Top 5 Reasons Exchange Students Make Great Entrepreneurs

This story is now being hosted over at our live blog: The Exchange Student Academy

The exchange experience has many advantages. Travel becomes your way of life. The globe is now your home. You experience strange and new opportunities that shape your future. And hell, likely all this before you hit 20.

Now, you may never have thought about being an entrepreneur before, but let me ask you: Have you ever run a successful lemonade stand? Or wanted to import your favourite Japanese comics into your home country? Or were just plain dying to start your own YouTube channel to broadcast your thoughts and opinions like Levi Bernhardt?

You may be better adapted for the entrepreneurial lifestyle than you think. It takes a rare kind of person to thrive in the exchange life, and it takes a special kind of person to become a successful entrepreneur.

Here are the top reasons why past exchange students make killer entrepreneurs:


Interview-based exchange programs naturally attract socially adept students, so there’s a good chance your selection was based on factors like your involvement in social causes, sports, clubs or charities, not just your willingness to leave the country.

There’s an old adage in business that equates the size of someone’s network to the size of their net worth. It a cute rhyme that cleverly points out how every new person you meet diversifies your network by exposing you to different people’s skill sets and future professional opportunities. That’s good news for past exchange students, because all those new friends you made can easily become the bedrock foundation of your business network as you start working toward your business goals.

Of course, not all youth go into their host country as social butterflies, but no matter what your personality, it’s practically impossible to come home without making new connections from all over the globe. And with the advent of social media, staying in touch is easier than ever before.

Is your entrepreneurial goal to raise funds for an orphanage in Botswana? When you finally launch that Kickstarter campaign, you’ll have a larger audience to support your idea.


Exchange students are advanced, flexible problem solvers when faced with adversity. This can be a tremendous asset when starting your own business. Here’s why: It’s hard to know what to expect when arrive in a new country, so by definition, you’re venturing into the unknown, which can make learning about your new rules, schedules and expectations an overwhelming task. In business, unexpected situations happen just about every day, so you’re already equipped to deal with these unknowns.

Imagine you have successfully started an online business. Without warning Google changes it algorithms and the traffic to your site drops 40% almost overnight. This is where your experience with flexibility is a very real asset. Instead of thinking your business is doomed, you’ll have the tools to creatively problem solve.

Doesn’t sound familiar? What about that time when your host club told you that you couldn’t go see your boyfriend or girlfriend for the weekend? You still made THAT happen with some creativity. Wink wink ;)


Simply put: exchange students are action takers, and fortune favours the bold. As an entrepreneur, you’re out there doing and creating. You’re not afraid to take a calculated risk. So what if an idea fails? You’ve got 40 more after that to test out.

So even though you may only have the vision of something you’re trying to create, you’re willing to at least take those first critical steps on faith. Most businesses fail before they start because they were never pushed to become more than an idea through decisive action.

On exchange, as in business, you’re out there, you’re doing it, and you’re getting dirty in the process. And like on exchange, you’ll stare fear in the face and just start.


Talk to any past exchange and they’ll tell you their time abroad was an emotional roller coaster; out there, you’re always experiencing something new, learning and growing better each day, fighting through the bad, and celebrating the good. Your best growth on exchange happened in the realm of personal development. When things got tough, you learned to be tougher.

Starting a business can feel like an ultramarathon, because you’re constantly pushing yourself out of your comfort zones — on purpose!

And guess what? Tenacity is a requirement for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. And, baby, you’ve got it!


Exchangers have a strong belief that they can change the world. And YOU can. End of story.

Leave me a comment describing what other similarities Exchange Students and Entrepreneurs have in common:

About the Author

Amanda is a bubbly Canadian and past exchange student. In 2013, she became the youngest member of her Rotary Club. Now she’s running a social marketing business from a laptop while travelling the globe.

Passionate about teaching others how they can embrace their talents and build a life full of travel and adventure. She blogs over at and loves connecting with past exchange students.

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