Work and Wellbeing · 30 November 2021

Why You Can Be A Successful Business Owner As An Introvert

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

 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Jo discovered she was an introvert when she completed a Myers Briggs questionnaire in 1989. She’d always known that she was different from a lot of her peers, friends and family and now she knew why; she wasn’t weird, she was wired differently. Whilst is knowledge enhanced her self-awareness, it didn’t give her the tools to manage being an introvert in a world that is largely biased towards extraverts. Over more than 3 decades working as a trainer and consultant with thousands of international clients, Joanna saw daily just how problematic this bias can be within organisations: undermining employee engagement, retention and productivity as well as impairing the physical and mental health and well-being of employees. Thus began a mission: to champion the cause of introverts and promote positive action to address the ‘extraversion bias’. A mission that recently took her to the TEDx stage. Jo founded Flourishing Introverts to shift this extraversion bias in business by using a simple but robust approach, and to enable individuals to recognise their natural strengths so they can fulfil their potential without pretending to be something they are not. This starts with enabling introverts to identify and own their strengths, something Joanna does in her group coaching programmes and 1:1 with clients. With her clear purpose and unshakable passion, she works with companies and organisations to help them recognise and encourage the contribution introverts can make to their business. This is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in action.

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