I’ve never really thought of myself as an introvert. Shy, yes. Insecure is probably a better word though. Growing up I think people would describe me as popular and to me that meant outgoing. An extrovert. But I hated being the center of attention and felt more comfortable in smaller groups.
The more I read about introverts, the more I identify with that side of me. An introvert turns inward. They enjoy thinking and exploring their thoughts and feelings. They prefer sharing a glass of wine with a close friend over a loud party with strangers. They feel energized by being alone. Yeah, that pretty much sums me up. If any other this sounds like you, you’re in good company. Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, and Ghandi were all described as introverts.
As an entrepreneur being an introvert can present a few challenges though. We’re dreamers. Sometimes we get so caught up in our thoughts that we forget to take action. I’m guilty of this. I have a million ideas swirling around in my head, but I rarely act on them. It can be overwhelming!
Running a business requires you to take action. If you don’t, someone else will. So how can you run a successful business without doing all of the things that make you feel icky and uncomfortable?
Here are 5 ways you can run a business as an introvert:
Being an introvert entrepreneur means we get to do business the way we want. We get to control how much and how often we interact with people. And there are so many positive qualities that we can use to our advantage. Introverts are good listeners which is a sign of a good boss or leader. We’re not afraid to let our employees run with an idea. This also makes us good at collaborating. We are happy to work one-on-one with people who share the same values. We can build relationships and connect on a deeper level. What an amazing asset to have as a business owner. Introverts are often good at writing too. You might want to seek out opportunities to guest post on blogs or establish yourself as an expert on your own blog. This is something I’ve been doing a lot lately. Before I became a photographer, I was a writer. I had forgotten about that part of myself though and only recently started writing again. I even created an online course for moms who want to learn how to take better pictures of their children. It was a ton of work, but so worth it! The point is to figure out your strengths and capitalize on them!
Know Your Audience
Don’t waste your energy on clients who are not the right fit. Think about the last time you had to deal with a cranky client. Maybe you needed some extra money or you weren’t sure how to say no. I’m willing to bet you cringed every time you had to communicate with that client. Trying to do your best for a client who makes you feel like crap is draining. In order to avoid wasting your time and energy on clients who are not the right fit, you need to make sure your message is clear. If your message is clear, you’ll attract your dream client. The Rising Tide Society has a great guide for finding your ideal client. Once you start attracting your dream client you’ll enjoy work more and have more energy to spend on the right kind of people.
Schedule in Quiet Time
As a photographer, I’m required to be ‘on’ during a session. Engaged, energetic, and talkative. I enjoy that part of my job. I love connecting with my clients and sharing stories, but after a session, I need time to decompress. Sometimes I’ll sit in my car for a few minutes with my eyes closed and listen to music. It helps me to recharge. Find time in your day to do the same. Take a break and read a book, meditate, or write in a journal. Even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. Quiet time is crucial to creativity. It’s in those quiet moments that you’re likely to come up with your best ideas. One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Stephen Hawking. “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” I guess that’s why so many of us creatives are introverts.
Hire an Extrovert
A virtual assistant or someone who can work side by side with you and take over the things that drain you. Whether it’s answering emails, making phone calls, customer service, marketing, etc. Outsource all of the things you hate to do. I did this during my busy season over the holidays. It saved me so much stress and anxiety. You could also hire a coach or find a business bestie. A cheerleader who is there to force you out of solitude and motivate you. Someone who ‘gets’ you and knows your strengths. Introverts are notorious for trying to do it all on our own, but everyone needs a support system. Ask for help!
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Networking is vital to any business. This has been the hardest part of owning a business for me. I know I’m supposed to put myself out there, go to networking events, connect with local businesses, or even pick up the phone and call people. All of that makes me uncomfortable. Still, it’s important to push yourself. Take baby steps. Attend one networking event a month. My first one was a Rising Tide Tuesday Together dinner where I met a lot of amazing local business women. Bring a friend who’s an extravert if it feels more comfortable. Better yet, host your own event. This was you can control the guest list!
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be loud to be successful. Delight in the quiet part of you and build a business that suits your needs.