Do Introverts or Extroverts Make Better Entrepreneurs?
You can divide almost every person into one of two categories: introverted or extroverted. Here's how the distinction translates to business.
We have over 7.7 billion people on the face of this planet, and no two individuals are exactly the same. Physically, emotionally and intelligently, we are each a singular creation with differences that impact how we look, think, feel and act. And just as people can be male or female and short or tall, they can be introverted or extroverted.
While one isn't necessarily better than the other, it's helpful to understand how each impacts an entrepreneur's successes and failures.
What does it mean to be called an introvert?
Most people are acutely aware of whether or not they're introverts. If you're an introvert, you'd likely rather spend a Friday night relaxing in your apartment by yourself (or with a couple of good friends) than attend a big party or event with a bunch of people. In addition, you sit on information and process it for a long time before speaking. You have good thoughts and ideas, but tend to listen to others first and speak second.
It's extremely important to understand differences between introversion and shyness. While introverts can be shy (and vice versa) these are two distinct ideas.
Pros and cons of being an introverted entrepreneur
Most of the successful entrepreneurs across the world today are introverts. That's because introversion yields a number of distinct benefits. Introverts typically listen more than they speak, which is great for gathering feedback and understanding customers. Moreover, entrepreneurs on the introverted side of the personality spectrum tend to be more independent and comfortable working alone, which is usually necessary in the early days of building a business.
But there are also plenty of negatives associated with introversion in entrepreneurial pursuits. Introverts typically have much smaller personal and professional networks, which limit opportunities. Additionally, introverts have a harder time putting themselves out there, which is an absolute necessity when launching a business and growing a brand.
How to make the most of your introverted personality
Want to thrive as an introverted entrepreneur? It's important that you work with your personality to harness your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.
Choose the right type of business
Begin by selecting the right kind of business or industry to get into. Don't start a business that requires you to go out and speak to big audiences on a daily basis. You want a business venture that allows you to be creative and independent.
Make complementary hires
You can only go so far as an introvert on your own. That's why it's important to make complementary hires to offset your own weaknesses. In all likelihood, this means you'll hire extroverts and people with big personalities and people skills.
What does it mean to be called an extrovert?
On the other end of the personality spectrum, you have extroverts. Extroverts thrive off other people's energies and love person-to-person interactions. If you're an extrovert, you likely genuinely enjoy spending time with others and look forward to the social engagements on your calendar. You're also fine with spontaneous meetups and random plans that materialize out of thin air; they provide meaning and energy that you need in order to thrive. And you almost always prefer to work on a team, versus alone. This gives you a chance to bounce around ideas.
It's important to note that extroversion and confidence don't always go hand in hand. Extroverts often are more confident than introverts, but it's sometimes just a façade. Plenty of extroverts still have low self-esteem. This can be worked through in a healthy manner.
Pros and cons of being an extroverted entrepreneur
Extroverts bring a lot of strengths to the table as entrepreneurs. They often have a magnetic charisma, and investors, clients and business partners gravitate towards people they like and trust. Extroverts have an easy time building these relationships, which ultimately benefit the bottom line. By and large, extroverts find it easier to experience positive emotions. This can be helpful when a startup is experiencing the bumps and bruises of early-stage growth.
Extroverts also face some unique challenges with entrepreneurship. Extroverts can be easily distracted, like puppies: They see something they like and they go after it. Then before they get there, they're intrigued by something totally different, so they get up and chase after that thing. This creates a pendulum effect, where nothing gets done efficiently or effectively. Shallow insights are another potential pitfall. Because extroverts tend to speak and do more than they listen, they have a harder time understanding who their audience is.
How to make the most of your extroverted personality
If you're an extroverted entrepreneur, you have to be strategic with how you manage your personality.
Wait before saying "Yes"
Even though your natural inclination is to go, go, go, it's imperative that you don't immediately commit to every opportunity that comes across your desk.
The best thing you can do is wait before saying yes.
Hire people who are analytical
Because you're a big-picture kind of person who likes to be hands-on and interactive, you probably don't pay enough attention to the details. This is why it's helpful to hire people who are more analytical and detail-oriented.
Let other people lead meetings
As a business owner or startup founder, you're the one calling the shots — and you should be! But it's not always healthy for an extrovert to constantly talk, preach and lead without stepping back and observing what's happening around him or her. One way you can be more observant is to let other people lead important meetings.
No matter how hard you may try, an introvert can't force himself or herself to become an extrovert. Likewise, an extrovert will find it nearly impossible to transform into an introvert. You have no say over the structure of your brain and how you perceive the world around you. The key is to play the hand you're dealt so that you can thrive as an entrepreneur in an unpredictable environment.
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