"The Introvert Entrepreneur"
Author – Beth Buelow
Publisher – Virgin Books, 2015
Can help with: introverts worried that they have to act out of character to do business.
An easy read, ideal for those new to the subject, perhaps lacking depth for those wishing to explore in greater detail.
Book Review of "Introvert Entrepreneur"
If you are an introvert running your own business or thinking of doing so then this book is worth a read. Often those with an introverted personality can feel like they have to act like an extrovert in order to succeed in business, especially in sales. It can be either just too difficult or at least detrimental to our mental health to pretend to be someone we’re not day after day. We can be left with a feeling that our integrity is being compromised and perhaps being an entrepreneur is something that is for extroverts, not us. I am an introvert myself and found it a welcome change reading a book about business that is consciously written from a sympathetic perspective.
Introversion Is Not A Weakness
The subtitle to the book – “Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms” reflects the author’s confidence that introverts have strengths that they can tap into and are not in fact purely burdened with weaknesses compared to their extrovert peers. This means that following a model or template that an extrovert has used might not be a good fit for you if you are an introvert.
As you may have guessed from our values and the ethos on this website, I very much agree with Beth here. Although we might think that we can replicate someone else’s success by doing exactly what they did, this all too often doesn’t work and can cause a lot of stress. Another person may hold different values, have a very different personality and the circumstances surrounding them won’t be the same as you either. This doesn’t mean we can’t learn from others, but it does mean we need to be careful about simply trying to copy them as this can lead to confusion, stress and disappointment.
Aligning Your Business With Your Values & Character
Similarly to myself, the author thinks that it is wise to align your business decisions with your own personal values. You will then “grow based on what is most important to you and how you’ve defined success” (p.64). One danger of not doing so is that you end up building someone else’s dream instead of your own.
Beth Buelow identifies energy as a key factor for introvert entrepreneurs. If we spend a lot of time doing activities that require extrovert energy then introverts can quickly become tired and worn out. “We have to create processes and approaches that support our personality and style” (p.116). One practical tip for sales – an activity commonly thought of as more in keeping with extroversion – is to focus on passion and authenticity when it comes to sales. That way, you can draw on the energy that your passion gives and enjoy talking about what matters to you in a more natural way.
Practical Tips for Introvert Entrepreneurs
The author covers several different areas of business that you can adapt to suit your nature, including: networking, sales, getting coaching, collaborations and building community. You may find some of these useful and food for thought, but equally they don’t go into massive depth here. I’m not totally convinced of her viewing networking as essentially in-person. For one thing, these days it is totally possible to network online. However, more importantly, she seems to assume that there will be some suitable potential clients or connections to potential clients available at these meetings. This might not be true at all. I would advocate researching where your target market is and how you might best be able to connect with them. If you don’t work with local businesses, then local face to face networking groups might be of little use.
When we’re trying to earn a living out of our businesses, it can be difficult to avoid financial considerations being at the forefront. However, the author suggests that choosing a niche or target market “based purely on financial considerations… [means that] you’ll be making that choice based on fear: fear that your ideal market won’t pay, fear of breaking from the mainstream, fear that following your heart will mean sacrifice” (p.121). She is right that fear is not the best motivator and can result in poor decision making. Yet, we must recognise that for some, money might well be a key motivator (see our motivators quiz) and bring satisfaction. Nevertheless, the heart of her argument stands – as a self-employed photographer, we need to cater for all of our key motivators, not just finance. Otherwise, we risk having to put on a mask every day to carry out a business that we are doing to survive rather than because we are expressing ourselves authentically through it.
Are You an Introvert Entrepreneur?
There are various in-depth tests that can help to confirm how introverted or extroverted you are. We can delve into those as part of your mentoring, or you can try our short, fun quiz for photographers to get a quick answer. Click the button below to go straight there.