There is a common misconception that only extroverts can succeed in business. In other words, entrepreneurs are aggressive, outgoing risk-takers who take no prisoners. Wrong. This stereotype is flawed because introverts are not necessarily quiet or shy. What makes them different is that they tend to be more introspective and gain energy from their alone time. According to Dr. Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength, “It’s kind of like a battery they recharge,” she says. “And then they can go out into the world and connect really beautifully with people.”
In contrast, extroverts are energized by socializing and solving problems through discussion. These personality dimensions are also typically not all or nothing characteristics. They exist on a spectrum which means that most people fall somewhere in the middle.
You don’t have to be an extrovert to succeed as an entrepreneur. That’s because business success is about making smart decisions and solving problems. Just ask Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett, who are all self-proclaimed introverts. Here are some additional reasons why introverts make successful business owners:
Introverts are creative thinkers
There is a link between introversion and creativity. If you look at some of the world’s preeminent inventors, writers, and entrepreneurs, most of them are introverts. That’s because introverts enjoy expressing themselves creatively through their work. For example, in his memoir, iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon, Steve Wozniak writes, “Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me—they’re shy, and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee.”
Introverts are passionate about ideas
Introverts don’t necessarily focus on gaining power or being the center of attention. According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet Power, “By their nature, introverts tend to get passionate about one, two or three things in their life… 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.” As entrepreneurs, they focus on the good of the company rather than personal glory.
MORE FOR YOU
Introverts are great listeners
In general, introverts are great at listening to and empathizing with people. This trait is especially valuable when dealing with clients and employees when listening and asking the right questions is essential. Introverts don’t speak unless they have something worthwhile to say and remain calm amid chaos. Taking a step back to observe and analyze a situation is their strong suit. Along with being great listeners, introverted entrepreneurs are always looking for the best solutions. That means they can put their egos aside and consider other people’s ideas when making a decision.
Introverts think before they act
While extroverts tend to be surrounded by people, introverts enjoy their alone time. Being alone gives them time to calmly process and analyze problems so they can plan their next move. The ability to appreciate moments of solitude is also helpful during the first few years of entrepreneurship, involving long stretches of working solo.
Introverts make better bosses
Although extroversion is associated with leadership, extroverts don’t necessarily make the best bosses. Groundbreaking research conducted by Wharton professor Adam Grant revealed that introverted leaders delivered better results when handling proactive workers than extroverts. Because they are not looking for attention, introverted managers let their proactive employees take the spotlight. While extroverts can get sidetracked seeking validation, introverts do anything possible to support their team and make top performers feel valued.
Make no mistake. Introverts make successful entrepreneurs. The key is to recognize that introversion is an asset, not a liability. Only then will you be able to make it your superpower.