Entrepreneurship for introverts is one of my favorite topics. One-third to one-half of the US are introverts, but yet we're treated as though it's a disease to be cured. Growing up, introverts are told things like "come out of your shell" and "you're too quiet."
The easiest way to think of introversion vs. extroversion is to think about energy. Introverts get energy from spending time in quiet settings, often reflecting and focusing on their inner world. Extroverts get energy from other people. They focus more on the outer world.
Remember, introverted does not automatically mean shy. There are shy extroverts and outgoing introverts. AND it's all on a sliding scale. Some people are almost split 50/50.
The US generally values extroverts more than introverts, and public systems, like schools, often make introverts feel inadequate. The same often happens in an office environment. The most confident, outgoing + charismatic people tend to move up the ranks whether they do good work or not. Some companies are starting to use personality tests before hiring, which I think is a huge step in the right direction. There are positions for both extroverts and introverts in every company, and the company will work more smoothly if people are in roles that play to their strengths. Not to mention people will be more satisfied with their jobs.
Entrepreneurship can often seem like an extrovert’s game. With so much competition, it may seem like you have to connect with the most people and "yell the loudest" just to be heard. But I'm here to reassure you that you don't have to make cold calls, give speeches to millions or go to networking events 3 times a week to get clients. With up to half of the U.S. being introverted, your actions will be appreciated more than you realize.
So how can you succeed as an entrepreneur if you're introverted?
1. Know your limits to maximize your energy.
Introverts recharge by spending time alone. Make sure you're spending enough time recharging so you don't become burnt out. I work much better now that I'm in control of my environment. I found it hard to write when I was in an office setting because of the constant noise, interruptions and the amount of energy it took for me to interact with people for 8+ hours every day.
2. Customize your marketing strategy for YOU.
Blogging is a great way for introverts to show their expertise and experiences while still preserving their energy. Introverts tend to be better with written communication. I greatly prefer writing over speaking. Your marketing strategy may involve less approaching strangers and giving community talks and more guest blogging and podcasts. The internet opens up a world of possibilities for introverts (literally).
3. Lessen the pressure on yourself.
It's still important to connect with people, try new things and open yourself up to new opportunities, but if you feel less pressure, you'll be more receptive. Set a goal to attend one networking event each month, not each week.
The important point in all of these tips is to stop comparing yourself to extroverts (and everyone, for that matter). To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to understand yourself, utilize your strengths and let your true personality shine.
My quotes are all from Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I highly recommend this book!
What has helped you succeed as an introverted entrepreneur? If haven't taken the plunge into entrepreneurship yet, what questions do you have?