The travelling entrepreneur: Catalyst for great ideas

South Africa is a captivating place for the travelling entrepreneur
South Africa is a captivating place for the travelling entrepreneur

It didn’t take long, about 2 hours in another country and then I found it. With an eye for opportunity the travelling entrepreneur is never far from new ideas…

Surprising how a bit of cloth surrounded by elastic grabs your attention. But as I was being driven from Johannesburg’s main airport to my accommodation in the suburbs early that beautiful morning in May 2010, I was taken with something I had never seen before.

There on the wing mirrors of almost every other car I saw were ‘gloves’. Gloves?

Yes, but they were no ordinary gloves. The elasticated gloves tightly surrounded the rear of the driver and passenger mirrors and displayed the South African flag in full colour.

For the travelling entrepreneur, discovering new ideas can be very easy
For the travelling entrepreneur, discovering new ideas can be very easy

The gloves were far more elegant than the flags waving from cars we have become accustomed to in the UK – although admittedly there were an abundance of these too.

World Cup football fever had created a simple but highly innovative idea and the gloves were everywhere.

My point: I’ve never seen these mirror gloves in the UK yet they would probably sell just as well as they did in South Africa. And then there’s all the other countries.

When the travelling entrepreneur has the freedom to think, innovative & entrepreneurial thoughts flow far more freely than sitting in a room with a blank piece of paper. Anita Roddick built the Body Shop Empire following inspiration from her travels abroad. Her book, Body and Soul, covers this subject and many other stories. Every entrepreneur should have a copy.

Of course, hitchhiking is all about travel but crucially it adds that vital third dimension of meeting different people who provide both original ideas and objective feedback – all for free!

Since hitchhiking conversation was made by asking questions and listening to answers, people who picked me up would tell me, often in considerable detail, about the challenges they were facing in their work or personal life. In terms of research and idea generation, this stuff is gold-dust.  Even as I write, I am toying with the idea of hitchhiking around the UK for a week just to meet others and learn about their lives. For the travelling entrepreneur the seeds of new ideas exist within the problems being discussed.

So, if you’re ambitious but uncertain as to where to find inspiration and ideas, how about becoming the travelling entrepreneur? You don’t have to hitchhike, but the more you can engage with new surroundings the more information you will uncover. You don’t need permission to label yourself ‘ the travelling entrepreneur’ you just need to travel and remain open-minded and be patient. I promise you that the ideas will flow.

Key Learning Points: Travel broadens the mind. Spend time being the travelling entrepreneur and discover and research new ideas by seeing new places and meeting new people. Applying a successful idea that is already being used in another country can significantly reduce the business risk too.

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