I’m an introvert. I do my best work when I’ve had time to reflect and work alone. In fact, too much external stimuli overwhelms me. So how am I also an entrepreneur?
That’s a good question. Most entrepreneurs are extroverts. In fact, some of the words that we would use to describe the stereotypical entrepreneur—outgoing, gregarious, charming, a salesman, a schmoozer—is pretty much how we would also describe the typical extrovert.
Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, details the benefits of being an introvert. And while I agree that there are many benefits to being an introvert, I have to admit that being an introvert (in my opinion) is still a bit of a liability sometimes as an entrepreneur. So much of the job is about getting out there, meeting people, making connections, and promoting your startup. These things are just that much harder to do as an introvert.
I spent my first year trying to be more like the extroverted entrepreneurs around me, and it just burned me out. So now, I’ve created some guidelines for myself on how to survive, and hopefully thrive, as an introverted entrepreneur.
1. Be yourself. Know your limitations.
I simply can’t go to networking events and meetups every night, and still function and get the work done on my startup, ProfessorWord, that needs to be done. I need time alone to think, reflect, plan, and to, well, do work. I used to try to fight it, but I don’t anymore. I know what I need to work productively and I honor that.
With that said, I also don’t want to get stuck in my comfort zone. Once a month, I look at all the upcoming events on the schedule that may be helpful, and I make myself do a few things that I might normally turn down, because you just never know!
3. Be prepared so you can leverage your time.
Because I can’t attend as many events as extroverted entrepreneurs do, I know I have to make the most of each event that I go to. I try to do my homework before events—reviewing the attendee list, researching who will be there, rehearsing what I’ll say—so that when I’m at the event I can feel comfortable getting out there, making connections, and promoting ProfessorWord as well as any extrovert. It just takes a little more planning and effort.
If there are any introverted entrepreneurs out there, please let me know @professorword: What do you do to help you survive and thrive the challenges of entrepreneurship?
Until next time,
- Five Tips for Ed-Tech Startups Entering Business Plan Competitions
- An Ed-Tech Entrepreneur’s Mantra: No Margin, No Mission
- Give Entrepreneurs (and Teachers) a Break!
- The Mental Game of Being an Entrepreneur
- Finding the Right Incubator for your Ed-Tech Startup
Have questions or feedback? Comment below or let me know on Twitter @professorword!