Take advantage of international experience to boost your entrepreneurial skills

According to Time Magazine, international study or work experience can not only make you more successful, but it can actually make you smarter overall. In fact, evidence suggests that international experience is extremely valuable for entrepreneurs: it can teach you different ways to approach projects, deal with problems, and alternative methods of communication.

In a global economy, having a global perspective is increasingly important. Students of the Global Entrepreneurship Program study and work in three countries across three different continents, giving them the ‘international advantage’. New skills learned from time abroad can then be implemented in the students’ own startups.

Proven advantages of international experience

Research on higher education students who were studying abroad showed that their “multicultural engagement” (in other words, the extent to which the students could adapt and learn about other cultures) predicted how “integratively complex” their thinking was. Put simply, the more the students had an open and adaptive attitude toward foreign cultures, the more their brains were able to make connections between disparate ideas; thus improving their problem-solving – a key skill for entrepreneurs. The study showed this was not simply correlation, but directly affected by time spent in an international context.

In fact, a separate study found that that people with international experience are more likely to start their own businesses and create new products.

International experience also boosts your communication skills: you become a more effective and thoughtful communicator because you have to adapt to social cues and rely less on a common language. Global Entrepreneurship Program student Frédéric can attest to this. He reflects on his time in China: “I had to adapt to new payment and banking methods, communicate effectively despite a language barrier, and adjust to a culture which is very different from my own… everything is more complicated in everyday life when you don’t speak the language and know the rules.” Overcoming these obstacles primes your brain to be more creative and evolve more complex reasoning.

Global training, local implementation

Not only does international experience boost skills at an abstract level, but it also has concrete benefits like international contacts, an insight into other business cultures and (sometimes) additional language skills.

Global Entrepreneurship Program alumnus Darren O’Connell benefited from the ‘international advantage’ while at emlyon business school. After graduating, Darren was able to use his international experience to start a new business venture in China. His company, Regeneration Labs, supports environmental NGOs through eco-tourism.

Similarly, another former Global Entrepreneurship graduate, Abhinandan De, has focused his entrepreneurial skills on a specific part of the world: the city of Kolkata, India where his ridesharing app is soon to take off. And Tim and Nathan, who met while on the Global Entrepreneurship Program, launched their joint venture in Colorado, USA.

Frédéric also met his business partners while studying at emlyon business school. He believes the rich mix of cultures and nationalities on the program has been one of the best aspects of studying such an internationally-focused program.

With Time Magazine stating “people who have international experience are better problem solvers and display more creativity”, it’s easy to see the benefits of international experience for entrepreneurs, not to mention the enhanced ‘soft skills’ and personal growth that comes with it. The experience of working and studying across three continents offers a deeper global perspective that our graduates make use of when implementing their own startups at a more local level.

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