Introverts make great business owners, too.
Playing to your strengths and making the most of online communication are two ways introverts can be successful in a world that seemingly caters to those more extroverted. — Getty Images/fizkes

Despite common misconceptions that continue to endure, introverts make great business owners. There are many famous leaders who are introverts: Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Warren Buffet all claim to be introverts. It’s estimated that introverts make up 25‒40% of the population.

It seems like the business world caters to extroverts, favoring those who thrive on networking, presenting and regular face-to-face engagement. If small talk seems exhausting rather than invigorating, fear not: There are strategies you can take to succeed in business if you’re an introvert.

[Read more: 10 Bill Gates Quotes Every Business Owner Needs to Hear]

Play to your strengths

There are many advice columnists out there who would suggest faking it. But instead of pretending to be an extrovert, understand the way your introversion can play to your advantage. Introverts possess many abilities that can set them apart in the business world. According to research, introverts display some of the following character traits.

  • You’re a good listener. Introverts tend to be good listeners who process information before weighing in with their own opinion.
  • You think before you speak. Because introverts aren’t as comfortable speaking up, they tend to choose their words wisely.
  • You’re observant. Research shows that introverts are “more likely to notice people’s body language and facial expressions.”
  • You network effectively. Networking is all about building quality relationships, and introverts tend to focus on learning about the people they meet, rather than making small talk.
  • You lead better. Introverts tend to share credit for a job well done. Your team will appreciate your leadership approach the more you highlight the strength of the whole group.

Introverts tend to process information differently, be more deliberative and care about making deeper connections. Embrace these qualities to become a highly effective leader.

[Read more: Making Your Mark: How to Build Your Personal Brand]

Despite common misconceptions that continue to endure, introverts make great business owners.

Find partners that complement your introversion

“Introversion is a collection of strengths and weaknesses, and extroversion is, too; so you’ll need a blend of both if you want your business to perform its best,” writes one expert in Entrepreneur.

Any business needs a good balance of skills, perspectives and talent. This is where bringing a business partner on board can make a big difference. If you hate giving sales pitches and prefer to do the background analysis, find someone who complements your skillset with their own inclinations. Allocate tasks based on each person’s strengths; then work together to divide and conquer. The same approach can trickle down to your team. If you have employees who thrive in customer-facing roles, let them take over the cash register while your introverted folks restock shelves or manage inventory.

Make the most of online communication

So much of our business world takes place online that it’s possible for introverts to manage customer relationships, network and nurture sales leads without having to expend too much energy. Use social media channels to do the majority of your networking. Participate in LinkedIn forums, webinars and virtual events.

You can also use social media to mitigate your introverted tendencies in scenarios where you have to network with people face-to-face. “Before an upcoming meeting or event, do some research on the people you're going to be meeting. Check out their LinkedIn profile to see what you may have in common, or send them an introductory email letting them know you're looking forward to meeting them,” suggests Inc. Magazine.

As a business owner, you can also shape the work environment to favor your introverted tendencies. Look into instituting a remote work policy. Reduce the number of meetings with your team to need-to-know status updates and use email to share other news. Some introverts find it useful to take notes on what they want to say before a meeting; this practice can organize your thoughts and help you feel more prepared.

Embrace your natural introversion to become a more thoughtful, deliberative leader. With the right tools and approach to working with others, you can succeed in growing your business to new levels.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published April 09, 2020