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How to build an introvert-friendly online business

Regardless of what type of business you own, you need paying clients. That’s a given. But when you are an introvert with a new online business, you also need to figure out how to go about doing that in an introvert-friendly way.

Otherwise, you’ll struggle and burn out. And that defeats the purpose of starting your online business in the first place.

So what does it look like to run an introvert-friendly online business?

 

In my opinion, it’s about balancing respect for the introvert IN your business AND strategic actions required to grow your online business. It can’t be one or the other.

Let me explain what I mean.

Introverts experience energy drain from too much stimulation. In particular, too much “people-ing” drains us. We are naturally more inwardly focused. We listen (often to what’s not being said). Being internal processors, we need time to contemplate, organize, and prepare our thoughts and ideas before we extend ourselves outward. That’s why many of us work best alone and uninterrupted before we collaborate. This gives our responses and creations depth.

While these factors contribute to our introvert strengths, they can also be perceived negatively as stereotypes.

Sometimes introverts themselves can make the mistake of falling back on those stereotypes to avoid doing what is necessary to reach out to potential clients.

If you find yourself saying or thinking something related to your introversion that drains you and ultimately feels like self-sabotage, I’m talking to you!

 

It’s easy for an introvert to cringe at a lot of the business advice out there. And it’s easy to feel pressured and overwhelmed by it too.

Why?

We prefer individual or small group conversations versus large networking events. We need solitude for our well-being. We value privacy. We require time to process our ideas. We prefer that our work speaks for itself. We don’t want to feel like we’re forcing ourselves onto people or into their space. We don’t necessarily measure our success in terms of “go big or go home”. We don’t need to be front and center.

That’s why it can sometimes feel like WHO we are runs counter to much of what is required of us in putting ourselves out there to attract the customers we need for our business to succeed.

So a natural reaction to the expectations (and aspirations) that seem much more extrovert focussed – especially in terms of visibility and self-promotion – might be to:

    • resist and pull away into the comfort zone of our home office, closing ourselves off to others, and deciding not to take action in our business until it feels right.
    • overthink the options, feel the fear of having to put ourselves out there before we’re “ready”, and then we get stuck in inaction (which feels mildly comfortable except we begin to feel trapped and ashamed).
    • push ourselves because we have been told we “should” choose a particular method for visibility, and take the leap before preparing ourselves or having support. Then, when we don’t get the results we wanted, we interpret that as reinforcement of the fact that it wasn’t worth doing in the first place. And then we retreat and get stuck in analysis paralysis.
    • have the intention and commitment to take action but have so much swirling around in our mind that we convince ourselves that we don’t know what to do next. This fuels our self-doubt and further depletes our energy.

Can you relate?

Now don’t get me wrong. Introverts are not all the same and I don’t claim to be the voice of the introvert online business owner. The point is that we need to understand ourselves and treat each other with respect as unique and capable individuals. Negative stereotypes and pressure to be something that we’re not doesn’t help anyone.

 

So the challenge for the introverted online business owner is to find that balance. Respect your introversion AND find ways to connect with potential clients in a non-icky way that works for you.

 

Learn from others. Listen to advice and strategies. Experiment. And then tweak everything to make it work better for YOU. Knowing and respecting your introvert strengths, and then trusting yourself, is a significant part of your job as you build an introvert-friendly business.

It takes time to figure out how to make your new business work in an introvert-friendly way that doesn’t feel manipulative and frustrating to you. And it takes time to earn clients and generate consistent revenue.

Being your own boss is not for the faint of heart. It takes vulnerability, commitment, courage…and action. Every single day!

That’s why I believe that it’s important to run your introvert-friendly online business with an ebb and flow. Inward. Outward.

We can learn how to find a rhythm to include both clarity and courage so that you can build your confidence as a successful online business owner.

That leads me to an invitation for you.

 

Be Your Own Business BESTY touchpoint tool

During Wise Introvert’s Be Your Own Business BESTY 5-day challenge in September, we practiced using 5 personal touchpoints so that you can balance respect for the introvert IN your business AND strategic actions required to grow your new online business. Even though you might have missed out on the challenge, you can still put the BESTY tool to practice on your own.  Download it today by signing up below.

 

YES, I want to use the BESTY touchpoint tool!

 

Entrepreneurship is not just for extroverts! You don’t have to fake it to have a successful online business!

Be Brave. Be Seen. Be True. Be YOU…and don’t forget your energy!

Be your own business BESTY!

