introvert in business

The Introvert’s Guide to Running a Successful Business

By Susan Guillory

If you met me in person, you wouldn’t believe that I’m an introvert. I love being in a whirlwind of activity, surrounded by people…when I choose to. Afterward, I’m drained.

I once read that extroverts get their energy from other people, while introverts are drained by other people. So while I love being social, I have to be picky.

So how in the heck do I run a business? Over the years (10 of them, actually), I’ve made my own rules about how to run my business on my own introvertive terms. If you’re an introvert in business too, these tips might help you manage your energy.

Be Selective About Where You Put Your Energy

At one point, I thought I wanted to pursue public speaking. Then I was honest with myself about how stressful it was to prepare for my presentation, actually give it, and then deal with the energy drain comedown.

The same thing happens at networking events. So now I’m highly picky about what events and speaking engagements I take on. Will they serve my business, or just give me an ego boost (at a high price)?

Never be afraid to say no to an opportunity if you’re not excited by it.

Find the Communication Channel That Suits You (But Be Flexible)

I adore email. It gives me time to think of an appropriate response, and it doesn’t distract me from what I’m doing like the phone does. So I’d email clients all day long if I could.

Still, I have some clients that prefer chatting. One loves Skype. So rather than being a curmudgeon and telling him I don’t want to Skype, I set up parameters (“Let’s schedule a call rather than you ping me whenever you feel like it.”) and it works.

Give Yourself Downtime When You Need It

I know that I’m crankier than an old woman drinking prune juice after spending a day at a conference, so I build in time to just unwind in my hotel room. I do the same after a day filled with calls and presentations.

You have to know yourself and how your body and mind respond to stress. And yes, for introverts, being around tons of people is stressful. Be gentle to yourself and don’t overbook.

Put Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone from Time to Time

I’m not advocating that you lock yourself in your mama’s basement and never see people or the light of day again. In fact, it’s good to do things that you’d rather not do from time to time. So accept that coffee date invitation with a colleague in your industry. Attend a conference or two. You never know what good will come of it, and I guarantee, you’ll be glad you went. Just take care of yourself afterward!

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Susan Guillory
Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She's written three business books, including How to Get More Customers With Press Releases, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

4 comments

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  1. As a fellow introvert I can completely relate. I work for a small marketing company and absolutely LOATHE making sales calls for out magazine. It’s like pulling teeth BUT I’m getting better at it the more I do it.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this seldom addressed issue! It has taken me many years and frustrations to discover these kind of “best practices” for myself and others. It’s great to know when others have similar struggles and solutions. :-)

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