Tomorrow I could I die. So could you. Nothing is guaranteed in this world and this is the most terrifying and liberating lesson of all.
Life is an unexpected journey. We never know when our joy ride shall end. This unknown empowers or destroys.
As aspiring inventors, entrepreneurs, and challengers of the status quo we understand this better than most. Our lives, outlooks and goals greatly difer with much of society and separate our endeavors from that of most.
Growing up I was told to study hard, get a great job and follow the Game of Life. That is not who I am. I want so much more.
If you are reading this that internal understanding is surely strong within. You contemplate these crazy ideas and wonder where life will lead.
For quite some time I have been seriously considering the idea of massive travel plans. From 7 months abroad in Germany and Western Europe I found a passion for travel, culture and creativity I never knew about myself. I saw things, made friends and found a free spirit inside me I much enjoyed. From these exciting adventures though what will come next?
People say college, travel or this, that and the other will be the best years of your lives. I say they are wrong. Why ever have the best years of your life? Will your greatness ever truly be behind you? Is it all downhill from here?
As a young guy excited by the world I want to travel. Seeing, exploring and living life in new and unique circumstances are the experiences of living. I want adventure and excitement. But I also seek stability.
As an aspiring inventor how can one create effectively? With what tools may I prototype, test and transform the creations of my mind? Where will I work and can I even travel?
The Travel Temptations
First and foremost on the minds of aspiring travelers is a truly transformative life adventure. From America to Asia, Australia to Africa and everywhere in between the world is a wildly diverse place. People and places, monuments and mountains and many many beautiful creatures call this wonderful world home. Can living your life and having the most amazing experiences available wait until retirement? Is there ever a perfect time to travel?
2. Cost of Living
As a bootstrapped entrepreneur with no real wealth, the appeal of travel is extremely strong in the less expensive locales of the world. Places like South East Asia and South America while stunningly beautiful and original are actually quite inexpensive areas to live. With costs well below almost all parts of the developed world these places are exploding with life and legions of expats exploring and setting up shop.
Personally I have planned for sometime to travel to South East Asia. With strong entrepreneurial hubs in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh there are many cities making in-roads in economic development in which to live. And at often less than $1000 a month total expenditures areas such as these attract individuals strapped for cash creating the next businesses by which to change the world.
Finding monetary freedom frees up essential time to devote to creation. What work and results could quitting your corporate job create? Have you saved enough to survive while working to change your life?
America’s reigns as the manufacturing capital of the world waned many moons ago. Today total dominance in the area of manufactured goods is found in Asia. From China and India to Malaysia and Indonesia, many of the world’s powerhouses of production are found in South East Asia. Still other strong centers of influence are cropping up in Mexico, Brazil and Chile which work to spread the influence and power of manufacturing evermore outside the United States.
As Kickstarter creators it is critically important to work closely with factories to finalize and perfect products. Backer orders build up and ensuring quality is crucial to creating top notch products and the serious support needed to grow post-Kickstarter. This level of insight into production proves difficult without close and constant oversight early on.
Many successful entrepreneurs embark on short term adventures, living near manufacturing centers early on to oversee everything. Being at or near your factory takes time out of communication issues and makes things much more smooth. Coupled with the fact that these types of travel represent tax deductible business expenses and the appeal of living abroad while building manufacturing methods is a massively appealing proposition.
4. Freedom from Distractions
I once had the amazing opportunity to have an in-depth chat with Andrew Warner of Mixergy. In our interview he told a tale which truly impacted me. In a career most well known for popularizing entrepreneur interviews, Andrew built up an amazingly large and powerful audience.
But before becoming the pinnacle for his prolific podcasts he lived in Argentina. During his time living in South America he conducted interviews with his guests and had something America could never offer…anonymity. He was an outsider living in a culture in which no one knew him. There were no bros wanting to have drinks, bothersome dentist appointments or expectations for him to do anything. Instead the entire work day was unabashedly dedicated to doing what he does best.
By exploring the world you are able to become anyone, do anything and have no expectations on your time or focus. This was a focal point in Andrew’s appreciation for his time working in Argentina. Whether the excess of freedom would aid all entrepreneurs is unknown to me but eliminating distractions definitely has appeal to inventors busy with building.
5. Broader Markets
Let’s face it our inner circle of friends are scarily similar to ourselves. We have all heard the five closest friends quote adequate times to understand our own network, challenges and flaws.
