How far removed are you from the rest of the world? It's a fascinating, dangerous time where we can build a startup around a $700 juicer in Silicon Valley and VCs will support it. Most agree, though, that this bubble will crash soon, and ideas will have to be proven on a scale grander than your insular community simply because lenders won't be as free with supporting startups. (In retrospect, we took security in that my own previous counterculture startup, Cuddlr, rose only from bootstrapping.)
And the absolute best defense against myopic ideas is to travel. A lot. You have to leave where people will tell you what you think you already know.
Travel has always been an educational experience for entrepreneurs, but today it is crucial for a couple different reasons.
In the past, shipping, advertising and other logistics limitations meant we could only release our product or service in specific areas. Today, technology allows us to release around the world all at once. In fact, we might even get backlash on social media if a hot new service isn't available in a potential customer's country. The rub is that, as an entrepreneur, you must know your cultures in both how they consume and how they interact. For instance, when I planned the worldwide launch of our app Cuddlr, it meant trying to figure out how it would be received in Germany versus, say, in Japan. It also helped me answer the ultimate question: How much does our idea scale? My travel experiences were priceless, and helped us have a phenomenal debut.
Also, traveling can create a national, if not international network for you and your ventures. By connecting with others, you have more insight into new cultures and have a business entry point to those specific regions. When I became an author, my first shoestring book tour basically consisted of all the places I had lived on the West and East Coasts as well as the Midwest and South. My local colleagues and friends were happy to recommend the best bookstores to do readings, and the same people became my grassroots advocates when it came to hyping up my events.
Skype, FaceTime and Oculus Rift tours will only take you so far. Touching down and connecting with people in different cultures is a great way to push your thoughts beyond the people who think just like you. It may even inspire you to create a more diverse company - the ultimate smart move for any entrepreneur interested in growth.