Need help with decision making? Try this.

Need help with decision making? Try this.Do you find yourself circling around the same questions as you try to make a decision?

Introverts can swirl a lot of information in their minds and end up getting stuck in rumination. Here’s a question you can ask to help with decision making when you don’t know how to decide.

Think of how many decisions you are in the process of making right now about your life and work.

Many will be complex and important for various reasons. So it’s no wonder we can take a long time to reflect in our attempt to make the “best” or “right” decision.

Decisions merit thoughtfulness. The problem is when we get stuck in the thinking and unnecessarily delay getting into action.

In the meantime, we see other people doing what we want to do, feeling how we want to feel, and enjoying what we want to enjoy.

I can get to that point too – sometimes delaying so much that I decide not to decide, yet still can’t let the question go from my mind. So there isn’t a sense of resolution. And for me, that becomes an energy drain.

At some point, it’s simply time to decide.

And that’s why I appreciate the question that Matthew Kelly shares in his book, Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction.

“How will this help me to become, or hinder me from becoming, the-best-version-of-myself?”

I love this question because it requires inner work. It taps into values and priorities. It avoids comparison or reference to “should”. It’s a different way to tap into our inner knowing.

And, if we believe that our purpose in life is to become the best version of ourselves, then this question gets to the heart of the matter. It’s deeper than, “Will this make me happy?”, or questions of a more logical nature.

Few of us will make every single choice in a way that helps us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves. We are human after all and sometimes superficial desires, habits, fear, or compromise will win out (like eating the brownie that I’m craving despite the fact that I know I won’t exercise to compensate or staying quiet when I have valuable feedback or ideas to share).

But, in asking ourselves Kelly’s question, at least we can make a more conscious choice. And that’s powerful.

GIVE IT A TRY. Ask yourself this question as you decide to decide. Let me know – did it help with decision making?

Introvert Wish: Stop Comparing Myself

Introvert Wish: Stop Comparing MyselfI wish I could stop comparing myself to extroverts and embrace ME. That’s what a Wise Introvert newsletter subscriber wrote to me. It’s a wish that speaks to the heart of my work with clients because it involves being Brave, Seen, and True.

Comparison can feed the underlying belief that, “I’m not good enough as I am”. It touches on a tender spot that many of us share. And it can surface in the most unexpected ways.

Take this past weekend for example. I was in “soccer mom” mode, cheering for my daughter’s team in a four-day provincial tournament. After one of the games, she said to me very matter-of-factly, “Those are REAL soccer moms.”

Want to know what the “REAL soccer moms” were doing? The absolute opposite of me! They were VERY loud, constantly talking or yelling, blowing a loud horn, jumping around, and actively interacting with others on the sidelines. Hard not to notice.

Yes, I felt a sting from my daughter’s casual statement. It wasn’t her intention to suggest that I don’t measure up, but that’s what I heard. I felt smaller.

I don’t know for sure if those moms were extroverts (introvert soccer moms can be vocal too), but that’s the judgment I made. They were not like me. They were better. More fun. 

WHETHER IT’S IN OUR WORK OR PERSONAL LIVES, ALLOWING OURSELVES TO GET CAUGHT UP IN COMPARISON CAN BE LIKE CHOOSING TO NEVER WATER AN INDOOR PLANT. LITTLE BY LITTLE, THERE’S A WITHERING AWAY.

So it’s important to catch yourself in the act and shift the momentum by actually saying (out loud or in your head): Stop comparing myself.

And then add a bit of water. Be kind and embrace the real YOU.

The fact is that I felt as proud and invested as I believe those other soccer moms were. I simply expressed it differently. And that’s perfectly fine. There’s room for all of us.

Be Brave. Be Seen. Be True.

Celebrating Introvert Power with the Quiet Revolution

Wise Introvert & the Quiet RevolutionWhen Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution team invited me to be one of their Quiet Ambassadors, I’m not gonna lie: my heart fluttered.

That’s because, not only is Susan Cain a respected trailblazer whose work has personally touched me (and countless others) when it comes to a broader awareness, understanding and acceptance of introversion (you’ve probably read her best-selling book, Quiet, and seen her powerful Ted talk by now), but also because it meant that my own commitment to taking daily steps to be more Brave, Seen and True, despite the fear and uncertainty, actually manifested in ways that I could never have imagined just over a year ago when I started Wise Introvert.

I was consciously choosing to be/do ME, in my own introverted way, and in the process, kindreds actually saw me. It felt validating.

