Are you an introvert who would love to start a business, but feel you’re held back by your quiet, reserved nature? Extrovert tendencies, such as being outgoing networkers, action-oriented, and risk-takers, are often named as desirable qualities for an entrepreneur to have, but that may be due in part to what author Susan Cain calls a cultural bias rather than a template for business success. According to Cain, we live in a “society that favors action over contemplation.” She says this bias stems from our Greco-Roman roots and was solidified as we moved from an agricultural to industrial society. Does this mean that introverts can’t be successful entrepreneurs? Not at all.
You Aren’t Limited By Your Personality Type
Extroverts and introverts both have their strengths and weaknesses. Having a clear understanding that you aren’t limited by your personality is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Introverts have many excellent qualities that bring a lot of value to a business, such as the ability to focus for long periods of time, critical thinking, and high observation skills. Since they process things internally, they tend to have ideas well fleshed out before acting on them and lead from a focused place.
Focus on Your Strengths
You may not be gregarious or a networker, but maybe you have a keen mind for analytics and marketing. Most introverts tend to be good listeners, which can help you learn exactly what a client is looking for and allow you to offer products or solutions that are a perfect fit. Instead of focusing on the things you don’t feel good at, find a way to market the skills you do have. These will bring you, and your customers, far more value than trying to be a square peg in a round hole.
Budget Your Energy and Set Boundaries
One of the trickiest things about being an introvert is how draining the day can feel. While extroverts thrive on activity, many introverts have limited energy reserves and can quickly become exhausted or overwhelmed. Determine what you can handle. Can’t do two or three meetings in a day? Stretch them out throughout the week. Balance low energy activities with ones that you find more draining.
Introvert or extrovert, you’re only one person, and chances are there will be some tasks that are not your forte. Learning to recognize that and allow yourself to be comfortable with assigning the task to someone better suited to it will be good for your business and your energy levels. A successful business owner will have both introverts and extroverts on the team and understand how to assign them to tasks according to their strengths.
Tech is a lifesaver for many introverts as it allows them to take a bit more time to collect their thoughts and put them into words. Many companies now rely on social media as a primary form of customer service, and it can be a beneficial tool for introverts to thoughtfully perform customer interaction, outreach, and complaint resolution. Email and instant messaging can reduce your face-to-face time, and allow you a little longer to reply. E-commerce can be a useful way to sell products without resorting to high-energy sales. Utilizing tech can keep your energy reserves up while also handling day-to-day business.
Some of the most successful people today, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg, describe themselves as introverts, proving that it’s your drive, not your personality type, that dictates success. While starting up a business may not feel 100 percent comfortable for the introverted, there’s no reason to tell yourself that it can’t be done!