Talk about an oxymoron. A contradiction in terms. Entrepreneurs are usually extroverted, right?
Wrong. So wrong.
In fact, being an introvert can be an advantage when it comes to business. Just ask Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world describe themselves as introverts. According to this article in Inc. Magazine, they share an ability to utilize their introvert personalities to best advantage. The first step we can take in that same direction is to understand what it really means to be an introvert and an entrepreneur, and I have recently read a book that focuses on that very subject.
In her book, The Introvert Entrepreneur, professional coach Beth L. Buelow goes in depth into the challenges introverts face in business situations, especially when they are owners of a company. She promises to show introverted readers how to “Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms.”
While browsing in the bookstore, the title of this book caught my eye. I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my life, but it was only recently I realized I’m an introvert. A significant number of writers are introverts, so I came across many memes, blog posts and articles online about what it means to be an introvert. It was one of those “aha” moments of clarity, when I finally understood my discomfort with certain things (crowds, small talk, being the center of attention) was natural, and shared by many. So I was interested to read this book to learn how to use my introversion to advantage in business situations.
What is an Introvert?
First, Ms. Buelow answers the question of what it means to be an introvert and an entrepreneur. She discusses the perception many people have about introverts (shy, a loner) which can sometimes be limiting; and the reality that introversion is simply a way of thinking and how we use energy. She goes on to explain how to handle the aspects of business which may make introverts uncomfortable, such as networking, marketing, cold calling, public speaking, and even the fear of failure. By utilizing their natural gifts (curiosity, deep thinking, love of research), introverts can learn to conquer these challenges.
The underlying message of the book is that you can create success on your own terms, in a way that honors and respects your introverted personality. I came away with a better understanding of my skills and several ideas on how to expand my comfort level with tasks and situations I might normally avoid.
Ms. Buelow is also a certified professional coach, and her website is full of information about her book, plus entrepreneur coaching services, podcasts, a blog and even a quiz you can take to discover whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.
Knowledge Is Power
I have always had an underlying worry that I should be handling things differently in regards to my businesses, but could never define what felt “off” to me. Now I know I can be my authentic self, and still find a way to handle the challenges I face with my “day job” career and my career as an author. The knowledge is freeing and empowering. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a desire to improve their business skills, especially if they consider themselves to be an Introvert.
With self-understanding comes power. As it says on Ms. Buelow’s website, “Success is an inside job!”