Can Introverts be Successful in Business?
There are often stereotypes about what makes a good entrepreneur, that to be successful in business you must be an extroverted “people person”. Someone outgoing, who thrives in social situations and is the loudest voice in the room at networking events. After all, extroverts have more energy when it comes to dealing with people, and isn’t that what business is mostly about? Building relationships with clients, networking, responding to enquiries and so on? With these assumptions, it is only natural that you might question if introverts can be successful in business.
So, what if you are a solopreneur but you also suspect you’re somewhat introverted? Intuitively, you might believe that extroverts have a natural advantage over you when it comes to business. You might be surprised and encouraged to learn that isn’t the case.
Moreover, there are many highly successful entrepreneurs who identify themselves as introverts; Mark Zuckerberg, and Meryl Strep. Their introverted nature has not held them back from success, and it needn’t hold YOU back either.https://www.gatesnotes.com/
The strengths and traits of the typical introvert actually lend themselves well to entrepreneurship. Far from being a problem to overcome, being an introvert can be a great strength in business.
The Difference between Extroverts and Introverts
Introverts are all shy and extroverts are all confident, right? Not the case. This is a common misconception, but the reality is far more nuanced.
The terms introvert and extrovert were first coined by Carl Jung in the 1920s. According to Jung, an extrovert is energized by the outside world whereas an introvert is energized by their inner world.
Introverts recharge by spending time alone. They feel depleted by being around people for long periods, particularly large crowds. Introverts prefer to listen than speak. They favour working alone over working in a team. Introverts thrive in quieter and less stimulating environments, like smaller gatherings with close friends.
Extroverts gain energy from their social interactions with other people. Extroverts find their energy and mood are sapped by spending too much time alone so work best in a team. They recharge by being social. Extroverts crave high-stimulation environments, gaining energy from activities like meeting new people or going to parties.
It is a spectrum, with no one falling 100% at either end. If you are unsure whether you lean more towards introversion or extroversion, you might benefit from taking a personality profiling test.
“Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of All Wisdom” — Aristotle
The Benefits of Being an Introvert in Business
Both extroverts and introverts can be successful in business. The important thing is to focus on your strengths rather than only seeing limitations. Let’s consider some of the benefits of being an introvert in business:
Excel at Working Independently
The biggest advantage of owning your own business as an introvert is that you are already hardwired to work best on your own. In contrast, the extroverted solopreneur will find long periods of working independently draining.
The introvert is less likely to need feedback from others to solve problems because you are more introspective and likely to think problems through carefully to find solutions yourself.
Working alone allows introverts to focus on their work rather than finding their energies depleted by the interruptions of co-workers.
While extroverts tend to surround themselves with people, introverts enjoy their alone time. Being alone gives them time to calmly process and analyse problems so they can effectively plan their next move.
Introverts are Great Listeners
Introverts are usually great listeners because they don’t speak for the sake of it, they instead wait until they have something worthwhile to contribute. Instead of jumping into a conversation, they’re more inclined to process the other person’s words and think before responding.
This means they’re more likely to absorb what the other person is saying than to dominate the conversation with their ideas. This is invaluable in business, as the introverted business owner can build deeper relationships with clients and garner a better understanding of their needs.
Research conducted by Wharton professor Adam Grant showed that introverts “listen more carefully and show greater receptivity to suggestions” than extroverts. This dispels the myth that introverts don’t work well with others because by being great listeners, introverted entrepreneurs can consider other people’s ideas and points of view before making a decision.
Introverts Build Deep Connections
Extroverts have the advantage of being energized by networking with lots of people, but introverts are more likely to focus on connecting with fewer people on a much deeper level. This means that the connections they make tend to be more valuable for building long-term business relationships.
Effective networking is all about building quality relationships, and introverts tend to focus on learning about the people they meet, rather than making small talk. Scattergun networking, where you speak to 20 people for a few minutes each, is less effective in the long term than connecting with a select few in a meaningful way.
Thinking Before Acting
Reacting quickly and taking risks are typical extrovert traits that are often regarded as vital to business success. In reality, a more considered approach to decision-making can help identify whether the risk is worth taking in the first place.
Introverts tend to be self-reflective and think ideas through deeply before making a decision. They will weigh up the pros and cons before taking a risk. If they do make a mistake along the way, their introspective nature means they reflect on what went wrong and formulate a way to do things differently next time.
Warren Buffett attributes his success in business to his introverted trait of thinking before acting, saying: “You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd because this is not a business where you take polls. It’s a business where you think.” ~ Warren Buffett.
Research shows that “highly creative people” in both artistic and scientific fields are often introverted. The ability to think creatively is a massive asset when you own your own business, as it allows you to think outside of the box when finding solutions to problems that arise.
Susan Cain, a bestselling author on the topic of introversion, explains that most introverts are comfortable with solitude and that this is a catalyst for their creativity. Cain theorizes that “being alone allows people to access their creativity without distraction.” In contrast, an extrovert might be more likely to take the shortcut to a solution by asking others.
The ability to think creatively is undoubtedly an advantage in business. High levels of creativity help you come up with better ideas more regularly and find unique solutions to problems.
Common misconceptions can make you feel like you are at a disadvantage as an introvert in business, but there are in fact many benefits and advantages when viewed with the right mindset.
Both extroverts and introverts can achieve business success. The important thing is to focus on your strengths rather than only seeing limitations. If you lean towards introversion, embrace it. Use your traits to your advantage in business.
Though there are many benefits to being an extrovert, be true to yourself and put your introverted traits to good use.