Written by: Samantha Touchais, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Have you ever wondered what it takes to leave the relative comfort and security of a 9 to 5 job, throw caution to the wind and start your own business? How does that thought make you feel? If you’re anything like me, perhaps you feel a mix of excitement at the possibility and potential this idea brings. But then, freeze in fear at the thought of leaving behind a stable salary with the perks (however small) that come with that.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the difference between introverts and extroverts and how they handle life’s challenges. It all came about when I talked to a friend who declared that sometimes being an introvert makes it difficult to parent her young children as the constant noise and action overwhelms her. The lack of downtime means she cannot recharge as much as she needs, and the solitude she used to use to get lost in thoughts is now non-existent.
It got me reflecting on what kind of personality is best suited to running a business. Perhaps you are asking, ‘Why does it even matter? Surely anyone with the right skills and motivation can run their own business?’ But I believe it is something that is not only extremely important to consider before starting down the path to entrepreneurship, but it is also undervalued and downplayed by too many people.
As a business coach, I have worked with many women who have felt the calling to launch their own business but have let their low self-esteem or unsupportive belief system stop them from taking that first step. Eventually, they come to me for help, and together we work through the beliefs and fears that are holding them back and create a plan that gets them moving and launching their dream business.
But, the number of people who believe they are not outgoing enough or charismatic enough to be an entrepreneur is surprisingly high, and I believe there are so many introverts out there who are not following their dreams as they do not believe they have the right personality to do so.
If this is you, or you know someone who may fall into this category, here are a few points for consideration; according to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, the following five megastars in the business world are introverts: Bill Gates, Larry Page, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
How did they work with their introversion to go on to achieve enormous levels of success? They made time for the deep contemplation that introverts need. They pushed through their fears when necessary by focusing on building the personality traits of charisma and effective communication that many entrepreneurs and senior business people rely on. They surrounded themselves with a team of people who complimented their own skillset. But I think the biggest tool that helped them (and this is a big plus of being an introvert) is their level of self-awareness. Introverts tend to be more self-aware because of their contemplative nature, and that is a huge plus when running your own business and trying to get the best out of your team and those around you.
So what can you do if you desire to run your own business but are afraid to take that first step as you don’t believe you have what it takes?
Here are my top three tips:
1. Realise that you do not have to ‘put yourself out there’ to be successful. Personal branding is all the rage these days with the rise of social media, and there is a misconception that if you are not splashing your face all over Instagram and Facebook, you won’t cut through the noise and clutter in the market place and therefore won’t find clients or customers. In other words, your business will fail. I am here to debunk this myth as it is absolutely not true! Personal branding, at the level we see it today, is a fairly recent phenomenon. For as long as there have been businesses, there have been personalities behind these businesses. But history shows that the world’s most successful brands were not about a certain person or personality but about a product and its associated qualities. The brand had its own personality. Businesses that are not about the owner but about the product itself can be just as successful as personal brands, so if you do not feel comfortable running Facebook Lives and putting your personal life on Instagram, then don’t. Find a cause or a gap in the market and launch products that support the cause or fill the gap. No-one needs to know it is you (Daft Punk did this really well in the music world).
2. Shy and retiring types can make great salespeople, but there are also many ways to make a sale. I HATE cold calling people. One of the jobs I had during my university days involved cold calling, and I used to feel sick to my stomach every time I would pick up the phone. My hands would start to sweat, my legs would jiggle in agitation, and I would sigh with the greatest sense of relief when I got to put the phone back down again after the call. Fast forward to today, and I avoid the phone like the plague. I know phoning someone is sometimes better than email, but if I have to use the phone, I like to prepare myself and take a few deep breaths before dialing the number.
If you can relate to this and are worried that shyness will hold you back, there are many techniques to overcome, including visualization, breathing exercises, and mindfulness. But smart business people also are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, so if there is a sales aspect to your business that you have tried and really feel you are not the best person to fill this role, then there is no shame in outsourcing it. There are plenty of VAs and experienced salespeople who can help you with this side of the business.
3. The most important personality traits needed to run a successful business are not just seen in extroverts. While there are many skills and experiences needed to run a thriving business, some of the most important ones have nothing to do with someone’s level of 'intro' or 'extroversion.' Integrity and ability to form meaningful relationships, determination, perseverance, and clarity of vision are crucial building blocks to any profitable business. Being an introvert has nothing to do with any of them.
I feel quite sad when I think of all the people in the world who could be working in a much more meaningful capacity than their current job but feel held back by their fear of not having what it takes to run their own business. Luckily Meryl Streep, Oprah, and JK Rowling managed their introversion, or the world would be a different place.
Samantha Touchais, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Samantha Touchais is a Business and Mindset Coach helping women create a safe and secure path to launching their dream business by providing them with the support and tools to make it a success. She has over 20 years of marketing and strategy experience working for large international companies worldwide, and it was her love of how the mind works and how to create the right mindset for success that led her into coaching. She lives and breathes marketing and mindset and loves sharing her learnings with others. Author of four books and the creator of the Well Being Series (a collection of apps and books that provide meditations and affirmations for well-being based on the latest neuro-science), she loves exploring Europe, where she has been for the last 14 years, but misses the beaches of her native Australia.