The stereotypical entrepreneur talks to everyone easily, but introverts need not be discouraged. Reticence does not doom you to failure.
Social science finds at least a third, and maybe half, the population is introverted. Successful entrepreneurs who are introverts make their personalities work for them. With less interest in the spotlight than accomplishing goals, introverts are inclined to let talented employees run with their ideas. Here are five strategies for making introversion an asset.
1. Learn to work with your personality. Even if it makes your palms sweat, as an entrepreneur you need to communicate with people. That does not mean you need to do it in situations that are terminally uncomfortable. If speaking in front of a large crowd is too much, one-on-one meetings are often just enough. When you must talk to a group, prepare a script. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly. Successful introverted entrepreneurs own their introversion, know their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.
2. Discover your strengths. People tend to underestimate the introvert but the introvert surprises those who listen. Research reveals introverts are more concrete when describing things, and concrete descriptions are known to make a better impression. In comparison to extroverts, who may skim the surface, introverts study the big picture. Research shows introverts have more neuronal activity in brain regions linked to vigilance control and motor control, and they process external stimuli faster than extroverts. Introvert entrepreneurs naturally talk less and strategize more.
3. Prepare for working outside your comfort zone. Introverted entrepreneurs enjoy spending time alone but no entrepreneur can build a business completely on their own. Cultivating good social skills to connect with others is essential to hiring a team, persuading investors and selling your ideas. You can be an introvert most of the time, but there are times when even an introvert needs to be sociable.
4. Be aware of your energy. Occasionally you will need an extroverted front to accomplish a task. Make reasonable adjustments. For instance, if you must make calls during your shift, do so when you’re ready and prepared. Do things that don’t drain your energy too fast and leave the extroverted activities for times when you’re more energized.
5. Technology is never shy. The information age offers introverts a safe haven at the click of a button. As an introverted entrepreneur, you can use this to your advantage. Since introverts are good with details, creating and managing systems is a great way to interact with people without actually interacting. Let your software talk for you. If approaching someone in person is daunting, use social media. Outsourcing can grow your business and reduce how often you need to talk face-to-face.
Ultimately, technology doesn’t solve all problems and personality is not destiny. Keep a level head and build a support system. Good advice for extroverts, too.