running a business as an introvert.
When many people think of entrepreneurs or people trying to build a new business, they often think of someone who is always talking to new people, gregarious, and even a master salesperson. I'll admit: growing up, I never envisioned myself starting my own business or feeling comfortable talking about what I do since I consider myself an introvert. But guess what? That shouldn't stop you!
Being introverted means you draw your energy from alone time rather than from time with other people. This doesn't mean you hate people or that you prefer a life in complete solitude. It just means that after a period of time with people, you recharge with time by yourself, not having to talk to anyone.
Part of the reason why running my own business appealed to me was that I would have the ability to work on my own and focus without the interruptions and constant interaction with coworkers. The idea of talking with people on my own terms rather than whenever they showed up sounded amazing! It's really transformed the way I work. (And now my extroverted friends are screaming, "A day without people?? How awful!")
While my nature is great for getting work done, it presents its challenges when talking with clients or participating in meetings. Another introverted trait is that we feel best when we've had time to think through things before speaking, rather than offering words on the fly. We also tend to dislike small talk (we'd rather have deep, meaningful conversations, or I'd rather ride an elevator in silence rather than chat about nothing the whole way up!).
Both of these things can be important components of business - offering up ideas during a conversation, and getting to know a client - so how is one to handle this? I've got a few tips to help you out:
Write out any elevator speeches or summaries ahead of time. Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than being on the spot, so I plan ahead by composing some "stump speeches" if you will about myself. It's a totally normal question to ask at the start of a call, "So, what do you do?" or "What is your business about?" Rather than stumble to string together a cohesive story every time someone asks, take a little time to write out an answer that is brief and clear. Then, you'll have that story in your head every time and don't have to worry about speaking on the spot!
Take notes before a meeting or phone call. If you know what the topics of your meeting or call are going to be before it starts, take some time to write out some notes about the points you'd like to make or the questions you anticipate having. This can be in sentences, bullet points, or just fragments. It will help you visualize the things you'd like to say and in what way before you actually have to say them. This is especially helpful in difficult phone calls or when you need to explain something. You will sound confident and clear to your listener and feel less anxiety about what you'll be saying while having the conversation. And, I always make sure that my clients schedule phone calls ahead of time rather than call me unannounced. This gives me time to feel prepared and organized so that it can be efficient and productive. Plus, then there is less time for rambling small talk while we figure out the point of the call!
Don't be afraid to say "no." Had a long day, and your friend texts you to meet for happy hour? If you are out of energy, don't force yourself to get out! You will get depleted so fast if you are constantly meeting and spending time with people and don't take your time to recharge. Set a date for the future instead. Or, if while on a phone call a client asks for answers immediately or wants a project done ASAP, learn to be confident in saying, "Actually, I need time to process this to give you the best outcome. Here is when you can expect it." Don't give in to someone else's timeline when you know what it takes for you to deliver your best work.
Don't be afraid to say "yes." While it's vital to give yourself time to recharge by yourself, it's also important not to become a hermit. This is so easy when you are a solopreneur, especially if you work from home! Pick a day or a few days where you'll meet someone for coffee in your field or go to a conference. It is all about the connections you make, and while making them online is fantastic, nothing beats connecting in person once in awhile. Just make sure you go home and recharge afterwards ; )
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How do you think that has affected how you do business?
If you want to read more, I can't recommend these books enough: