a big way. Here are three examples of how travel will help you succeed in business:

1. Travel fuels creativity.
According to an IBM survey of more than 1,500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries, creativity is more important than rigor, management discipline, integrity, and even vision to successfully navigating our increasingly complex business world. Simply stated, you have to be able to problem solve.

Traveling and problem solving go hand in hand. Case in point: As I write this article, thousands of airlines have already cancelled flights due to Winter Storm Juno, forcing travelers to get creative and rethink their plans.

The same goes for business: You have to be ready to find new, different ways to get things done. Some days, I find myself coming up with a whole new plan to reinventing my business. You'll face countless obstacles (just like in travel), and the only way to survive is to be creative.

2. Travel teaches you how to build a strong culture.
Renowned management consultant Peter Drucker is often credited for the phrase, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast," and I agree. Who you hire and how your employees interact both impact your business.

Running a company is almost like leading a small-scale country, because every one of your employees is different. Some people appreciate direct feedback; others crave an emotional connection. One employee might work well on a team; another might thrive independently. It's up to you to establish common ground.

Exposure to different cultures gives you a competitive edge. You have the opportunity to study people, pick up nuances, and incorporate this insight into your business. If you foster a strong organizational culture and hire people who emulate it, you'll be one step closer to business success.

3. Travel enhances your relationship with technology.
Ironically, travel forces you to rely on technology and break free of it at the same time. I've found both scenarios to benefit me as an entrepreneur.

First, let's explore how traveling has kept me at the forefront of technology. I love to travel, but I've had to learn how to stay connected - not to mention run a business - from all corners of the world. I remember having an 800-number that allowed me to use a payphone to listen to my emails. I was using applications like Skype long before they became mainstream. As a traveler, I am constantly leveraging new technology, which puts me ahead in my business.

Oddly enough, I've also had to learn how to disconnect from technology, because, in some places and circumstances, it's simply not an option. I used to couchsurf a lot and would often find myself going with the flow, not necessarily following technology's lead. Disconnecting is also good, because you get to reconnect. You clear your mind. Relax. Refuel.

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reported that, the less employees detach psychologically during off-hours, the higher their emotional exhaustion is in 12-months' time. This is one of a multitude of studies demonstrating the need for businesspeople to disconnect. This can be hard for entrepreneurs. Instead, let travel make the decision for you, and you'll come out on top.

In addition to the above benefits, travel opens the door to unlimited resources and a vast network. I have friends in Germany, Singapore, Brazil, and around the globe who connect me with everything from contacts to ideas to work space. All of these things translate to an increased likelihood of success.

The Bottom Line

Get out from behind your desk and beyond the walls of your organization. Go experience the world, and you'll discover you're more prepared to compete and win in business than before.