Doing Business as an Introvert

I’ve known for a long time that I’m an introvert. When most people my age would go out drinking, I much preferred staying at home with a book or taking a long walk on my own. I realized that I had fewer friends than most people. I began to think something was wrong with me. I would hear rumours that I “hated people”. I don’t “hate people”, I hate hearing Robbie Williams’ “Rock DJ” played at 100db for the fifth time that night.

Unfortunately, when we think entrepreneurs, we think of extroverts. Out-going go-getters with a firm handshake and a bright game-show host grin. When you go into business for yourself, you are management, manufacturing, and marketing all rolled into one. If you can’t manage the marketing, the first two aren’t going to matter very much. That means you have to get out there, dial for dollars, pound that pavement, and sell, sell, sell! Some people are really good at this. They love meeting and talking to new people. It gives them energy. But what if  that’s not you? What if you are an introvert trying to run a business?

Marti Laney’s book “The Introvert Advantage” clears few things up for all the introvert entrepreneurs out there. Introversion is not about whether you like people or not. It has everything to do with your energy level. There’s a funky neurobiology aspect to that, but it basically means that unlike for extroverts, meeting a lot of people is hard work. Shake enough hands and at the end of the night you’ll feel like death warmed over. Now I’m not suggesting starting an introvert support group, or anything like that. You just have to know how manage your energy.

Introverts are better able to manage a few intense and loyal relationships over a thousand hyper-active acquaintances. They are also more detail oriented and are better able to concentrate on whatever they are interested in. This would allow you to spend more time coming up with great product or service because that intense thinking energizes you. So, you’re not going to be “working the room” with fake smiles and air kisses. You’re probably going to get really involved in one very intense discussion and spend the rest of the evening like that. That’s okay. That doesn’t represent lost sales.  Your customers may come to trust you more than your extroverted counterparts because they’ll know that you’ll be there for them 100%. So line up those lunch meetings, and follow up on those clients. You just have take your time and focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses.

One thought on “Doing Business as an Introvert

  1. Beth Buelow, ACC, The Introvert Entrepreneur

    Thanks for this post, James! You’re right, it’s usually thought that being an extrovert is a prerequisite for being an entrepreneur. As I’ve carved out my niche of working with introvert entrepreneurs, I’m finding there are a lot of us, especially in the service-based businesses. For the reasons you name, we have lots of strengths as entrepreneurs. Our natural curiosity, capacity for listening and focus on the biz (not ourselves) means we bring a lot to the table for clients and customers. Here’s the fabulous introvert entrepreneur!

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