He took me aside during a break and said, “You’re being too quiet. I want to hear you speak up more.”
I wanted to punch him in his dumb face.
We were at a work conference; the kind that’s filled with interactive powerpoint presentations and icebreaking “games” and team-building exercises and other vomit-inducing activities.
After he said that to me, I went to the bathroom and cried in frustration. Because by nature, I’m a listener. I need to absorb new information and process it internally before I can formulate an opinion or add useful dialogue. And mandatory conferences that force me into contrived social situations are not the most efficient way for me to learn, build relationships, or contribute to conversations.
If you’re feeling me on this one, I’m betting you’re an introvert. And it can be borderline discouraging to be an introverted business owner because of the preconceived notions our society puts on us about what it means to be an entrepreneur.
Here are some of the reasons I’ve seen floating around about why it’s hard for introverts to be in business:
1. We don’t want to be available to clients 24/7
(because we need time to recharge)
2. We hate talking on the phone
(because TALKING ON THE PHONE IS INHERENTLY TERRIBLE THIS IS AN OBJECTIVE TRUTH OF LIFE)
3. We suck at networking
(because we hate small talk)
4. We’re bad at marketing
(because interacting with other humans is draining)
5. We aren’t great at selling
(because we have a hard time verbally communicating the brilliant ideas in our head)
At first glance, it does seem like these perceived weaknesses are going to bring us down when it comes to having a “successful” business. (I put successful in quotes because there is no single definition of success – we get to define it ourselves! Cool, right??)
When you think of what it means to be an entrepreneur, you’re probably flooded with society’s stereotypes. Someone who is charismatic, a smooth talker, a people person, born to hustle, has a consistent flow of ideas, and is in a go-go-go mindset LITERALLY ALL THE TIME.
First of all, society is usually wrong about everything, so feel free to toss any societal norm out to the curb from now ’til forever. Secondly, let’s break this down a little bit.
CHARISMA: Um, charisma doesn’t have to mean being the center of attention at a party. It can mean making people feel heard and important in a one-on-one conversation. It can mean being genuinely excited about what you’re working on. It can mean being an expert in your industry and openly sharing your knowledge to help people.
SMOOTH TALKER: A smooth talker I am not. Ideas always sound great in my head, but when I try to say them out loud I just get sweaty and weird. But guess what? It’s 2019. There are a million and two ways to share ideas. It’s why I blog instead of going Live on Facebook; it’s why I tell clients to email me instead of call me. I have valuable information to share, but talking is not the best way for me to share it. Writing is. What’s the easiest way for you to share your ideas?
A PEOPLE PERSON: Introverts don’t hate other people, and we aren’t shy. We’re just very selective about the people we use our social energy on, because we only have so much social energy in our reserves. But if your business is about people – AKA, you serve clients or customers with your service or product – then there’s a pretty good chance you’re a people person. Otherwise you’d be in an industry where you don’t have to interact with people at all.
BORN TO HUSTLE: “Good hustle!” is something we yell at high school sports games. But you know how long high school sports games last? About few hours. Any longer and we’d be witnessing total burnount. Owning a business isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon – take your time.
A CONSISTENT FLOW OF IDEAS: Pretty sure you have this gift too, because that’s how businesses work. We always need to be adapting and evolving because the world is always changing. If you don’t have a consistent flow of ideas, it’s probably an issue of your message or brand not lining up with who you are as a person, and not that you’re not an entrepreneur. And if that’s the case, let’s chat.
A GO-GO-GO MINDSET ALL THE TIME: Well this one is just silly. Even high-energy extroverts need to rest once in a while, in whatever way that means to them. Unless they are robots or using cocaine, and you can’t compete with that anyway.
You see where I’m going with this? Just because you don’t work in the stereotypical American Entrepreneur way, that doesn’t mean we’re not really good at this shit.
You don’t need to be an extrovert to be successful in your business, you just need to set boundaries and figure out what works for you.
So maybe you don’t go to a networking event (EW), so instead you decide to be really active and helpful in an online business group instead.
Maybe you don’t want to go to an in-person workshop (EW), so instead you buy a new business book and spend the afternoon with it.
Maybe you don’t want to take inquiries by phone (EW), so instead you make it really obvious that clients can contact you by instant message or email.
Maybe you don’t want to fill your client sessions with small talk (EW), so instead you come up with some deeper, open-ended questions that ignite real conversations.
If you feel being an introvert is holding you back from being successful, let’s brainstorm some ideas about how you can forge your own path and set your own boundaries! Click here.