From Us to You, Global Observations, Growth, Innovation, Leadership, Travel

Similarities between Entrepreneurs

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for differences along my way. Those are the details that are easiest to spot when you first visiting a place with a different climate, cuisine, religion, and laws than your own. More often than not though, after some time to adjust to the new surroundings, in big cities and small villages, there are similarities just under the surface.

If the constant stream of motorcycles is any indication, there are more people living in some of the cities of South East Asia than I ever dreamed possible. My time in these bustling centres barely scratches the surface with endless food stalls, markets, tech stores and stacked buildings. Here you will find a bit of everything – chain brands becoming more obvious and independent businesses going above and beyond to create something that sets them apart. In stark comparison, I’ve also hopped off a bus arriving in a village to quickly realize that there wasn’t anything happening beyond the end of the main drag. That is until someone is kind enough to show you where to go.

Keeping the idea of the difference in the back of my mind, I’ve chatted with entrepreneurs in big cities and those end of the road villages. In hopes of not comparing too many apples to oranges, I’m surprised to find that there are actually more similarities than differences in their business goals. How is it that good business can mean the same thing in a big or small environment?

One business owner stands out to me, someone who established one of the first trekking companies in a village in the north of Laos, Luang Namtha. It’s known for it’s proximity to the jungle and small ethnic minority villages. After chatting with several companies, one beside the next down the road, my conversation with this gentleman stayed with me. He wasn’t just selling his trekking expertise; he was selling his word. He based his business on safety and transparency and went so far as to explain some of the scams the other companies were using to try wrangle in business. His client’s experience was the utmost priority.

I believe it comes down to personality. This gentleman and others want to feel like they’re providing an honest and reliable service and ultimately making people happy. They want to create spaces where they themselves want to hang out. They want to steer their own ship. They want their clients’ experiences to stick with them. I can’t speak on behalf of their individual hurdles, but having similar goals despite the myriad of differences (and challenges) fascinates me. Maybe we’re not so different after all.

By Megan Katz

On a one-way ticket, Megan is taking time to follow her curiosity literally. Fortunate enough to be on unfamiliar soil, she is keeping her senses clear and her wit sharp. As a maker, dancer and enthusiastic conversationalist, she is seeking meaningful ways to move through new spaces. Endlessly fascinated by human behaviour, local food and cultural norms, stay tuned as Megan shares her thoughts navigating newfound perceptions and impressions.