It goes without saying – but I’m going to say it – in order to achieve your goals, you must try; even more so if you’re pursuing your own business. Starting from zero, or anywhere close, and getting to 100 requires a lot of personal effort. So, is this possible as an introvert? You really have to put yourself out there in order to gain traction as a business owner and entrepreneur. Great news – it’s possible!
Hi! I’m Tonia, and I’m an introvert. Comes as a surprise, doesn’t it? Did the whole Lifestyle Coach, running my own business and meeting people thing fool you? I get it. This would fool me too! I’ve trained myself to be an extrovert, some of the time. For me, there’s just no moving past staying in, relaxing and recharging my batteries. Yes, I do feel a slight twinge of guilt for not being more social, because being social helps my business. But, as an introvert, I find the downtime is what has helped me be ready for the days when being social is on my calendar. The transition from introvert to extrovert is a bit easier.
When it comes to being an extrovert in the business-sense, I am very selective. Networking is a challenge. While I love being around driven, empowered change makers, putting myself out there to socialize and meet other entrepreneurs can be incredibly draining. For instance, listening to inspiring speakers share their stories motivates me to network and start conversations like nobody’s business. Bring on big motivational conferences where like-minded individuals gather to learn from the best of the best. That’s my jam! However, events that are purely networking-based, where I find myself wandering a through a sea of nametags, introducing myself over and over again in an effort to get a business card is not for me. And this is a lesson the extroverted me has taught the introverted me. Network in a way that the introvert and extrovert can meet and feel good.
Some entrepreneurs may argue that networking is the key to success. In my opinion there are no absolutes. Is there only one key to success? I don’t know about you, but I certainly have more than one key on my keyring. For me, networking on my terms, self-education, and investment in personal development has been the secret sauce.
In a previous blog post recounting my personal development journey, I talk about the power that our mind has in determining our overall success. Since my business model is a virtual service, it allows me to work with women around the world, so I don’t necessarily need to attend a local networking event to find new clients. Each of us have our own secret sauce. If your goal is to open your own brick and mortar business, your sauce might look a little bit different than mine. And that’s the beauty of being the CEO of your own life! You get to call the shots. You get to create the type of business model that feels aligned to you.
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How, exactly, does an introvert succeed in business? There are a few tactical things we can do in order to move from our comfortable, safe, secure space into that not-so-comfortable public space. Generally, we must bring awareness to our introverted tendencies, and then choose to move past them. Here are a few examples of the things I did over the years to expand my comfort zone and become a bit more extroverted about my business:
Believe it or not, this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Why? Because sharing makes it real. When you tell the people closest to you, then you’re opening yourself up to judgement. What no one tells you – but I will – is that your friends and family are either the most supportive of your new venture, or quick to judge and shut you down.It hurts when you’ve shared a life plan that totally excites you with someone you care about that doesn’t share your excitement. This lack of enthusiasm or even criticism comes from love and fear. You’ve strayed from the flock, and that is scary to a lot of people. The best thing you can do is try to not take it personally, keep your nose to the grindstone, and push on. Prove the naysayers wrong! Remember, your vision has to be bigger than anyone else’s opinion!
When you ask a question, you have to be prepared that there is a 50% chance the answer will be, No. Get used to this word, because as an entrepreneur, you’re going to hear it a lot. In the beginning being told, No, 90% of the time was a tough pill to swallow. After noticing the general trend of how many “No’s” it took to get to a “Yes,” I started playing a little game with myself. For every 20 “No’s” I heard, I knew there was a “Yes” just around the corner!Stick with it. Keep asking, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you receive a “Hell Yes!” After all, you don’t want to ever have to convince someone to work with you. I’d rather work with a few, “Hell yes” clients than have to convince one hundred “Meh” clients any day!
In life, we fail. The difference between failing and quitting, and failing and getting back up, is what makes or breaks the success of your business. It’s hard to mess up, especially in front of others. I’ve done it many times, and my introverted self would immediately want to shut down. This brings me back to my first point: your vision must be big enough to overcome the fear of failing, because you will. You will fail over and over again. How will you choose to react? Will you bounce back? Will you decide being an entrepreneur is not for you? Or will you persevere and push beyond, learning from each experience?Here’s a surprise – some of the most influential entrepreneurs who are killing it right now are introverts. The beautiful thing about introverts is we spend a lot of time in our heads envisioning the life or business we dream of creating. Channel that powerful vision into your motivation. Let it pull you up one more time when you’ve been faced with embarrassment or failure. Use it as your fuel to keep going!
Within the first year of starting my own business, my mentor told me to attend a nationwide personal training event in Dallas, TX. The event was estimated to have over 4,000 people attending and the tickets were $500 (not including flights, food or hotels). My mentor explained some of the top leaders and income earners in the industry would be attending and speaking at this event; if I wanted to be successful in this venture I should learn from the best of the best.The thought of spending my money was intimidating. I was unemployed after being laid off my last job. The thought of being the only person I knew at a huge conference was even more intimidating. However, I decided she was right. If I was going to be an entrepreneur and succeed, I was going to have to do something I’d never done: invest in myself and my education as a budding entrepreneur. I went to the event and my mind was blown. The empowering success stories, the training I received, the people I met, and the level of personal development success principles I received helped me increase my level of confidence and my capabilities tenfold. And, my introverted self, met my extroverted self.
This phrase is pasted all over Instagram if you follow #entrepreneur. While I understand the idea, I think it sets up a lot of new entrepreneurs for failure. This goes double if you are an introvert. As an introvert, talking about yourself is hard enough. The pressure of creating a false lifestyle, discussing it publicly, and continuing to cultivate it is excruciating for an introvert.In the beginning, I was told to “fake it” from a few successful entrepreneurs. Instead I chose to embrace my entrepreneurial growing pains with honesty and authenticity. Even though it wasn’t as glamorous as the fake lifestyle I could’ve created, it felt more genuine to be real. And, in all honesty, the introverted part of me couldn’t handle the attention immediate (albeit fake) success would bring. I wanted my audience to know I was sticking with my goals, learning and growing. I shared why I chose to become an entrepreneur, what I envisioned creating, and how it would impact people.I knew that it was better to share the struggle openly and honestly instead of struggling inside, which is what I feel this “fake it” premise promotes. Instead I chose to have my mess become my message.
There is someone out there that has done what you want to do and succeeded. Someone has gone before you and blazed a trail on the path that you want to tread. Find that someone and learn from them. Let them guide you through the stumbling blocks. Ask them for help. Learn from their mistakes. Alleviate the struggle, frustration and self-doubt. Your mentor has been through it all before and will be delighted to help you through it too!
I encourage you to find a friendship between your introverted self and the extroverted you that’s waiting to be discovered. When you find that balance, your chances of success will grow exponentially. You can achieve your goals, introvert! How can I help? Please share in the comments below. Let’s connect!