5 Reasons Why Being Introverted is an Advantage in Entrepreneurship
Today’s internet landscape is dominated by loud, vibrant, and extroverted personalities. As Susan Cain notes in her book, Quiet, as a society we have shifted from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality.
Cain explains the Culture of Character as a time when “what counted was not so much the impression one made in public as how one behaved in private.” In contrast, “when they embraced the Culture of Personality, Americans started to focus on how others perceived them. They became captivated by people who were bold and entertaining.”
To express what these ideals look like played out in real life, Cain offers readers a powerful character illustration: “If Abraham Lincoln was the embodiment of virtue during the Culture of Character, then Tony Robbins is his counterpart during the Culture of Personality.”
Before we get any further, it’s important to note what Cain is not saying.
She isn’t saying that one age was inherently better than the other. Just as she points out that we need a balance between extroversion and introversion. They are the ying and yang of personality culture and in order for us to move our world in the direction we want it to go, we have to begin treating them as such.
So, what does this have to do with entrepreneurship?
As both an introvert and entrepreneur myself, I’ve found that we have made the mistake of miscategorizing entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is a skill, not a personality type.
Building a business requires so much more than being good at small talk or charismatic in front of potential investors. It demands persistence and tenacity and attention. Entrepreneurship requires so many of the traits which come naturally to introverts.
Here are seven of the most important reasons why being introverted really is an advantage in entrepreneurship.
(1) Introverts are excellent observers.
Introverts are naturally more perceptive of the world around them. Susan Cain calls this a “clear-sightedness to avoid pitfalls that trip others up.”
Because introverts tend to stay out of the limelight and gravitate towards the wallflower position in most social settings, they gain a view most people miss.
By seeing more, introverts gather more information which enables them to make better, strategic decisions.
(2) Introverts are incredible listeners.
Introverts are more reserved because they are biologically “high-reactive” which means they are “more strongly affected by all experience, both positive and negative.”
Introverts listen with their whole bodies. Everything from their body temperature to their brain patterns react when they interact with another human being. When you have an introvert’s attention, they are not only going to hear what you have to say — they’re also going to feel it, and dissect it, and remember it.
Listening well lays the foundation for their strong leadership skills and deep human connections.
(3) Introverts are powerfully persistent.
Albert Einstein was famously quoted as saying, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” We’ve all seen those posters that say genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Well, according to research, this may be true.
Susan Cain cites the work of psychologist Gerald Matthews who has done extensive research on how extroverts and introverts problem solve. Cain writes, “Extroverts are more likely to take a quick-and-dirty approach to problem-solving, trading accuracy for speed” while introverts “think before they act, digest information thoroughly, stay on task longer, give up less easily, and work more accurately.”
Entrepreneurship rewards those who are able to solve the biggest and most widespread problems in our world. Who better to do that than the people who are willing to sit and think and stay with a problem until they know exactly what needs to be done?
(4) Introverts are more likely to notice change.
One of the reasons extroverts seek out so much social interaction is because their brains are less reactive to novelty.
Imagine our amygdala, our “emotional brain” as Cain calls it, as the dial on a speaker. For extroverts, that dial is turned low so their brain interprets most of life’s interactions as calmer than they may be in reality. Their brains crave stimulation so they seek out more people, more noise, and more energy.
For introverts, the dial is turned way up. We don’t need as much stimulation from the outside world because everything happening inside of our heads and in our personal bubbles is plenty.
Because our dials are so high, we tend to notice things other people miss. Small shifts in mood or changes in our environment. This may seem trivial until you begin applying this ability to the realms of business and investing, where a small change caught early could save your company millions.
Insight is an introvert’s secret weapon.
(5) Introverts thrive at delaying gratification.
Near the end of the book Quiet, Susan Cain discusses the topic of reward-sensitivity. This trait determines how likely a person (or more precisely, their brain) is to be motivated by external rewards. What studies have found is fascinating.
One theory argues that reward-sensitivity “is not only an interesting feature of extroversion; it is what makes an extrovert an extrovert.” So, what does this mean for introverts?
Introverts are naturally more adept at delaying gratification because they are motivated by different things. Excellence, expertise, social harmony — these all matter as much, if not more so, to introverts than fame, wealth, and awards.
Entrepreneurs are often required to invest years, even decades, of their lives into a project before ever seeing a significant return on their investment. Who better suited to endure the marathon that is business-building than the person who could care less about the kind of car they drove to work in?
Introverts are uniquely gifted at becoming entrepreneurs. What they may lack in bravado, they more than make up for in strategy.
If you’re an introvert looking to dive into entrepreneurship, learn to value who you are and how you work. Your attention, depth, and tenacity are your super-powers.
You don’t have to be loud to win. You can be different. Something steadier. Someone quiet.
5 Mega-Successful Entrepreneurs Who Are Introverts https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286611
How to Start a Business When You’re an Introvert https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287135
Why Introverts May Be Better at Business Than Extroverts. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/276137