By Alex Marshall
I’m a lifelong introvert. I’m also a small business owner and entrepreneur. Two things many people think are incompatible. All that networking, selling yourself publicly, small talk and hustling; how is any of this compatible with introvert preferences for solitude, introspection and deep connection?
However, four years of being my own boss has taught me that entrepreneurial life is far more conducive to my introverted nature, than years of in-house employment ever was.
Here are my top five tips for thriving (and surviving!) as an introvert business owner:
1. Curate your best working environment
Being an entrepreneur allows you to be in control of your own work schedule, how much you want to work, when you want to work, and how much you want to interact with people. Bliss for introverts who are more sensitive to environmental overstimulation. Take full advantage of the flexibility and freedom from distractions this way of working offers.
2. Find your support tribe
Just because you are an introvert doesn’t mean you don’t need people! Connecting with others who understand what you are experiencing, helps with motivation and confidence particularly when things don’t go to plan.
I’m a member of supportive online communities like Women Who Do, which help me feel connected and accountable on a daily basis.
I also have a group of fellow business owners and freelance friends who I organise “co-work” days with every month to ensure I actually get out of the house/office regularly!
3. Networking plays to your strengths
Large groups of people are anathema to introverts. But business is about people, so networking is a necessary evil if you want to survive. Introverts are brilliant listeners, creative thinkers and excellent at detail. This can be a real advantage when networking, as you’re more likely to ask the right questions, remember important details about people and really listen to their answers.
4. As does pitching for that matter!
Again, contrary to popular belief, introverts make excellent pitchers and public speakers. This plays to the natural strengths of careful preparation and attention to detail.
5. Know your limits
Work out how much weekly interaction is healthy for you and curate your work schedule accordingly. If you see clients one to one, work out how many sessions per day/week/month you can manage without burning out and feeling depleted. Can virtual meetings help you meet/network with more clients/prospects? How many days a week should you work from home before it eats into your motivation and confidence?
About the Author:
Alex is the founder of Spot The Gap consultancy. Spot The Gap works with clients to make their workplaces more purposeful and inclusive, through transformative employee engagement and internal communications strategies and training. Before setting up the consultancy, Alex worked as the Director of Campaigns and Engagement for Women in Sport.