What do Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk all have in common? First of all, they’re all immensely successful entrepreneurs whose work has transformed our technology and our lives. They’re also all introverted entrepreneurs. And they’re not anomalies.
A review by Harvard Business Law entitled “The Hidden Advantages of a Quiet Boss” showed that 40% of top level executives are introverts.
Of course, that still means that the vast majority of top level executives are extroverts, which is no surprise in a world, and particularly a business world, where a “commanding presence” is seen as one of the strongest qualities of a leader.
Extroverted entrepreneurs can captivate an audience, inspire their staff, and convince the world why their business is worth investing in.
These are all great qualities in an entrepreneur, but they’re not the only qualities a great entrepreneur should have. In fact, there’s something to be said for entrepreneurs who are able to back away from the crowd and think and create on their own before showing it to the rest of the world.
As far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required…The presence of others can only inhibit the process, since creation is embarrassing…”
Introverts are Careful
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Being an introvert does not necessarily mean that you’re antisocial, but it does mean that you prefer to focus on your inner world rather than your outer world.
Introverts tend to process information and work through their thoughts on their own before they draw any conclusions or take any action. If an introvert decides to start their own business, you can bet that they’ve already given it serious, thorough thought before announcing it to anyone.
Because of this, introverts tend to be much more careful. They’re less likely to run into bumps in the road that they hadn’t considered before. They consider risks carefully so that they only take calculated risks that stand the best chance of helping their enterprise.
Introverted entrepreneurs plan for five years or even ten years down the line. When problems do arise, as problems always will, introverts are more likely to be prepared with a contingency plan, or even two contingency plans.
If they are to pick a niche to focus all their energies on, they are likely going to a more profitable business niche because they took time to observe it from a distance.
Introverts are Creative
In society, it’s easy to say, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” Everything has been done before, and even the most seemingly original ideas tend to be more of a combination of various creations by others that we’ve observed and consumed.
In fact, studies show that in groups, we tend to mirror each other and even to conform our opinions to the opinions of the people around us. It’s easy to think of innovations as a conversation in which entrepreneurs are simply building off each other, and there is merit to that.
However, if it is possible to have a truly original thought or idea, the best way to achieve it is to separate yourself from the herd.
Some of the greatest thinkers throughout history, from Jesus Christ to Virginia Woolf to Steve Wozniak, have found their greatest ideas in solitude. As Isaac Asimov once said, “As far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required…The presence of others can only inhibit the process, since creation is embarrassing…”
In a crowd, it’s easy to doubt your ideas or to compare them to the ideas of others. Not only can this lead extroverted thinkers to put their best business ideas away out of fear that others will reject it, but it can even cause them to conform their ideas to the more prevalent ideas around them.
Introvert entrepreneurs know that to be a leader, you have to be willing to risk public opinion and stay true to your ideas. More recently, Jeff Bezos agreed with Asimov by telling his shareholders, “…We are willing to invent. And very importantly, we are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.”
Introverts Are Efficient
When we think of introverted entrepreneurs, “efficient” might not be the first thing that comes to mind.
On the other hand, efficient employees and creators are often praised as being a “heads down worker:” they don’t let themselves become distracted, they don’t procrastinate, they just focus on the task at hand until it’s finished.
This is itself a very introverted trait. Introverted entrepreneurs are concerned with the inner world, which allows them to focus on what’s important to them at the moment and shut out environmental distractions.
Introverts are known for “deep thinking,” which allows them to see and consider the problem thoroughly in order to find the most efficient solution.
It’s that same tendency towards carefulness that allows introverts to carefully consider before making the right choice, rather than making several trial and error attempts.
Introvert entrepreneurs are also efficient because they’re not micromanagers. An introvert craves alone time to recharge after interacting with the outer world, so introvert entrepreneurs are more likely to step back and trust their team where they can. Which leads us to the final point…
Introverts Work Well With Extroverts
Some of the most successful entrepreneurial teams have been introvert/extrovert.
Larry Page of Google is an introvert, while Sergey Brin is an extrovert.
Steve Wozniak worked in tandem with the extroverted, gregarious Steve Jobs to create Apple.
Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway is an introvert with a hands-off approach to his business, allowing his trusted staff to do their jobs in peace so he can do the same.
In fact, introverts and extroverts teaming up allow each of them to focus on their strengths. Introverts can be deep, creative thinkers in peace, and extroverts can draw in investors, promote, and brainstorm with the team to their heart’s content.
By allowing an introvert to handle introverted tasks and the extrovert to handle extroverted tasks, both partners are at their most creative and efficient and can create genius innovations.
There’s no doubt that extroverted entrepreneurs have plenty to offer the business world, and in a society that seems catered to extroverts, it may be that there will always be more extrovert entrepreneurs than introvert entrepreneurs.
But introverts can themselves be brilliant innovators who are better able to plan and execute their businesses because of those quiet, internalized skills that come naturally to them.
This is a guest post by Josh Elkin, founder of Best Coast Marketing a marketing agency that helps increase your clients’ traffic through organic link building. Josh enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, marketing, productivity and self-improvement.