What happens when 20 entrepreneurs live together in Bali for a month? A lot of learning, it turns out. By Lieve de Lint (Events & Content Director, Project Getaway)
Working for yourself can feel isolating. If you're not in an entrepreneurial-rich environment, you can miss bouncing off ideas with people who just get you. The walls in your office can start to feel uninspiring and the chair you sit on daily suddenly gives you this undeniable itch that just won’t stop. It's only human to crave some fresh air and a change once in a while.
In 2010 tech-entrepreneur Michael Bodekaer felt the same. He worked passionately on his startups, but longed to have a network of like-minded, adventurous people and a radical change in work-environment. So he launched Project Getaway, a 30-day networking event for entrepreneurs.
The first event took place in Bali, a place full with culture, tropical beaches and the most delicious fresh fruit juices. He made sure everything was taken care of, from food to laundry to the best work-spots, so people could only focus on that what truly mattered: their passion. What started out as an experiment (because who says living together with 20 strangers and working under palm trees would really boost your life and business?) grew into a community and more events in more countries followed.
The idea seemed to work: If you focus on that what you're passionate about, interact and brainstorm with those who can lift you higher and get rid of all the distractions, you gain time, energy, knowledge, lifelong friends and a crazy bunch of beautiful memories. And last but not least: new knowledge. Here are seven things we've learned through the Project Getaway experience.
Be Around People Who Have Something to Share
When I came to Project Getaway in 2011, I experienced hands on how important it is to have positive, like-minded people in your direct environment. In my case I had the 'Just do it!' slogan on my desktop for years, but simply looking at how some of those wonder-guys could have multiple businesses, an incredible physique, the highest smile-ratio and still found time to hang in the pool three times per day had a much bigger effect on me than any quote on my digital wall.
Another biggy was how many entrepreneurs welcomed failure instead of fearing it. The event was often used to try out new business ideas and it became clear that the key to success doesn't only lie in taking action, but also in keeping an open mind, being willing to fail, adjust, revise and willing to stop a project on time when it simply isn't working.
Good Things Take Time
The biggest learning for me was on a relationship level. It showed me multiple times that it takes time to nurture true relationships, and that it's very likely that someone you don't directly click with in the beginning, can still end up becoming a great friend for life. Proximity makes you like people more, and time makes you get to know people better. So if you want to build your network, give it some good quality time. One weekend isn't enough.
Changing Environment Gives You a Bird's Eye View
Lyndsey Burton, founder of Choose.net, says that the radical different environment allowed her to take a step back and see the bigger picture, which she hadn’t seen for a while, in her house back in England. If you want something different, do something different.
Other Entrepreneurs Give You Perspective
By hanging around other entrepreneurs, Lyndsey saw her business through their eyes, which changed her perspective and the way she works. "Since PG I've definitely refocused on doing more of the right things; outsourcing and automating more, which have both helped to increase my productivity as well as the overall quality of the Choose website. Primarily that's been down to networking with people in the technology industry and having the chance to talk in a very open and friendly way with people about how they do things as well as what they would do in my position."
A Location Independent Lifestyle Is Possible
For Rosetta Thurman, founder of Happy Black Woman, PG helped her see that living a location-independent lifestyle was possible, which made her decide to move forward with her dream of living in Hawaii. She realized that she just needed to expand her vision of what was possible for her business and her life.
She began taking steps to automate her business by using more sophisticated CRM, email marketing and shopping cart systems. She also created two additional products and services that she could sell and deliver from anywhere in the world, as long as she has a laptop and an Internet connection. While she already had a successful consulting business when she signed up for PG, the changes she implemented since then helped her to build the foundation for a sustainable, location-independent enterprise that doesn't require her to live in a certain place.
Find or Create the Right Environment
For international best-selling author and marketing expert Jacqueline Biggs, Project Getaway had the same effect. She implemented more travel in her life, and made sure she could still run her consultancy business from abroad. Back in London she also realized how she missed the buzzy, vibrant, positive work-environment of Project Getaway, and how that actually impacted her work-mood and drive. Working amongst people that are just as passionate as you, simply gets you fired up much quicker. Since then she tried to find a similar environment in London, so if you have ideas, let her know!
Want to attend the next Project Getaway? The biggest event is coming up, this year from the 1st of October until the 1st of November in tropical Bali, Indonesia. Only a few spots left.
Could a change in location positively impact your business?
About the guest blogger: Lieve de Lint, born in Canada, moved to the Netherlands when five years old, studied neuropsychology and later got involved in the online industry. She wanted to travel and kickstarted that dream by attending Project Getaway in 2011. Together with Tom Huges she became partner in the project and organizes Project Getaway events.