The Case for Introverted Entrepreneurs

An introverted entrepreneur doing a video call

When you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, you get to make your own hours and work from home.

Growing up as an introvert, I would have never imagined entrepreneurship would be for me. I thought I would be a therapist and listen to people — which is one of my superpowers as an introvert — or spend the day as a librarian while reading between the shelves. 

In 2021, that all changed when I decided I would pursue freelance writing on the side to see if there was room for a quiet soul like me.

That was two years ago and I love it! Although it’s been a challenge to come out of my wallflower ways, market myself, and get out of my limiting mindset, I wouldn’t trade solo entrepreneurship for the grind of 9-5. Plus, with all the different self-employment ideas out there, there’s something for everyone.

So why should other introverts consider entrepreneurship? Is it possible that you can have success as an introverted entrepreneur? Yes… and no. Below, I’ll get into the ins and outs of the lifestyle, and you can see if it’s for you.

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3 Pros and Cons of Pursuing Entrepreneurship for Introverts

1. You’ll have independence, like making your own hours and working from home.

Pros: Let’s be honest: We introverts prefer to work alone or in a small group. When you start a business, it will most likely be just you (at least at the beginning). You can probably work from home, make your own hours, and the list of perks goes on and on…

If you run a business as an online service provider, like doing bookkeeping or photography, then you’ll most often be communicating with clients 1:1. Even if you grow, you’ll be hiring contractors or subcontractors that, yes, you’ll have to manage… but the option to do so is yours. 

Likewise, if you are running a product-based business, you could grow a close-knit team or branch solely into e-commerce. 

Cons: If you find it hard to stay disciplined, then entrepreneurship might be a harder pill to swallow… but not impossible. Finding your routine takes consistency — trying what works (and what doesn’t) before getting into a rhythm. When you have always had deadlines and people looming over you, as in a traditional job, freelancing can feel like a relief, but also sort of a panic now that you have to depend on yourself. If you make a mistake, you have to take responsibility for it.

2. You’ll have to find your people, those who get you and your product (and those who don’t).

Pros: To grow as an entrepreneur, you always have to be asking questions: of your audience, stakeholders, and, honestly, of yourself. By doing this — and asking those deeper questions that no one else is asking — you end up finding your people. And that’s truly something you can’t create at a job.

Cons: Sometimes it feels like you aren’t heard. The online entrepreneurial world is noisy, and if you are earnest and quiet, it can be hard to carve a path for yourself. It takes a while to get the courage to put yourself out there and have people reciprocate — but keep going. You will find your people. Don’t overlook those who don’t comment on your posts, the ones in your DMs, or those who watch your Instagram, Reels or Stories. They could all be potential customers or clients, too. Remember: You only need one. (Well, depending on the product you’re selling or service you’re providing!)

3. You’ll have to continually challenge yourself and sell yourself.

Pros: You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone to see what works. (I know — this is not easy!) But entrepreneurship might just be the push you need to go to networking events, speak your opinions, and come up with out-of-the-box ways to market and sell yourself.

Cons: You are going to fail in some shape or another — and probably multiple times. That will happen at any job, but with entrepreneurship, you are often failing and really feel the effects because it’s your business. However, with failure, you learn what didn’t work well, how to make improvements, what can be done more efficiently, and what to try that you might not want to do (cough, cough, get on TikTok… really!).

Can an Introvert Be a Good Entrepreneur?

In short — absolutely!

Usually, when thinking of business owners, one might picture a stereotypical leader: bold, suave, and charismatic. However, many of our famous leaders and role models are introverts, including Bill Gates, Oprah, and several U.S. presidents, like Abraham Lincoln.

Introverts have an advantage of being not only great leaders, but also great business owners. Whether you are a solopreneur or eventually want to build an agency or store, introverts have many strengths that serve them well. Believe it or not, we introverts can be quiet and fierce at the same time. Here are a few ways:

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

1. They’re great at listening… truly listening.

The best entrepreneurs don’t talk much but they do listen. In her book, Quiet, Susan Cain mentions the greatest strength that introversion gives us: the ability to deeply listen to understand. This gift will serve you well as a freelancer or an entrepreneur, whether you are doing market research to improve your product, setting up a discovery or sales call with potential clients, or anticipating clients’ needs. 