Travel frees us from set patterns and puts us in front of new and diverse sets of people and circumstances which change the face of our innovative ideas and products. In an earlier interview with traveling entrepreneur Stefano Mangini our exotically explorative entrepreneur traveled from China to Italy on motorcycle while perfecting a product. Along the journey he tested ideas with extraordinarily different individuals and gained a wealth of wildly important feedback and inspiration on improving upon the bag.
Exposure such as this helps spread messages further and bolsters support and ideas from broader bases. As the world constantly shrinks, selling into international markets makes more and more sense and seeing perspectives of peoples in other parts of the world works to make international intrigue even more plausible.
The Evils of Explorations
1. Now or Never
In business I have always heard rumors of the elusive work-life balance. For the life of me my attempts to find it have been ultimately unsuccessful although a new and innovative culture may do just that.
But what if you overshoot? Will I ever come back to visit? By traveling to spectacular places around the globe you feel yourself the perpetual tourist. The tourist who takes pictures, constantly explores and eats in the fanciest foodie places of the area. This does not work as a traveling entrepreneur. Digital nomads need routines of work and structure to seriously build businesses and get work done.
But how do you pull yourself away from the waterfalls, ruins or ancient marvels all around you. Focus feels as though it would be extremely difficult in prolific places and is something one must be confident in in order to embark.
2. Culture Shock
People and places are all entirely different. The further one ventures from home the more apparent these uniquenesses are and the harder it can be to cope. When traveling too quickly this can become debilitating for creators looking to build businesses.
How much time could you possibly dedicate to design, marketing and making an epic business when food and shelter aren’t first settled upon? Even after somewhat assimilating with indigenous culture the constant mind games of language and life can drain and destroy creative juices needed for true innovation. The same strengths which work the mind and stimulate the senses can be overwhelming when not living long enough in a single location.
Personally I struggle with change. It is one reason I remain adamant in adventuring through the world(I must conquer myself). Despite these efforts I remain cognizant of my weaknesses. I plan to live 2-4 months per city in order to really acclimate and understand the amazing place I am privileged to live.
For inventors and designers out there interested in product development and Kickstarter creations it is tough. We want to make things with our hands and create killer products.
But in many areas of the developing world where living costs are bearable this becomes an issue. Finding focused spaces geared towards the maker movement and hobbyist builders is a challenging proposition at best. Simply put poorer areas hardly have the resources necessary to dedicate to fab labs for individuals. This is the largest, scariest and most powerful piece of the puzzle holding me back. I am working on projects but pushing forward without access to tools isn’t exactly easy.
Despite the challenges there are a few phenomenal resources available for those looking to find MakerSpaces and FabLabs around the country and world.
Suitcase startups are hard, especially as an inventor. Even for expats planning to spend several months in each new and exciting location there is a serious problem posed for many inventors. What happens when you move? Can your invention fit freely in a suitcase or is all lost?
This is particularly problematic when prototyping products. Either you squeeze inventions into gear, ship it for supreme expensive sums or scrap the whole thing. There is not really any other option to consider when working to create change and innovation on the road.
The problem is further grown when needing to continuously acquire more materials for building. Not all areas have the service and selection of your neighborhood Home Depot. Finding feasible materials to make your ideas come to life constantly is in flux. Cities support separate systems and new places poise additional issues for getting settled.
5. Networking and Marketing
Planning and preparation are key to creating successful Kickstarter campaigns. Without powerful pre-launch strategies and support it is all but impossible to initiate innovation through crowdfunding.
Outreach and relationships are a pivotal piece of this puzzle. From local meetups and engaging with others in your industry to blogger outreach and sending samples it is important to get these aspects right. The cores of crowdfunding are complicated by building a business on the road.
Everything from sending samples, podcast interviews and potential news features feel significantly more stressful when not in the States. Proof is found in the plentiful interviews with European inventors on the podcast. Other areas of the world are much less in tune with the Kickstarter crowdfunded approach and add additional and unwanted challenge to campaign creation.
As an aspiring inventor and entrepreneur I certainly see the enormous benefits built upon businesses built during travel.
Similarly stresses and struggles of allowing one’s self to explore and experience the world place food for thought into the idea of expat entrepreneurship. As in life there are no certainties or set paths in which success and happiness solely reside. I for one feel as though the pros of pushing the limits and journeying out into the world overcome the pitfalls but this is a personal choice.
Whether travel or productivity push you forward in your way of life I love to hear feedback from fellow inventors. What has worked for you guys? What are your opinions on adventure and can you help others looking to live, learn, love and create the world by sharing your stories? Aiding entrepreneurs is the reason for all of this.