The image of the outgoing, gregarious, never-met-a-stranger entrepreneur is a common one. That's especially true when many successful entrepreneurs appear to have pushed through obstacles and setbacks by force of personality alone.
So being an extrovert is a prerequisite for being a great entrepreneur, right?
Here's a guest post from Kylie Ora Lobel, a writer that covers content marketing and runs Kylie's Tips for Writers, a blog about writing.
The typical image that comes to mind when someone says the word introvert is of a person who's shy, quiet, or a loner.
We often don't think of them as having the social acumen required to climb the corporate ladder, start a successful business, or create a company worth billions of dollars.
However, history tells us quite a different tale. In fact, taking a look at the some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time shows that introverts have been among the most successful people.
Take Bill Gates, currently the wealthiest person on earth (he's worth $79.2 billion) and one of the most influential businessmen who has ever lived. From an interview on the Huffington Post, writer Susan Cain noted that "Bill Gates is quiet and bookish, but apparently unfazed by others' opinions of him: he's an introvert, but not shy."
Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors ever, is an introvert.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the famed Harry Potter series, remembers being too shy to ask anyone for a pen to jot down her ideas when she first came up with the concept for her book series while sitting on a delayed train.
The list goes on and on. So what is it about introverts that makes them so great at business?
Let's take a look at some of the traits that introverts typically have that give them a leg up in the competitive world of business.
For starters, introverts are often very passionate about their ideas and creating something new.
They aren't all about gaining power and they don't crave glorification, Cain explained to The Wall Street Journal. She says, "By their nature, introverts tend to get passionate about one, two, or three things in their life ... and in the service of their passion for an idea, they will go out and build alliances and networks and acquire expertise and do whatever it takes to make it happen."
Aside from focusing on their creations, introverts have the ability to sit in solitude for hours at a time.
This means that they have the space to calmly think through the next moves for their business, instead of becoming distracted with social interaction or other attractive short-term business goals. This ability to hyperfocus on your most meaningful goals is particularly important if you're starting a business while keeping your day job, because how you utilize your time will very quickly become what defines your level of success (or failure).
Extroverts often need to be surrounded by people to thrive, which gives them less time to sit with their own thoughts and build a well-researched, comprehensive plan of action for achieving their business goals.
Introverts are also better, in general, at listening to and empathizing with people, according to Fast Company.
These skills come in handy in business situations. When a client, employee, or customer is upset, an introvert tends to be much more sensitive to his or her needs. Instead of reacting quickly to an issue, introverts take in the information, and then think critically about the best solution possible. In a way, this ability is one of the most important people skills you can master throughout your career.
When introverts are in charge, customers, employees, and clients are more likely to be heard and able to get their issues solved.
Along with being great at listening, introverted entrepreneurs are always looking for the best solutions, and are much less likely to allow their egos cloud their judgment.
When trying to build a profitable business, it comes in handy to have the most talented people on your side. Waylae Gregoire of NextShark wrote that while extroverts want to promote their own business plans, "introverts focus on the thoughts and actions of others. As an entrepreneur, introverts are naturally accustomed to analyzing the ideas of others, offering thoughtful feedback, and organizing what others bring to the table."
The best leaders -- the best people -- have the ability to admit when they've screwed up. And it's just as critical to be able to see things from another person's perspective when they make a mistake.
Introverts aren't afraid to admit their failures. If you can say that you were wrong about an issue, you're going to demonstrate to clients, employees, and customers that you're human, and that you make errors from time to time. Nobody wants to work with or under a boss who doesn't have the ability to see his or her own flaws.
If you're an introverted entrepreneur, there's an incredible amount of hope for you. Even if you're not outgoing or completely comfortable in social situations, you can still be a strong leader and achieve your goals by pushing yourself to become comfortable with these situations.
Just ask the countless introverted entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses.