As an entrepreneur I am well aware of the importance of a strong community. It is so valuable to have like-minded people around you to bounce ideas, get feedback, and who just ‘get it’. I love living in Saigon and a big reason is the incredible community of entrepreneurs that are here. There’s never a lack of people to meet up with to co-work at cafes, grab meals or explore everything else there is to do in this city.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s all great. But, I recently returned from a month long trip to The Philippines which I was mostly ‘flying solo’ and made me appreciate the value of sometimes going at it alone. There were different parts of the trip where I was engrossed in more of a community, but for the majority it was me, my itinerary (or lack there of) and nothing but a return flight at the end of the month to dictate my plans.
The whole experience got me to realize that while having a community is very important, there are still benefits of taking the lonely road. Ultimately, I came to understand that while at times difficult, pushing forward by yourself and specifically solo travel leads to some distinct experiences that strengthen you as a business owner and entrepreneur.
You are forced to embrace uncertainty
When you are traveling by yourself, your days are filled with uncertainty. You might not know where you will sleep that night or even what city you will be in just a few days later. You don’t have a clear picture of where and what you will eat or where you will be working for the day. Even if you research beforehand, your days will be filled with new sights and experiences that previously you could at best have a vague picture of. To some, all of the unknowns can be unsettling. But, when you are traveling by yourself you are forced to thrive in it.
Like solo travelers, entrepreneurs must embrace uncertainty. Entrepreneurs must embrace the feeling of not knowing what will happen in their business today, tomorrow or in the future. If an entrepreneur is unable to embrace and thrive with uncertainty, he or she will be in for quite the difficult journey. So, the conditioning to embrace uncertainty that comes along with solo travel is conditioning that stays with you and strengthens you as an entrepreneur.
You must forge their own path
When you are traveling by yourself, you are the only decision maker and it is entirely on you to figure out your itinerary to maximize your experience. Solo travelers are writing their own story and not following any predetermined script.
Entrepreneurs must forge their own path as well. There is no one to tell them what to do or how they must do things. They must create the future for themselves. When you solo travel, you are forced to get into the habit of always deciding things for yourself. The more you get into this habit, the more you will be habitualized to think that way with your business and always.
You must be decisive with limited inputs
Not only do solo travelers have to forge their own path, they must decide the optimal path on limited inputs. They must decide which is the best place to stay with conflicting reviews read online and from friends. They have to pick and choose their schedule and decide what they will do and what they will miss in a new city. Solo travelers’ wellbeing is directly related to how well they can make such snap decisions on whatever information is available and sometimes just from intuition.
Entrepreneurs also must take decisive action when there is often incomplete information. What new product should they create? What is the best channel to market their product? What do they double down on for maximum growth? Entrepreneurs are forced to make these decisions and more ever single day. Since they are exploring new territory, there is never complete information to analyze before taking the leap forward. They are forced to work with whatever input they have as well as their intuition. When you are making these same kinds of decisions when you solo travel, you are able to learn to make the best decisions possible regardless of how little the input.
You must always be adopting and adjusting for maximum results
When traveling solo, you can not expect everything to always go smoothly. Maybe the hotel you picked turns out to be a dump. Or, the people you decided to make friends with turn out to be not your kind of crazy. When things take a turn for the wrong direction, solo travelers have two choices: adapt or suffer. They could stay with the group of ‘friends’ they met even though they know it’s not a good group. Or, they can excuse themselves even though that means starting over and having to meet a new group of people to hang out with. Even the best solo travelers make bad decisions sometimes (they are working with limited inputs) and when they do, they need to adjust their course.
Entrepreneurs also will fail if they are not constantly adapting and adjusting. If one of their assumptions seems to be incorrect, they must pivot. Being stubborn with their choices and not adapting to feedback is a sure course for failure. When you solo travel you lean to be quick to cut your losses and change course in order to have the greatest adventure. Those same skills of adjusting and adapting quickly will lead you to entrepreneurial success as well.
I came back to Saigon after my month of solo travel with a renewed sense of vigor for pushing my businesses forward and not allowing myself to get complacent by some of the ease that the community here provides. The habits that I was forming during my solo travel have helped me keep my foot on the gas and make progress with the qualities conditioned by solo travel.
While community is amazing and important, it’s also valuable to push yourself out of your comfort zone and into uncharted territory. A great way to do this is through solo travel. Solo travel doesn’t have to be a month long trip to The Philippines. It could be a weekend away in a new city. Or, even just an afternoon adventuring and exploring alone. Try it. You might find that you like it and regardless, you will definitely learn from it.