Estimates suggest that introverted people make up 25-40% of the world. Whether you take the high or low figure there, we can agree that introverted people certainly count. It stands to reason that there are introverts in every section of the world, including business. While there is a prevalent misconception that introverts are not equipped for the business world, nothing could be further from the truth. However, the business world does value qualities largely more often associated with extroverted people. It doesn’t mean introverts can’t succeed in business, there are just a few things you need to be aware of to succeed in business as an introvert.

Make sure you’re an introvert

This may seem a little weird, but it’s important to make sure you’re an introvert. There are a lot of things that look like introverts when they are, in fact, not. Anxiety, for example, may leave people feeling better off spending time alone or not going out much, but this is not introversion. So make sure you’re an introvert. This has been important for me in my life because people who know me will swear I’m not an introvert based on my personality and outward behaviour. While you’re at it, also make sure of what type of introvert you are. Yes, there are types of introverts. 4, according to this video.

Embrace it

The next thing to do is to embrace your introverted self. Some things that may seem strange to some people work for you. I remember with one business I was involved I always tried to schedule a day break between client meetings, so at least one day between meetings. This is because, as an introvert, I didn’t have any problems dealing with customers but found those interactions depleted my social battery. So I needed rest in between to perform optimally. We are not always this fortunate in business. However, what comes first is understanding ourselves as introverts and embracing ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, introverts actually have great business strengths. For example, introverts are stars at managing relationships in the long run.

Design a business around you

I mentioned before that I took an approach of a day break between client meetings. That is certainly one expression of designing a business around you. Another quality many introverts relate to is working well alone. This is extremely challenging for me when I have to work in office environments. However, when it’s your own business, you have a little more flexibility in this regard, and you should make use of it. Strip down your business tasks and optimise. Many meetings could and should be an email. Many tasks are made complicated due to unrefined processes.

One on One

This may not apply to all introverts, but I have found it has power if utilised. If you’re an introvert, people close to you may see you as what’s called a shrinking violet; you are bright and beaming in a one-on-one interaction but quickly disappear in a crowd. While it seems like introverts struggle with people they do not know, the bigger problem here is the number of people. You will find introverts are very good at building quick rapport with people in one-on-one interactions. Take advantage of this and try to get as many one-on-one interactions with staff, clients, suppliers and stakeholders as possible.

Recharge time

This is a principle I learnt from health and fitness. The usual thinking is “rest when you are tired”, and the smart thinking is to “rest before you are tired”. The best way to rest before you are tired is to make rest part of the plan. For the introvert, it’s not so much physical energy but rather social energy. When running a business, you will have to interact with people, so you will have to put the time in to recharge your social batteries before they deplete. You may want to skip Friday nights out and have a night in. Maybe a quiet night midweek or one day of the weekend in nature. It’s different for different introverts what helps you recharge.

Introverts are not ill-equipped for business but simply differently equipped. While introverts may not excel at selling their products to everyone on the kombi they will succeed at relationship management. Understanding this and being an introvert will help you find your way in business.