I’ll never forget the many days in school when I had to walk up to the chalkboard in front of the entire class and successfully “complete” and answer THE problem. I hated those days. Then came graduate school and those dreaded group activities; I always wondered why I just couldn’t do the project myself. And then as an adult, I was forced to work in an open office plan where I had absolutely no alone or quiet time to complete assignments and projects with excellence. My best was far from what could have really been my best work.
Too often, I was forced to be an extrovert.
And I failed to realize what I could accomplish and what I was capable of doing, until later in life. It wasn’t until I became an Entrepreneur that I realized how important my introversion was to the success of my business, my calling, my ministry. How important it was to know who I was and what it was that made me tick.
Can introverts succeed as Entrepreneurs? Absolutely! Here are just a few things I’ve learned along this journey:
Embrace who you are: In a world that is consistently telling us who we should be, it’s really important that we dig deep and get to know who we are. We tend to think that in order to be a successful Entrepreneur, we have to attend 4-networking events a month, produce video after video that showcases our expertise, attend every conference within our industry, take phone calls all the time, etc. You get the picture. While these things are not bad, we also have to realize that as introverts, it’s ok if we don’t do these things; there are other avenues to networking, learning, and sharing our expertise. If we want to succeed as Entrepreneurs, we have to not only know who we are, but we have to embrace what it is that makes us different and unique.
Don’t try to be all things to all people: When I first became an Entrepreneur, I tried to be all things to all people. I took phone calls all the time. I offered coaching via phone sessions because that’s what all the other successful entrepreneurs were doing. I attended events because everyone talked about how important it was to do that. In trying to be all things to all people, I wore myself out and didn’t really excel in any one area. And I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t until I zoomed in to my “sweet spot” that I started taking joy in what I was doing and I started excelling in what I was doing.
Find your passion: What moves you? What gets you excited and makes you jump out of bed in the morning? Knowing what you are passionate about is what will help you become a successful entrepreneur. Your passion is seen through your words, your facial expressions and even, what you accomplish on a daily basis. If you are doing “things” only because that’s what all the other successful entrepreneurs are doing, you will soon find yourself burned out. Know what moves you and fuels you and then, focus on that.
Know what works for you: When Periscope first came out, I really enjoyed it. But soon, everyone started creating daily shows at certain times and all I kept hearing was, “You HAVE to be on Periscope if you want to succeed.” Before I knew it, I became stressed; I felt like I had to keep up. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a live video here and there, but really, I much prefer the writing and the sharing of visually appealing pictures; that is what works for my introverted self. And as a side note, let me say this, we are about to embark on creating a podcast at iBloom and this REALLY excites me. I know that podcasting is something that will work for me. As an Entrepreneur, focus on what works for you. Don’t get distracted by what everyone else is doing and saying that you have to do too. Focus on you, what makes you unique, what makes you different and what it is that brings out your absolute best!
Create an environment that you love: Remember that open office plan? Yeah, that didn’t work for me. I did it, but the reality was, I needed my alone and quiet time throughout the day to really think through and complete my projects with excellence. Yes, I like people, I enjoy talking with them and working with them, but at times, I needed my alone time to really think things through. What kind of environment sparks your creativity? What environment inspires you, motivates you and moves you? Whatever it may be, create it. Make it all you!
Solitude matters: Whenever I speak at an event, I ALWAYS make sure that I have nothing else planned after the event. As an introvert, I’ve learned that while I LOVE speaking, I have to make sure that I have alone time after the event to rest and regroup. Even when I attend conferences, I always find a way to get some alone time in there. Honestly, it makes me better. Never apologize for taking time for yourself. Never apologize for choosing to be alone instead of with the crowd. That alone time is what will keep you from getting burned out and it is what will keep you going each and every day. This is the wonderful thing about the world of entrepreneurship; it isn’t a one-way road. The key to being a successful entrepreneur is knowing who you are at a deep level and then using your skills, gifts, talents and uniqueness to impact this world. So you tell me, are you an introverted entrepreneur? If so, what have you come to learn about yourself in this journey?