Running a business and being an introvert may seem like a complete mismatch at times. Often times the activities that are conventionally associated with being a successful business owner are the opposite of the activities that define what makes an introvert happy and healthy. How do I know this? Because I am a mom, an entrepreneur, and an introvert. A BIG. Huge. Introvert. Over the years of running my own business I have found some really useful introverted entrepreneur tips.
Here are my best tips on how to use your introvert powers to be a successful entrepreneur
Before we delve into making these things work together in harmony (and I will talk about it, I’ve got over 15 years experience in combing them and I can’t wait to share with you on this blog) I want to say that introvert, extrovert, and ambivert (we’ll get to that in a minute) are not static labels, they are positions on a scale which measure particular characteristics of a person’s personality. Let’s look briefly at what it means to be an introvert.
Here are the top behaviors or feelings that people who identify as an introvert most often agree with:
- You get your energy from alone time
- You prefer small groups of people to large crowds
- You dislike small talk and much prefer deep conversation
- You focus more on internal thoughts and feeling rather than seeking out external stimulation
- You are hyper-focused on your goals
It is important to remember most people are not purely introverts or purely extrovert. The majority of the population sits somewhere on a sliding scale between introversion and extroversion. Somewhere smack dab in the middle on the scale of introverts and extroverts are ambiverts. If you are interested in learning more about where you land on this scale, here is a great resource to help you find out more.
Do many of the behaviors listed above sound like the opposite of how to make it in the business world? At first glance, maybe. But, These personality traits are not handicaps, they are attributes. You just have to know how to use them to your best advantage in a business setting. (we’ll list some of the biggest ways in a bit)
Of course, there will be times when we have to step outside of our introverted comfort zones in our business lives (and also our personal and work lives – hello conferences and hi-octane mom groups #pleaseno).
Here are some classic examples of activities we might think of when we think of being an extroverted entrepreneur and mingling in the business world.
These are the activities that would drain an introvert and need to be followed by a refueling activity.
- Engaging in lots of small talk in a crowded room (dear God, no.)
- Selling themselves and their businesses with ease, again, possibly in a crowded room, and to people they just meant (I am sweating just typing this)
- Being excellent motivators of others and often enjoying being in charge of a team (I really only want to be in charge of myself)
- Working well with others and enjoying group work (I mean I can…but please be nice and don’t make me do group work)
Do these activities seem very unappealing to you? Me too (if you couldn’t tell from my parenthesizes commentary)
It’s ok, we can do this.
HOW? We simply have to make sure we schedule in “refueling” time after these “draining” activities when engaging in them is a necessity. Making this step a priority is the key to success as an introverted entrepreneur.
Now, let’s translate this into our entrepreneur lives. Here is a brief example of how to follow up a draining activity with an energizing one:
Let’s say you have to participate in a conference and talk, in front of people, about what you do and what your business is all about. You have already tried to rationalize that you don’t need to attend this conference, but the facts are undeniable: if you do this you will greatly increase your brand awareness and reach to future customers. So, now that you have the date for the conference, choose a date for your “refueling” activity. Put this in your calendar with as much commitment as you do the conference.
In this situation, where you are going to be using energy taking to a large group of people and expelling a lot of energy to talk about yourself, schedule time to be alone with your thoughts and make a plan to let your mind wander and be creative with your own ideas. This will let you refuel both socially and mentally.
See how I did that? Choose activities that refuel the specific area that you drained.
Here are a few activities that refuel or energize introverts. Introverts get their energy from:
- Getting deep into a creative project or hobby
- Alone time or companioned, comfortable silence
- Time to think and gather thoughts- especially after an intense sharing of ideas.
- Time to check in on our goals and make sure they are aligned with our greater life purpose
- Simplicity in daily life and routines
Now, Let’s translate these introvert energizers into behaviors or actions that help grow businesses and brands:
- Networking in small groups. Utilizing your gifts of eloquent and mindful written communication to communicate ideas for your brand and business.
- Make Intimate connections and write in-depth topics
- Have the ability to go from the creation of an idea or concept to intensive research to mind mapping and planning the step-by-step of a project quickly
- Can stick to your process when trying to achieve a goal due to your ability to be hyper-focused.
They say that extroverts run the world. I disagree. I don’t think extroverts solely run the show-they are just more visible while doing the most commonly thought of business activities, such as public speaking, mingling at many, many functions, taking phone calls, and making meetings.
I believe, like almost everything else in life, it’s a balance of introverted and extroverted qualities that make for the most successful outcomes.