Long before I first decided to get into entrepreneurship, I was the most introverted kid you can possibly get.
I wanted nothing more than to stay in the shadows, free of conversations and people's attention.
I hated attention - all I wanted to do was get through the day and go home.
I found it very hard to speak to people whom I never knew before. I had my group of friends and that's all I needed.
I was a smart kid, I got through tests and exams unscathed.
Better yet, I did it almost every time without any revision or preparation for the exams.
With that said, I still hated participating in school competitions, school assemblies, stage talks, etc.
The scariest thing ever (following spiders) talking in front of a bunch of people with all eyes on me.
To be honest, I never knew what the problem was.
Was it the fear of being judged?
Was it the fear of attention?
Either way, as I slowly started to realise what my true purpose and goal was on this Earth, I noticed that where I was heading was incongruous to my purpose.
I realised that the real world is not a friendly place and that the fairy tale I was living all along was nothing compared to what's in store for me next.
All of this finally led to my leap of faith into entrepreneurship.
I was like a small fish in a tank of sharks now - the only way out is to adapt.
I was forced to learn new things and reform my identity.
I went from hating social interactions, to having 40+ meetings per month.
So how do introverts thrive in an extroverted world?
How do you thrive as an introverted entrepreneur?
That is going to be today's topic. Let's get started.
Manage your energy effectively
Being an introvert is tough and can often seem like a disadvantage.
Why do I have to suffer so much when there are people out there who can express themselves outwardly so well with little to no worry?
Why do I have to work so hard to build up the courage to do what seems like a small task when others are able to do them effortlessly?
The first time I ever had an online meeting, I needed the whole day, even the day before it to prepare.
I was so scared - I have never been in this situation before.
"I'm about to go into a 1-1 meeting online with someone I've never spoken to before."
"What are they going to think?"
"What's going to happen?"
My heart beat like it wanted to jump out of my chest.
My hands, underarms, everything was sweating like I just finished an intense workout.
The very first time, and even all the times after that, an introvert faces something out of their comfort zone, it'll feel like they're fighting a war.
The truth is, you never turn extroverted, heck, you don't really get used to it. You just learn to deal with it.
An introvert will never be an extrovert - you just learn to manage it.
That's why it's important to understand your limits and schedule some time to recharge.
There was a point in time where I was running Condensr and I had to head 40 meetings within a month's time.
A year prior, I would have passed out doing something like that.
It was mentally and physically draining.
I did 5 meetings a day some days.
This is where the rest comes in - taking small breaks, or getting some downtime is crucial for introverted entrepreneurs.
Play to your advantage
Have you noticed that most engineers or founders/co-founders of tech companies are very smart white or Asian people?
Usually, these are all introverted individuals who study engineering because it seems like the perfect job for them.
All they do is sit behind a computer, writing code, and earning a decent living.
What's there not to like as an introvert, right?
The truth is, every single person has their own ideals.
When I started my first ever business, I thought that my ideal was going to be the dropshipping business model.
It was so easy and it seemed like an introvert's dream.
Starting an online business without having to talk to customers, without having to hold inventory, without having to do any of the headache was perfect.
Of course, it was not that easy - if it were, then everyone and their grandma would own a dropshipping store.
E-commerce works, and it's one of the largest industries in the world.
It's all about finding what works for you.
When I discovered the marketing agency model, I was over the moon.
I saw an introverted kid, who was a mirror image of myself, living the dream life through what seemed to be such a simple business model.
A few weeks later, I discovered the nightmare I had consciously walked into.
Every single day, I would have to message people, annoy people, asking them if they're interested in my services.
When I found the 1 in a million person who said yes, I would need to get on a live call and convince them that I can help them with what I promised.
Thinking back now, I don't think introversion was the issue, the real problem was imposter syndrome.
After all, I'm just this kid who has never done anything meaningful in their lives approaching a business person telling them I know how to grow their business.
This was an introvert's nightmare and so I eventually had to escape.
Find what works for you.
There are a million and one different ways to make your dreams come to fruition.
