What do Buddhist temples, elephants, and coffee have to do with each other? More than you might think…
They all inspired me with their business success.
And in the unlikeliest of places, too.
You never know where in the world you’ll get your next inspiration for greatness. One of mine came from Thailand, where I visited my daughter a few years back.
Now Thailand may be more famous for its sex trade than for legitimate business success. But in five short days in the country, I met three thriving inspiring entrepreneurs. What can you learn from them?
Former Buddhist Monk
In Thailand, a key reason for becoming a monk is to get an education. In poor families, it may be the family’s only way to provide an education for their children. Through classroom education and chats with tourists, they learn to speak English and usually become quite fluent in it.
Such was the case with our tour guide.
He eventually left the monkhood to get married (monks take a vow of celibacy), and pursue other interests, like starting a tour company.
My husband and I and three other couples shared a half-day tour with him as our guide. Per couple fee was about $100 USD. Meaning he made $400 in a single afternoon, minus expenses such as his van, gas, admission to the Wat (temple) we visited, and marketing.
Not bad, considering the average Thai person makes $384 per month.
He had a personality befitting a tour guide too. Fun, smiling, and engaging.
He’s discovered a sweet spot corralling his unique gifts, abilities, and personality. And of course, capturing U.S. dollars flowing into the country. I call that jumping into the money flow.
Ask yourself: How can your business jump into a space where money is flowing?
From Farmer to Elephant Sanctuary Owner
One thing many Americans are passionate about is the plight of abused animals around the world. Including elephants.
Elephants are used and often abused for farm labor, circuses, or tourism 18 hours a day. Beating is common.
Scorching 105-degree heat can push them beyond their limits. That makes for some pretty unhappy elephants.
This former farmer had a better idea. He wanted happy elephants (and a thriving business). So he started the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, where visitors play with his elephants in the wild, feed them bananas and sugar cane, and throw water on them in the river.
[Note: I doubt any American would be willing to take on the liability for putting visitors up close to big clumsy animals that could trample. Just saying.]
In just a few short years he’s gone from struggling farmer to successful Elephant Sanctuary owner.
The day we were there, our group of 48 got a discounted rate of about $42 USD apiece. Do the math. In seven hours, he made $2,000, less his expenses. In a country where the average income is $384 per month.
How can you take what you currently do or own and give it a twist like he did?
The third person was the most inspiring of all to me. Because she had a very big “why.”
Café owner, visionary, and a true spitfire… tucked inside a tiny body.
This petite young woman started a café and hostel with a vision of helping trafficked young women leave the sex trade. Talk about starting with a big “why!”
She’s got more energy, vision, and compassion than ten people put together.
Now I don’t know her numbers exactly. But I do know that if her hostel were 100% booked, she’d be doing pretty well. Her average is probably more like 60%. But her hostel and café businesses feed each other.
Her businesses enable her to provide jobs for the downtrodden… those who need jobs, skills, and a real chance to start over in life. That’s a wonderful passion.
Now she’s expanding her reach with a home where women can live when they leave the street life. I don’t know what she’ll think of next, but no doubt it’ll be great.
Do you have a big enough “why?” for your business? If not, why not?
In all three cases, these successful Thai entrepreneurs used what they already had going for them and leveraged it to become so much more. Seems like the sum of one plus one might actually be greater than two.
Make no mistake… there’s plenty of poverty to go around in Thailand. But it was encouraging to meet enterprising and successful people halfway around the world who were making a difference in their homeland.
Who’s inspiring you today toward your next step of greatness?
To your unlimited business growth,