Work & Wellbeing

Why You Can Be A Successful Business Owner As An Introvert

Joanna Rawbone | 30 November 2021 | 2 years ago

We all know that small businesses are not only the backbone of the UK economy, but we’ve also heard that our businesses are critical for the future! Great news.

There is a tendency to think that small businesses are best run by really outgoing people. After all there’s all that ‘peopley’ stuff like sales and marketing to take care of, right?

Actually, contrary to popular opinion, introverts are great at sales and marketing but we often have to get out of our own way first.

If you’re an introvert troubled by some of the business growth activities needed to make your business a success, read on, as you’re in exactly the right place.

You might be surprised at just how many introverts are in business for themselves. We know we have a lot to offer but the perception so many have, is that introverts are to be found hiding in a corner afraid to say boo to a goose! Oh, how wrong they are. Enable an introvert to find their true purpose, access their passion and they become unstoppable.

If you don’t believe me, just think about Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Simon Sinek, Russell Brunson, J. K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Barack Obama to name but a few. What they all have in common is that they found their passion and purpose in life, then used these to create their businesses.

There are a number of contributing factors that tipped them towards setting up in business on their own;

  1. We know that introverts are over-stimulated mentally, so fitting into a busy open-plan office environment is too overwhelming for many.
  2. Introverts are often judged as lacking ambition because they don’t push themselves forward into the limelight.
  3. Being one of the quieter ones can result in being overlooked and undervalued when it comes to promotion opportunities.
So, what are the options?

  • Bend yourself out of shape in order to fit in and get on in a business world biased towards extraverts? That’s what many choose to do, but pretending to be something you’re not is exhausting and can lead to introvert burn-out. And that’s before we consider the impact of incongruence and inauthenticity.
  • Stay in the shadows, quietly complying with those commonly held myths? In the short term, this might be a better choice for mental health and wellbeing, but it results in far too much talent left unrealised.
  • Leave traditional employment behind and start up a small business? That gets my vote, but as someone who left traditional employment in 1994, after 19 years as a corporate slave, I probably would say that wouldn’t I?
And I’m not alone. Just this week, we’ve been hearing about many hundreds of new businesses being set up every day in the UK with the slogan, “Start before you’re ready”. Now. I’m not here to give that sort of advice, but I do know that successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for everything to be perfect. With good reason too because that time never comes. Being able to adapt to meet current forces in what Dawna Jones calls our VUCA environment, (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) is much more important.

Advances in technology have made it so much easier for people to set up online businesses, which suits an introvert down to the ground.

So why do introverts make such good small business owners or entrepreneurs?

I’ve found that it’s down to our natural skills and talents. These include the ability to:

  • be comfortable with solo or small group working
  • work quietly without needing interaction
  • become fully immersed in tasks, the state that Csíkszentmihályi referred to as flow
  • get to the root cause of problems
  • be independent
  • research and prepare thoroughly
  • be calm and defuse dramas
  • ask meaningful questions
  • listen deeply so they understand not just respond
  • be resourceful in finding or creating solutions
 

The last three in particular, stand introverts in good stead for the marketing and sales activities that many think will be prohibitive. When it comes to sales, introverts ask the right questions and listen intently to the answers, so they can be in a position to invite people to buy rather than pushing for the hard sell.

What introverts do need is sufficient charge in their mental batteries for any activity that takes them to the edge of, or outside of, their comfort zones. Many people say nothing good happens in a comfort zone and for introverts, I have found that working at the outer edge, consistently expanding the comfort zone works better than forcing people out into full exposure.  Planning time and quiet activities that enable introverts to recharge, like thinking, reading, walking in nature or doing something creative is essential, especially if you’re going to be successful as a business owner.

 

It all starts with enabling introverted business owners to play to their strengths, to create a business they love on their terms.

So, don’t allow the common myths about introversion to persuade you that setting up and running a business is not an ideal option for you. Running a small business is a notoriously lonely occupation, but one to which introverts are ideally suited.

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