To me, a sense of belonging is one of the most important aspects of Quiet Revolution, the new online community co-founded by Cain and created to connect and empower introverts around the world. And it’s one of the reasons why it’s time to rethink quiet.

Because as much as introverts need solitude, we don’t want to feel disconnected.

And while many of us have spent too much time and energy trying to fit in, pushing ourselves to do what we had to (or thought we should) in order to gain success or approval, fewer of us have found real belonging ~ where we can be ourselves and have our value acknowledged and embraced without having to justify or defend it.

This deep acceptance is both an inside and outside job. As introverts, we must learn to let go of the comparison that leads to judgement, shame, and the fear that we don’t measure up. We have to love ourselves and claim our own value as much as (perhaps more than) we need the outside world to value us.

It’s on both of these levels – inside & out – that I believe Quiet Revolution can inspire significant change in the world ~ one person, one organization, one design, one policy, one choice at a time.

My own search for belonging began long ago and continues today.

Now in my mid-forties, I have lived much of my life feeling like an underdog, outsider, or rebel (but what I have rarely felt was “normal”). At times it has bothered me; other times not.

As a kid, I remember feeling special and powerful. Full of confidence, I knew I was meant for great things and this made me a natural leader with high expectations of myself (and others). Independent and comfortable as a bit of a loner, I had a small group of friends and was considered popular, but never developed deeper lifelong connections.

School was most important to me, not because of the social aspects (I didn’t even go to my high school grad), but because I loved learning and succeeding in an academic environment.

At university, I felt at home in the lecture hall or seminar room – thinking and learning and being inspired by my professors. I also loved becoming totally consumed in research and writing.

People had little to do with my measurement of success. It was my perceptions, analytical thinking, insights and written communication – the real inner me – my way of “seeing” and expressing which could never be duplicated – that was most valued.

Out in the “real world”, I didn’t feel the same level of control or confidence. That’s because the rules had changed and succeeding had become more focused on social interaction and approval.

It wasn’t the inner me that was as important anymore, it was about how well I could conform, get along, persuade, and impress. More than delivering quality results with humility, much of the time success was measured by social performance.

Over the years, I’ve felt torn by the feeling of being an outsider, wondering how much I really wanted “in” – and when I was inside, feeling like I was performing in order to stay there. I learned how to play the game to my benefit. I just wasn’t always sure that I wanted to, knowing it would come at a cost.

Looking back, it is evident that I have lived much of my life in fight or flight mode. That has led to significant energy management challenges which seemed to become more apparent as I aged. So too was my unwillingness to invest so much energy into trying to fit in.

Attempting to be something that you’re not is exhausting.

And that’s what eventually led me to starting Wise Introvert.

I was ready to invest in my own definition of success again, based on who I am and what works best for me, and step away from “the performance”.

It reflects my personal commitment to Be Brave, Be Seen, Be True. In doing so, I aspire to help other introverted women to do the same – creating change from the inside-out.

What if…

we could find our own right way by honouring who we are and trusting our intuition to guide us toward living more true (whatever that looks like for each of us)

AND

by doing our part to be authentically seen, we would be WELCOMED in ‘as-is’ by the open-hearted (introverts & extroverts alike) who truly recognize our value.

Then, we could all prosper together. Imagine how that would feel! Imagine what we could accomplish!

That would require us, introverts and extroverts alike, to rethink quiet.

Too many negative stereotypes and misconceptions about introversion persist. It’s time to question, learn, connect, and move beyond so that we can co-create a world where everyone belongs, no matter what makes us different.

Introverts are not defective or of less value.
We’re wise, powerful, and worthy!  

“Unlocking the power of introverts for the benefit of us all” is an intention that I whole-heartedly believe in. I hope you will take this opportunity to celebrate the launch of Quiet Revolution, embrace your quiet strengths, find your tribe, and add your voice.

To start, here are three posts that really resonated with me:

Also check out the Quiet Revolutionaries section (stories by readers who embody the spirit of Quiet Revolution: “strong yet gentle, firm but kind, they are as indomitable as they are unassuming”) – why not submit your own story?

And add an image to the Quiet Revolution’s visual project on Tumblr, answering, “Why does the world need to rethink quiet?”

Be Brave. Be Seen. Be True. Be YOU ~ and become a part of the Quiet Revolution! Help create a world where introverts are celebrated for their valuable contributions and, more importantly, for who they are!