The typical image that comes to mind when someone says the word “introvert” is of a man or woman who’s shy, quiet, or a loner.
We often don’t think of them as having the social acumen required to climb the corporate ladder, start a successful business, or make billions of dollars.
However, history tells us that introverts often make the best entrepreneurs.
Take Bill Gates, currently the wealthiest person on earth, worth $79.2 billion and one of the most influential businessmen who has ever lived. From an interview on the Huffington Post, writer Susan Cain noted that, “Bill Gates is quiet and bookish, but apparently unfazed by others’ opinions of him: he’s an introvert, but not shy.”
Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors ever, is an introvert. J.K. Rowling, the author of the famed Harry Potter series remembers being too shy to ask anyone for a pen to jot down her ideas when she first came up with the concept for her book series while sitting on a delayed train. The list goes on and on.
So what is it about introverts that makes them so great at business?
Let’s take a look at some of the traits that introverts typically have, that give them a leg up in the business world.
For starters, introverts are often very passionate about their ideas and creating something new.
They aren’t all about gaining power and they don’t crave glorification, Cain explained to the Wall Street Journal. She says, “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.”
Aside from focusing on their creations, introverts have the ability to sit in solitude for hours at a time and be alone.
This means that they have the space to calmly think through the next moves for their business, instead of becoming distracted with social interaction or other attractive short-term goals. Extroverts need to be surrounded by people in order to thrive, which doesn’t give them much of an opportunity to sit with their thoughts and build a well-thought out plan.
Introverts are also better, in general, at listening to and empathizing with people, according to Fast Company.
These skills come in handy in business situations. When a client, employee, or customer is upset, an introvert can be sensitive to their needs. Instead of reacting quickly to an issue, introverts take in the information, and then think critically about the best solution possible.
When introverts are in charge, customers, employees, and clients are more likely to be heard and able to get their issues solved.
Along with being great at listening, introverted entrepreneurs are always looking for the best solutions, and are much less likely to allow their egos cloud their judgement.
When trying to build a profitable business, it comes in handy to have the most talented people on your side. Waylae Gregoire of NextShark wrote that while extroverts want to promote their own business plans, “introverts focus on the thoughts and actions of others. As an entrepreneur, introverts are naturally accustomed to analyzing the ideas of others, offering thoughtful feedback, and organizing what others bring to the table.”
When you’re doing business, you must have people skills.
You must have the ability to flip situations around and see situations from another person’s perspective. It’s also imperative that you have the ability to remain humble when you make a mistake. Introverts aren’t afraid to admit their failures. If you can say that you were wrong about an issue, you’re going to demonstrate to clients, employees, and customers that you’re human, and that you make errors from time to time. Nobody wants to work with or under an entrepreneur who doesn’t have the ability to see his or her own flaws.
If you’re an introverted entrepreneur, there is much hope for you. Even if you’re not outgoing or perfectly comfortable in social situations, you can still be a strong leader and achieve your goals by pushing yourself to become comfortable with these situations. Just ask Gates, Buffett, Rowling, or the countless other successful introverted entrepreneurs out there.
Check out Master Your People Skills with Vanessa Van Edwards and learn how to become the most memorable person in the room, even as an introvert.