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How international work experience will make your startup a success

Monty Majeed
23rd Aug 2016
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We are living in the age of entrepreneurship. One after the other, startups are mushrooming around the country. Entrepreneurs are starting to think big and are looking up to their counterparts abroad for managerial, organisational, technological and operational inspiration. Along with these changes, we are also seeing the rise of a new breed of global entrepreneurs. Many successful professionals are returning to India to kick off their startup dreams after having gained international experience from reputed organisations. There are many such success stories like that of Ambarish Gupta, who left his job at Microsoft to start the cloud telephony service Knowlarity, and Kunal Bahl, of Snapdeal, to point out. To get a fresh global perspective, international work experience is definitely helpful. Here’s how it will help drive your startup to success:

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It inculcates a mindset to learn

A study published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research found that entrepreneurs with functional international experience developed an open mindset to keep learning from new opportunities. This creates a fertile ground for generation of new business ideas, says the study, which was conducted using data collected from 291 Swedish entrepreneurs. Those who have been exposed to international work cultures will be more open to upgrading their skills with time and will also encourage the same among their employees, thus being able to reap the benefits of newer technology and a skilled workforce.

It makes you flexible and adaptable

Working in a new country involves stepping out of your comfort zone, and the only way you can fit into an international work culture is by adapting to it. You can pick up the good points in their work culture and, when you are back home and starting your own venture, incorporate these into your startup’s culture. It will also help you adapt faster to the challenges that may arise during the course of your operations back home.

It gives you access to a global network

Thanks to your work experience, even before you hit the ground with your idea, you will have access to a well-developed global network in your field. This will help you stay abreast with the latest developments in the industry happening around the world and how companies are dealing with these changes abroad. This will be of more help if your network is largely based in more developed markets.

You gain the ability to handle a diverse workforce

One of the most discerning features of workplaces in developed countries is its multiculturalism and diversity. They are filled with people from all kinds of backgrounds and nationalities. It helps you to familiarise with various cultures and different working styles. It also gives you first-hand knowledge in managing such diversity in the workspace. An an entrepreneur, this will help sensitise you to diversity in your workforce and enable you to use it to your best possible benefit.

Your language spectrum broadens

Your international work experience not only exposes you to newer cultures, but new languages, too. Microsoft Founder Bill Gates once said that his biggest regret was not learning a language other than English. This came close behind Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s interaction in Mandarin with Chinese university students at an event. Mastering the language of a country you wish to expand to or wish to conduct business in is important to develop meaningful business relationships with key stakeholders there and to connect and bond with your target audience. Yes, you could make do with a translator or interpreter, but attempting to speak and pick up a new language itself is such a powerful conversation starter.

International work experience is a good investment for aspiring entrepreneurs. It broadens your horizon and offers a fresh perspective on doing things. When you return to the comfort of your home after your stint abroad, you could use these skills to your advantage and be confident enough to lead efficiently.

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