2. They’re strategic, such as thinking things through and planning accordingly.

Yes, you have to take risks and you might be uncomfortable, but one thing we introverts are known for is being cautious. We are experts at thinking things through, weighing the pros and cons so we come up with the best decisions possible.

Remember: You have the perfect balance between taking a risk and connecting it to the bigger picture, which is your audience. Everything has to have a purpose, aside from looking aesthetically pleasing or being trendy. You have to tap into a specific type of audience, your people, be intuitive, and plan accordingly.

3. They’re selfless and put others first, like their customers and clients.

When running a business, you get to curate a life you love, but you can’t do that if you don’t put your audience and their needs first. Business is always changing and you have to be adaptable, put your pride aside, and focus on what problems your audience has that you can solve. 

I think the common thread of introversion in entrepreneurship is that we deeply care about others and genuinely want the best for them. Yes, running a business is a great way to build a life around your schedule, but your business doesn’t run without your audience. 

Now, how exactly do you become an entrepreneur as an introvert? Keep reading…

How to Become an Entrepreneur as an Introvert

Here are some steps to get you started as an introverted entrepreneur:

  • The first part of becoming an entrepreneur is mindset. I know this may sound a bit woo-woo-ish, but hear me out. When you start a new passion or skill, you probably tell someone about it, right? Even if you don’t think you’re a photographer yet or that you still need to hone your guitar skills, you share it with others — and that is the moment that it becomes a part of your identity.
  • Keep at it. Like most things, entrepreneurship isn’t easy. You have to have a strong why: why now, why does your solution matter, why is your offer unique, and why do people need you, in particular, to help them?
  • Talk about yourself and your business as much as you can. Yes, it can be hard when we shy away from talking about ourselves, especially because introverts don’t like to be the center of attention. But, with persistence, the belief follows. The more you self-promote, the more your entrepreneurial dreams will come true and exist in the world.
  • Choose your marketing channels. It’s exhausting going to networking events and posting content on social media, so my biggest suggestion is this: Be selective about your marketing efforts. Choose one platform to commit yourself to show up on for at least three months. Whether it’s SEO blogging paired with Pinterest, LinkedIn, networking at the Chamber of Commerce, or Twitter, give yourself three months to show up consistently (this could be 1-3 times a week) at events or online. The key is to commit to showing up in whatever way conserves your energy best.
  • Use social media. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Social media is exhausting and I don’t want to put myself out there for everyone to see.” But you can think of ways to “introvertify” (to make something introvert-friendly, a word that I just made up) social media. Know that your target market is on Instagram? Set up a 9-Grid on Instagram and have 1:1 connections in the DMs. Networking as an introvert doesn’t have to be anxiety provoking. 
  • Learn sales skills. I know, I know, you don’t want to sound like a pushy car salesman, but in order to have a sustainable business, you need to sell. Selling doesn’t have to feel like you are manipulating people into buying something they don’t want. Change your mindset about selling — think about what you have to offer to your target audience and then provide the best service you can.
  • Don’t make assumptions. You may get ghosted from a dream client and not hear back from others for months. Remember not to take it personally. Your business is not for everyone (because if you speak to everyone, you are speaking to no one). And yes, I would be lying if I didn’t have people tell me that I was “too quiet” and they didn’t think I would be a great match for them. Of course it hurts, but this made way for people who did appreciate my reserved nature.
  • Keep trying — don’t give up! Don’t overthink and get yourself into a spiral of what-ifs to the point of inaction (and, yes, I know that can be easier said than done if you struggle with anxiety). Remember: Done is better than perfect. Start showing up, make mistakes, reflect, and pivot.

Entrepreneurship is a great way to make a difference, maybe not on a large scale, but for your community, or just that one person. Who knows what ripple effect your business and ideas might have for the next generations?

Most importantly, don’t let your quietness think you can’t pursue entrepreneurship. Introverts can become business owners and find success with their patience, determination, and a continuous inquisitive nature that can serve their audience well.

If you are an introverted entrepreneur struggling to be seen, sign up for my email list for actionable steps to make your brand and message be seen by the right people at the right time.

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