It’s clearly very hard to start a business. But it’s even harder to start one while you are travelling the world. That’s what I’m currently doing with Podstel. What started as a passion project, which I’ve carried in my backpack for 2 years, has slowly evolved into a small passionate Team with a laser focus: Start up a The World’s First CrowdSourced Hostel in Leipzig.
Team Podstel have worked in conventional places such as coffee shops, but also from the side of the road hitchhiking, or even from our tent. One thing’s clear – you’ll never catch us in the same place twice.
I’ve realised quite a bit in all of this and I want to share 8 realisations with you from what I’ve learned from setting up Podstel.
With new and novel places, comes lots of fun things to do while you are on the road. But you need to get real – if you’re starting a business, you can’t treat it as a holiday and go on an adventure every single day.
You have to compromise and make trade-offs if you want to progress your business. You have to be willing to put in more hours than the 40-hour work week.
You have to sit down, execute and get your work done. I struggled with this to start with as I was still in travel mode. It took me a long time to accept that I was now travelling with a purpose, deadlines and work to do. I’m still not there but I’m getting better.
This naturally leads on from my first point. Balance is key. Don’t work too much that you neglect the moment and miss opportunities. You’re here, now, immersing yourself in new cultures and foreign lands. Tinker with the balance scale to find that point that pleases you.
Each day, I make sure I cover 3 cohorts:
Things with people socialising, laughing, catching up with friends).
Things for my body (adventuring, exercise, eating healthily).
Things for my mind (writing, reading, work, self-study).
3. Create Structure
Speak to my university mates and they will tell you that I used to be “Dan the Man with the plan.”
But now I hate having a routine, structure and deadlines to meet – it kills spontaneity in my eyes and especially while travelling.
However, I really value the importance of good organisation – it’s hugely beneficial and an integral component of a successful business.
In my opinion, when I don’t set any targets, goals and deadlines to meet then it feels like I’m randomly buzzing about like a bee trying to plant its nectar.
4. Build Your Team and Set out Parameters Before you hit the Road
How good are you at managing a team while you are on the move? Our core team travel together so it’s great that we get to communicate directly. We get plenty of time hitchhiking from the side of the road to conduct our team meetings.
My advice here would be to build your team before you leave to travel. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected by creating roles and delegating appropriately.
Think about all the factors that come into question too as soon as you start travelling (e.g. Time difference and access to wifi being two major hurdles to overcome).
5. It’s probably cheaper to set up your business while travelling
Are you aware that you will probably spend less money while travelling than you do back home in a Western country? Unless, of course, you are travelling somewhere like Norway.
Even in Australia, which many can be a very expensive country, I lived in a house, drove a car and cooked good nutritious food for myself on less $100 a week.
There’s a triangle of costs while travelling of Food, Transport and Accommodation. I hitchhike and travel unconventionally so that eliminates transport costs. I also have a tent and couchsurf so that eliminates accommodation costs. I’ve now been introduced to the concept of dumpster diving by a fellow nomad, and that eliminates food costs.
The point I’m making here is that the less money you spend on the travelling part means that you have more to put into your business to fund its growth.
6. New experiences lead to New Ideas, Fresh Inspiration and Creativity.
Creativity and new ideas are very much dependent on the diversity of one’s experiences but more importantly how one connects those experiences.
That means, the more you break the old and routine and put yourself out there into new environments and situations, the more creative you will become.
Travel is probably one of the most diverse experience you can have. You’re out there, meeting new people and indulging in new cultures every single day. Sensory overload at its best. It’s about as far from routine as you can get and therefore great for new inspiration and creativity.
Wrapping it up…
Luckily Podstel is a travel business so it complements the travel lifestyle. Not all businesses will. You’ve got to be honest with yourself and if it’s better to be in a fixed position, then do that.
It’s a tricky business trying to mix travel with a start-up but it adds purpose to your travels, which was key for me, as I felt like I was aimlessly wandering for such a long time.
In my eyes, life is about filling your bag with new experiences with the people that count. This way of life allows you to do that while (hopefully) creating a sustainable business that can support you well into the future.
One last point: Enjoy the process and make sure you document it all so you can show your loved ones in the future what a big muppet you were!