Once those two are set in stone, you'll find a way to make it work.
Fake it till you make it
My first ever job was as a door-to-door salesperson.
I was sold into the vision of earning 6 figures by simply knocking on doors.
I couldn't see the downside because the upside shun so bright that it blinded my eyes.
First day on the job, and it was looking very good for me.
I was following around one of the best salespeople there, and watching him make sales so effortlessly gave me a boost in confidence I had never had before.
A few days later, it was my turn to get on the field - it was go-time.
There was a violent mashup of emotions in my stomach.
I felt stressed, worried, anxious, but I had a strong rush of adrenaline flowing through me.
First door - slammed.
Second door - not interested.
Third door - no answer.
Surprisingly, I made my first sale on my first day, but then my luck had depleted and I had a streak of bad luck throughout the next couple of weeks.
At the office, I can just remember the advice I had been given, 'fake it till you make it.'
I hated hearing that because I don't think anyone in there was as introverted as me.
I lasted long enough to see all the other introverts join and leave within a matter of days.
This was not a place for us.
The truth is, however, in the real world, extroverts are the survivors and so as an introvert, you're going to have to make some internal changes to compete.
And the only way to do so is by faking it till you make it.
Act extroverted, act as if you've been in these situations before.
The important thing is visualization.
Your enemy is your mind in this situation. The only way to bring it onto your side is by convincing it that it's used to this sort of situation.
Play out the ideal situation in your mind - over and over.
Whether it's confidently booking appointments, closing deals, and managing clients.
Play it out until it's cemented into your identity.
Sometimes you have to accept the fact that you're going to stay introverted and there isn't a lot you can do about it.
With this fate, however, you're better off finding a brother (or sister) in arms and marching into the battlefield together.
In fact, it's so much easier to start and grow a business with others.
You don't have to juggle every position on your own, you have others to help.
Running Hawk Prospecting, I'm currently the only person working on, and in, the business.
If I had started the business with 2 other people, both extroverted, for example, I would be able to rely on others to help with sales.
Sales is my weakness and it's important that I find others to take this role on if the company is to thrive.
You might be thinking: "I don't have anyone to partner with."
There are many ways to find people to work with - one article I wrote on networking can help you with this.
The good thing is that there are millions of other introverts in the world and so you're not alone.
You don't have to partner with extroverts, but you can partner with other introverts.
There is definitely power in numbers.
Embrace your gift
Did you know some of the biggest entrepreneurs in the world are introverted?
- Larry Page
- Bill Gates
- Warren Buffet
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Elon Musk
All of these entrepreneurs have two things in common - they're all billionaires ($100 billion+ net worth) and they're all introverted!
There's clearly an introvert advantage, right?
Sales is one of the most important skills to have as an entrepreneur, after all, 'To Sell Is Human.'
However, the extroverted sales, the Grant Cardone-type sales, is what we're used to seeing.
That's because extroverts demand attention, they demand the spotlight and they want to be heard.
Introverts do things in the shadows, they strike where people don't expect.
An introvert makes the best salesperson.
Introverts are great at naturally building relationships with others and are known for wanting to make a genuine contribution.
Introverts make great leaders. They observe and listen, they don't speak out of turn but wait for everyone to finish before they chip in their two cents.
The smartest person in the room is the quietest person in the room.
As introverts, we can listen and learn what people think, what people want, and make rational decisions or suggestions that truly add value.
A great leader, as Simon Sinek says, is the leader who speaks last - something introverts are great at doing.
He talks more about this in his book 'Leaders Eat Last.'
I want to end this article with something that truly changed my view of the world.
Simon Sinek, again, once said that 'people are too busy worrying about what others think of them, that they don't think about you.'
This made me realise the reality that we're facing.
Most of the time, when you think you're being judged, you're probably not.
The people you think are watching and judging are too worried about what others are thinking about them.
Let that sink in.
That's how you can thrive as an introverted entrepreneur.
To succeed in an extroverted world, you have two options.
Embrace your power, or succumb to it.
The choice is in your hands now.
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Till next time,