An Entrepreneur Thinks About His Lessons Learned While Living Abroad

Living abroad is a game changer for any entrepreneur; take everything you think you know and turn it upside down. You’re likely to discover things about yourself and the world that you’d never imagined, even when living in a county that’s like your native nation. The education and life experiences you gain from being immersed in another culture is incomparable to any other schooling you could have and the lessons that you can take away from it, especially as an entrepreneur, are invaluable.

Stretch Your Comfort Zone

How can you grow if you’ve always stayed in your comfort zone? Living abroad forces you to have moments of uncertainty and discomfort, but instead of looking at these moments in a negative light, you should turn them into a teaching moment. Let these experiences of the unknown take control. Staying within your comfort zone can make you avoid new ideas and opportunities — the very opposite of what makes a successful entrepreneur! If you aren’t challenged, you’re not growing as a person and as an innovator.

How to Ask for Help

Many entrepreneurs feel like they have to tough it out alone and “fake it until they make it.” The universal truth is that we all need help sometimes. When you’re living in another country there are going to be plenty of things you don’t know. Experiencing the unknown can be a humbling experience within itself. Many entrepreneurs have a strong sense of independence, but it’s important to remember that asking for help doesn’t negate your independence or your abilities. You can’t do everything alone. Everyone needs help sometimes and it’s important to be able to understand when you need it and how to seek it. From a business standpoint, utilizing the help that you have available can also boost brand awareness, increase your networking skills, and lead to business growth. So, don’t be afraid to get comfortable asking for help.

Question the Status Quo

We tend to see the world through our own culture’s eyes. Traveling allows you to see the world through the eyes of other cultures and makes you realize that most things people think are culturally relative. Culture shock is defined by as a “sense of confusion, discomfort, disorientation, and uncertainty felt by those exposed to a different cultural environment.” Culture shock is an important tool because when you experience it your long-held ideas, beliefs, and your comfort zone are being challenged. Learning to accept another culture’s techniques and perspective of ways to do certain things allows you to think outside your culture box and will promote increased creativity, individualism, and a greater understanding of the world. All are valuable skill sets for any entrepreneur.

Develop Better Communication

When living abroad, you will most likely discover that a friendly smile can get you far. Communication of all types is an art form and learning how to communicate with people from many backgrounds in both verbal and non-verbal ways is important when it comes to business. If you’re living in an area that has language barriers, you may have to rely significantly on nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication also becomes a helpful tool in business. We gather a lot of information from physical cues and knowing how to use effective nonverbal communication may mean the difference between a successful business pitch and a strikeout.

It’s About Advancing, Not Perfecting

Some entrepreneurs strive for perfection. Living abroad shakes up the idea that you need to be perfect. You’ll make mistakes at some point: a cultural faux pas, misspeaking a foreign language, or even taking the wrong public transit and getting lost. It’s not about being perfect. Continuing to learn and adapt is what matters and the flexibility that comes with learning and adapting quickly is especially useful for developing problem-solving skills. Every successful entrepreneur sees the value in learning from their mistakes and adjusting accordingly. Always keep advancing and adapting and the business world will be your oyster.

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