Introversion + the successful entrepreneur
Introverts — grab a cuppa and pull up a seat.
What do you think of when you picture an entrepreneur? Extroverted? Or perhaps a networking guru?
Short answer: unfortunately, yes.
Although the ability to quickly develop interpersonal relationships, network/ “work” through a room, or speak to a large crowd may seems like non-negotiable skills to grow and build a successful business/ brand, this doesn’t necessarily paint the whole picture and I’d have you reconsider.
No magic solution, but a simple one?
It’s crucial to acknowledge right away that there isn’t a magic solution that will make you instantly rich or a successful entrepreneur.
However, there is a fairly simple one that can lead you to down the path of successes; it’s based on a formulaic combination of entrepreneurial talents that can help distinguish successful businessmen/women from others. And one of these traits you’ll be surprised to find is introversion.
Yes, personal entrepreneurship characteristics might seem to play a big part in business success, but the most important aspect to becoming a successful entrepreneur is learning what your superpower is and leaning into that.
Let’s find out why being an introvert is your superpower
1. Introverts Tend to Think Creatively
Creativity and introversion go hand in hand.
Many of the world’s greatest authors, entrepreneurs, and innovators are introverts. This is because introverts relish the opportunity to exhibit creativity through their vocations. Many engineers and inventors are quiet and inward-looking. They almost resemble artists and, when they have creative control over a product’s (or business’) design (unlike when a committee or other group is developing it), these individuals shine.
2. Introverts Have a Passion for Ideas
Often, introverts are quite passionate about their thoughts and coming up with incredibly unique ideas.
To be able to do whatever is necessary to make it happen, they create teams and gather knowledge. It’s crucial for entrepreneurs establishing new enterprises to have the capacity to concentrate intensely on their most important passion projects and learn how to delegate the work they’re not necessarily good at.
Introverts are in tune with their strengths and weaknesses and have a keen ability to find the right people together to form a strong team.
3. Introverts Are Great Leaders
You do not have to be a talkative and socially active person to be a successful leader.
Your leadership abilities can be observed even if you are not the focus of attention throughout every conversation.
If you’re an introvert, your capacity for deliberation before action is the literal secret sauce that helps you succeed in a leadership position. To this attribute I’d argue that introverts are as good as, if not better than, extroverts.
Circling back to the point above, the ability to play to your unique talents is part of being a great leader.
Who are the few successful introverted leaders?
First off, let’s clarify that it’s not a few. It’s a lot. And this was a hard list to keep short & sweet!
1. Larry Page
Together with Sergey Brin, Larry Page co-founded Google, and you probably know how that tale turned out. After leaving his role as CEO of Google in 2001, Page took it back in 2011 and held it until 2015.
People at the time Page was known for his extreme reserve and, as you might imagine, “geeky” nature. However, Page’s calm, thoughtful temperament enabled him to develop a ground-breaking new product and a distinctive brand that is still in existence today.
2. Bill Gates
You might know Bill Gates as the man who started Microsoft and is now worth billions of dollars. Initially an isolated introvert, Gates learned to use the people around him to balance out his strengths and limitations.
According to him, “If you’re clever, you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area. Then, if you come up with something . . . you’d better learn what extroverts do, you’d better hire some extroverts and tap into both sets of skills.”
3. Warren Buffet
Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world and a well-known investor, is the founder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
He is renowned for his intellectual tenacity, intelligence, and critical thinking. Despite being an introvert by nature, he manages to run a prestigious company. His communication style reflects that intellectual coolness, and he uses his introverted characteristics to his advantage as an entrepreneur.
4. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook, was once described as “shy and introverted, and he frequently does not seem very friendly to those who don’t know him. Despite how counterintuitive it may seem; Zuckerberg has been able to develop charisma through his introversion. His ability to surround himself with team leaders who play to his strengths has allowed him to transform his company into the business it is today.
5. Elon Musk
The idea that a person who has been dubbed the “next Steve Jobs” was once a quiet, shy engineer may seem weird, but Musk has been candid about it.
At some point, Musk realized the influence he might have through interaction with others, and he adjusted his reserve to allow his ideas to flourish in a setting that often values extroverts.
Advice For Introverts Who Aspire to Become a Successful Entrepreneur
1. Embrace Your Introversion
This is your superpower!
Too many introverts feel guilty for being too quiet, too sensitive, or too restrained. Introverts and extroverts process stimuli in very different ways biologically, and this is no reason to feel badly about.
Focus on the advantages of being an introvert rather than the disadvantages. For instance, because you tend to be quiet, you’re probably acutely aware of your surroundings, especially your clients’ and coworkers’ demands. Increase relationships, streamline procedures, and create new goods and services using that sense of awareness.
2. Understand How to Manage Your Energy
Even when you’re with your closest friends, being around others can be exhausting for introverts. So, if you’re starting to feel anxious or overburdened, it might be time for a break. Again, no reason to feel bad; It’s just a matter of becoming more self-aware so that you can show up as the best version of yourself.
3. Manage Your Inner Critic
In general, introverts are exceedingly self-aware and observant. An extrovert may be able to laugh off a mistake like spilling a drink at a networking event, but an introvert may use this as fire for their inner critic. As a result, the introvert may constantly tell herself that she is uncoordinated and clumsy and add this most recent incident to a long list of earlier times when she was clumsy.
Take mental chatter audits often and be kind to yourself!
Quick way to check yourself is to ask: would I say this or these types of things to the people I love the most? If that’s a hard no, then you should probably quit saying it to yourself.
Other was to navigate these thoughts would be by affirmations, counselling, or coaching.
4. Create an Introvert-Friendly Business.
Social media and email marketing can be excellent tools for introverts because they offer us time to consider our words before we speak.
For introverts, building a business around one-on-one interactions also works incredibly well.
5. Find A Way to Be Heard
It can be easier to feel small and stay unheard. It’s surely less scary!
Meetings can be difficult for introverts since extroverts prefer to talk. It can seem incredibly awkward to interrupt someone who is talking and offer your opinions.
You might need to practice saying, “I have a couple of thoughts I’d like to share.” with confidence. I can guarantee that when you show up, you can count on the majority of the group being excited to hear you speak.
Alternatively, if you’re afraid you’ll change your mind about speaking or you don’t like being interrupted, request to be added to the agenda in advance. Make a list of the things you wish to mention. Practice outlining your message.
6. Be Patient with Extroverts
Recognize that extroverted clients or coworkers think differently (there are differences in their brains). Meeting new people and being active energizes them so don’t take this as them trying to irritate you. Find a compromise that suits both personalities by listening to what they have to say and by staying true to how you feel most comfortable speaking or spending time.
All this to say that there are plenty of seats at the table, and anyone that’s been sitting on the sidelines thinking “Ah, I’m just not the business ‘type’” because they’re not sure they have it. That’s just not true. Some of the wealthiest and most successful entrepreneurs are introverts. I believe extroverts could truly take a page of out their books to learn more.
Personally, I’d consider myself and ambivert (a little of both). I do thrive on the energy from others (good or bad), I love speaking with new people and making new connections. However, by the end of the day or some days in general, I do have times when I do prefer to keep to myself.
What do you feel you are? Introvert? Extrovert? A little bit of both?
Not sure? Take a quiz!