As an entrepreneur, it’s a given that you want to be successful. You want to create a positive difference in the lives of other people by pursuing something you’re passionate about. This can be in any field – in services like graphic design, digital marketing, or legal advice, or in retail products related to food, fashion, or office equipment. And just as there’s practically no limit to the markets an aspiring entrepreneur can venture into, there’s also no one set way you need to follow in order to be successful.
The common notion is that an entrepreneur needs to be sociable for his business to have a strong branding, and in a way that makes sense. After all, when trying to establish a business, particularly in the beginning and early phases, a budding business owner needs to wear many hats and juggle several responsibilities at the same time. If you don’t have enough funds or if you need additional investments, you may need to pitch your idea to potential investors. You’ll have to do the hiring and training of new staff. And of course, you’ll need to formulate the marketing strategies of your company.
The question to ponder now is: if you’re not naturally sociable, will it be considerably harder for you to succeed as an entrepreneur? And the answer to that in a nutshell is: no, it doesn’t have to be. Instead of going against what comes natural to you, you just need to learn how to use it in your favor. Here are some tactical tips to help you cope if you’re an introvert.
- Schedule regular breaks.
The lack of proper time off is a common problem for the majority – if not almost all – of entrepreneurs, whether or not they’re introverted. Being chronically busy is the norm, after all, when there are just so many things to do that it seems 24 hours is not enough to get everything done. Are you waiting for the ‘right’ time to finally take a much needed break? Don’t. If you do, you’ll most likely end up waiting indefinitely. It’s completely understandable that you want to cross off items on your list, finish pending projects, or get started on some new ideas. But if you don’t give yourself permission to rewind and recharge every now and then, you’ll only be less productive – and will eventually burn out.
Your definition of break will largely depend on your personality and preferences. But no matter what you decide on doing, make sure it refreshes you and allows you to really relax. For example, you can take a half-hour coffee break to walk around the neighborhood in the middle of a busy day. You can also schedule long weekends or take advantage of public holidays.
- Build and nurture relationships.
You can’t establish a successful business only on your own efforts – yes, even if you’re a solopreneur. At some point, you’ll really need to go out there and collaborate with other people. This may be quite tiresome particularly if you don’t relish the idea of meeting new people, but there’s just no way around it. You’ll have to network, and you’ll have to do it quite consistently. So rather than seeing it as something you need to do, find ways that will get you more interested in it. For instance, be deliberate about signing up for events. Just because there’s an event in your city doesn’t have to mean you obliged to be there.
Choose those that are really interesting for you, and they don’t have to be all about work, either. Perhaps you’re interested in yoga, or cooking, or gardening. The point is to mingle with other people and to be intentional about building – and nurturing – genuine relationships with them. Make an effort to keep in touch after the event, even if it’s just for casual brunch on a weekday. You never know who you’ll meet.
- Take advantage of your listening skills.
As an introvert, listening comes off as practically second nature to you. So why not take full advantage of it? The ability to listen more than you talk is a very valuable skill, one that will serve you well as an entrepreneur. When you take the time to consider it, listening can be applied to just about every aspect of building your business.
During the hiring process, you need to listen to the applicants before deciding which ones you’ll take on. When you already have a team, you’ll need to listen to your employees when you’re brainstorming ideas or discussing possible solutions to problems. Every time you launch a new product or service, you’ll need to listen to your customers’ feedback. And as you grow your business, you’ll need to listen to your competitors and discern what they’re doing differently or better than you – so you can improve.
- Learn to delegate some tasks.
While you have to do everything in the beginning, it doesn’t always have to be that way. You’ll eventually need to learn to let go and let other members of your team handle tasks you simply don’t have time for, are not good at, or not inclined to. Because you’re an introvert, it will be to your best advantage to hire people who are extroverts. Outsource projects that match their personality and suit their skill set, like meeting with potential clients or doing customer support. That kind of collaboration complements your business well.
As Bill Gates put it, “tap into both sets of skills in order to have a company that thrives both in deep thinking and building teams and going out into the world to sell those ideas.”
Being an introvert doesn’t have to hold you back, and it’s certainly not an excuse not to succeed in business. You can be naturally shy and reserved – and still be a successful entrepreneur. You just have to know how to utilize the skills you already have.
What tips do you have for introverted entrepreneurs? Share with us in the comments.