If you believe you have to be extroverted to succeed as an entrepreneur, think again.
You’d be surprised to learn that the people behind major companies such as Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), Microsoft (Bill Gates) and Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett) are considered introverts, proving that being an introvert is no barrier to business success.
Introverts possess certain qualities that can work well in the entrepreneurship realm. Some are listed below.
What makes you introverted?
Being introverted and extroverted might not mean what you think. It’s not about being a social butterfly (extrovert) versus a wallflower (introvert). It’s more about where people get their energy from. Famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung described the difference this way:
- Extroverts draw energy from being around other people
- Introverts draw energy from being alone
If you want to know where you stand, take any of the free Myers-Briggs Type Indicators available on the internet. One of the four dimensions measured is introversion versus extroversion. You might find that your preconceived ideas about yourself are wrong!
Qualities of introverts
Introverts are really good at thinking critically and staying focused. They consider any feedback and information they receive — positive and negative — which allows them to avoid missing any potential downsides to their ideas.
Other qualities that introverts can use to their advantage:
Curiosity: In a 2013 talk, Gates described one of the perks of being introverted as to be “willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.” Introverts thrive on learning, which may spur “entrepreneurial alertness,” a concept attributed to economist Israel Kirzner that explains the ability to envision a new strategy or a potential new market, according to a Business Insider article.
Logical and focused decision-making: Introverts may develop detailed plans to keep them focused toward particular goals. Buffett, founder and CEO of global conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, is known for making well-informed decisions on investments. In a letter to investors in 2004, he wrote that he and his business partner, Charlie Munger, wanted “to give our owners the financial information and commentary we would wish to receive if our roles were reversed.” In the letter, investors would find detailed performance explanations and historical perspective.
Relationship building: Introverts don’t have to be gregarious. They know how to develop a strong, core group of confidants and allies as partners, employees and investors. Although Zuckerberg is known for being reserved, he has a strong bond with his employees. “What I found compelling was Mark’s commitment to spending a lot of time with us,” said Brendan Iribe, CEO of Facebook’s virtual reality subsidiary Oculus, in a 2014 Fast Company article.
Susan Cain, founder of the Quiet Leadership Institute, told the Wall Street Journal in a 2015 article that introverts “create and lead companies from a very focused place.”
“By their nature, introverts tend to get passionate about one, two or three things in their life,” Cain said. “And in the service of their passion for an idea they will go out and build alliances and networks and acquire expertise and do whatever it takes to make it happen.”
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