Can introversion be an entrepreneurial advantage?

I am an extroverted introvert. I find peace in solitude and this is one of the defining characteristics of my personality. However, at a young age I came to the realisation that being an introvert wasn’t going to make it easy for me to be successful in life.

To be successful in life, I would have to force myself to develop some extrovert characteristics.

Developing extrovert characteristics doesn’t mean that I am loud and overly energetic. It means that I am able to sit back, assess a situation, and interject in a thoughtful and polite manner. The way that I have meticulously meshed extrovert characteristics into my introvert personality has given me a truly unique worldview.

It’s allowed me to watch what is happening around me and have impassioned conversations about the information that I have soaked in. Additionally, I believe that this mindset and way of navigating situations has given me a truly unique constant thirst for knowledge. I am able to meticulously evaluate each situation that I find myself in because I am on the quest for useful information. I confidently believe that being an extroverted introvert has allowed me to obtain a reasonable amount of business success from such a young age.

Introverts make great entrepreneurs

When you think of a stereotypical entrepreneur, you likely don’t think of them being an introvert. You probably think of a person who is authoritative and immensely outgoing. You probably think of somebody who is clever with words and has a powerful personality.

gettyimages-175138644.jpg

Yet, now people in the business world are starting to notice that the very best entrepreneurs aren’t the persona described above.

The best entrepreneurs are very often are introverts. Introverts make great entrepreneurs because they typically have a unique ability to hyper focus for long periods of time, can balance listening with critical thinking, and have an aptitude for unobtrusively empowering others. 

The list of successful entrepreneurs and business minds who claim to be introverts is quite long and includes Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s current CEO Marissa Mayer, and Warren Buffett.

Surprisingly, Richard Branson also claims to be an introvert, but says that he found ways to overcome his shyness. He gives some great advice on overcoming being too introverted: "If you’re an introvert and find it difficult to communicate with strangers, then you have to practice, practice and practice – but practice being yourself. When you’re first starting out, no one expects you to be a commanding leader or a world-class orator. You simply need to convey a sense of passion for what you’re doing, and they’ll be hooked."

Richard Branson laptop

Richard Branson laptop

While I strongly believe that being introverted makes you a better entrepreneur, you need to avoid being too much of an introvert. You need to find the perfect balance of introvert and extrovert. By remaining an introvert in a planned way, but also adopting some extrovert characteristics, you can build a company in a very focused way.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, said something that resonates deeply with me when I think about building a company. She said that introverts are not interested in success or leadership for person glory. They are interested in creating something, not themselves.

Read more: Three rules for connecting with your customers

Perhaps, the biggest advantage that being an introvert has had on me as an entrepreneur is making it so that I don’t seek or need external confirmation. I don’t demand approval from others of what I’m doing and I often rely on my gut to make decisions. I don’t want somebody to tell me if my idea is worth pursuing. I would rather test out an idea that I intensely believe in and fail. This is important because if I take my gut feeling and test out the craziest and riskiest of ideas, I am more likely to create something big and impactful.

I personally don’t have an interest in being successful for financial or leadership reasons. I want to be successful because I want to have an impact doing things that I am passionate about. If I’m lucky enough to create a company that makes me a fortune, I won’t be going out and buying a fleet of fancy cars. I will take that wealth and invest it straight back into my other ideas (and the ideas of others) and find ways to have a lasting impact on humanity.

The idea of having a lasting impact on humanity directs us towards that thought process of many introvert entrepreneurs. Us introvert entrepreneurs embrace solitude to think about how our actions will impact others. We are able to think through big questions and come up with more creative solutions to problems than extroverts.

My focus is on having an impact on everybody – it’s what I’m laser focused on it. I am beyond confident that being an introvert will allow me to find enormous success and affect all.

If you’re also an extroverted introvert, embrace it. It’s your advantage and learning how to balance introvert with extrovert will guide you down the right path.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

Comment

Our Companies

Quick Links