Blog entry by Alan Chapman
The Introvert's Guide to Succeeding in Business
You have the idea, the perfect company name and are ready to register your company. You already know it’s going to be hard. You're an introvert, so the prospect of creating and growing a successful business is overwhelming. From pitching to investors, to chasing invoices and dealing with staff. We'll guide you through how to deal with some of these fear-inducing aspects of starting a business.
Recruit a business partner that thrives on personal interaction
While you want to build your business alone, sometimes it’s good to get some help. As with comparative advantage, you should delegate certain aspects of running your company. This allows you to increase your productivity as you can focus on the aspects of your company that you are best at.
Bring in a director who is enthusiastic about meeting new people and public speaking. This will not only help you internally. Someone with more experience and confidence in pitching can aid your company’s growth and help with gaining outside investment. They will also be better equipped to deal with any internal aspects of running a company that fill you with dread. Providing a more accessible person for your staff to reach out to will help greatly with your staff retention.
Don’t hire more people than you need
If social interaction makes you anxious, creating a great team can be difficult. Aside from the obvious cost-saving benefits, building your team slowly should help you. You will be sacrificing the potential for rapid growth, but you must feel comfortable with the size of your team. You’ll be able to build rapport and meaningful relationships with these people. You will become accustomed to your team, and they can be a great buffer for any new hires. Building your team steadily will also help minimise the chances of having to fire someone for financial reasons.
Hire other introverts
If you don’t fare well in an environment with ‘larger than life’ people, don’t hire them. A simple tip, but very effective if you like to keep your head down and focus. It will stop you from feeling uncomfortable in the office.
Introverts are more aware of the inefficiencies of teams. This helps keep meetings shorter and allows your team to be more individually productive. It is important to stress to your introverted employees that teams are more powerful tools than whatever an individual can do.
Embrace the software available to you
Just because you’re an introvert, doesn’t mean you aren’t a great communicator. When given a comfortable outlet to do so, you can lead your team and projects effectively. This is where software such as Slack comes in. It allows for natural collaboration without needing face-to-face interaction. It also helps to bring any remote team members into your projects. You can archive any conversations for those who aren’t present at a particular meeting. Prioritising the use of email can also help you avoid uncomfortable situations when dealing with staff. Having written documentation of everything will make disciplinary issues go much more smoothly.
Leverage the power of listening over speaking
Not a confident speaker? This may not be a bad thing - being a good listener could be key to understanding your business needs. Taking the time to listen to employees and customers will allow you to build more genuine relationships. You will be able to better analyse the pros and cons of any arguments by listening. You will have a confident stance when the time comes to speak up about any issues affecting your company.
Raise your expectations
Being introverted in group activities doesn’t have to hold you back from being a great leader. Having low expectations of the outcomes of group activities will.
Try to block out any psychological barriers you put up before the meeting. Envisage the best thing that could come out of meeting and guide the meeting to this outcome. If you set yourself high expectations, you’ll naturally take on a leadership role.
Make sure you’re comfortable in your office
One of the easiest ways of feeling empowered is to make your workspace as comfortable as possible. Why not take the time to soundscape your office? This could be from having your office space soundproofed or playing soothing music. A comfortable environment will give you more confidence when interacting with your team.
Although open plan offices are trendy right now and can save you money, they are likely to not suit your working style. This doesn’t mean you have to settle for depressing cubicles. There are many different options available to you, such as the hospitality format. This encourages you to work wherever you are most comfortable and only meet up with employees for necessary collaborative sessions.
Keep track of your long term plan
It’s important to have an idea of your long-term goals and keep them in mind. You should check how you are performing against these goals. A bi-annual review of your company will help keep you motivated and make sure your plans are moving along smoothly. You'll begin to realise that your introverted nature isn’t holding you or your company back.
As it’s often said, Rome wasn’t built in a day - and the same goes for your business whilst being introverted. So take comfort in knowing that as you grow your business, your confidence will grow and your introverted side will begin to recede. This allows your extroverted side to become more pronounced. By gradually hiring employees only when absolutely necessary, you will feel more prepared to handle a team of people.
Get out of your comfort zone
You will encounter some uncomfortable situations when running your business. It is inevitable. The best way to prepare yourself for this is to get out of your comfort zone on your own terms. This will let you retain some control of the situation and will build up your confidence in dealing with the issues over time.
Organise a relaxed meeting every Thursday afternoon to informally brainstorm ideas. It will allow you to better interact with your team while retaining some structure. Providing some drinks would also help the flow.
You can use late payment reminder templates to chase your invoices. This stops you having to interact personally with clients and late paying customers. It is important that you gain some confidence in chasing late payments. Cash flow issues are a big threat to new companies. It is also unlikely that you will be able to afford a finance controller in your infancy. Phoning up to make the first payment reminder might make you uncomfortable. In the long term, it could be integral to your company’s success. The client will be more likely to pay outstanding invoices as they attribute a person to the debt, not a company.
Introverts prove their worth through their actions rather than through their words. If you relate to many of these points and find some social situations uncomfortable, take note that you’re not alone. You can and will be successful in business and in life by making a few adjustments. Celebrate your successes and use those to empower you for each milestone. Remember, you're a lot further than you thought you would be.