I support introverts to create introvert friendly business. But what the hell does that even mean. What is an introvert friendly business?
Well I am still working that out, no less so in my own business than my clients. I think it will always be a work in progress, as I learn and see more introvert businesses in action.
However, I already know there are some elements that are the basis of an introvert friendly business. As with all things in business there are continuums here. You can have some but not all of these elements and have a pretty good business for introverts. Put all of them in place you have something pretty special.
These are the elements that I see as the basis for an introvert friendly business:
01. Allows you to manage your energy.
There are lots of scientific definitions of introversion and extraversion. I like to think of it in terms of where our energy comes from. Are you energised by being with other people and lots of activity? Then you are more likely an extravert. If you need quiet time to recharge then you are more likely an introvert.
If you are an introvert, what that means is you need to build a business that has quiet time built into it. Time for reflection and creating. If you have built a business that requires constant contact with people, networking, calls etc, then you are probably going to struggle or find that you have no energy left on the weekend to do fun social activities with friends.
It is possible to build a business that doesn’t require this. That allows you that quiet time to think and take a step back from connecting with people. The following elements are fundamental to doing this.
02. Your social energy is used for maximum effect.
I would love to say that you can use all your social energy on working with clients but the reality is you need to market your business and be visible. It is just that you need to make sure that when you expend that social energy you it is in a way that gives you the maximum benefit.
If you work directly with people then some of the energy needs to go there, making sure your clients get the best of you. Not only because we all want to do the best for our clients. Delivering the best experience possible is one of the easiest ways to generate word of mouth sales. One of the most introvert friendly ways of making sales.
You are also going to need to use your energy for marketing and being visible. Working out which marketing leads to the most sales allows you to direct your energy there. The catch being it also needs to be sustainable. If you are getting all your sales from doing daily Facebook lives but they are just exhausting you then it is time to start testing out different marketing methods.
Your marketing needs to be effective and sustainable.
If it is effective but exhausting your will burn yourself out. If it is sustainable but ineffective you are going to go broke.
Start tracking where your leads come from so you get a better idea of where to put your effort.
03. Good boundaries are in place.
I know from personal experience that things have gone particularly pear shaped when I haven’t had good boundaries in place.
These boundaries can relate to clients and potential clients. Some of the boundaries I have put in place around clients and potential clients are:
- Limiting the days I am available for calls. This gives me clear days for working on my business, creating content and doing client work without any distractions.
- I have my calendar booking system set up so only so many people a day can book a call with me. I can vary this depending on how I am doing. If I am having a period where I feel overwhelmed I may have things set up so only 2 people a day can book in with me. Whereas if I am tracking well, I may set it for 4 or 5.
- Having contract clauses that say I will reply with in 48 hours during business hours. I am not saying that clients don’t try and push this boundary and I can answer quicker if I want to but I don’t feel obligated too.
- Asking clients to contact me via email rather than messenger as I get much more anxious about messages and calls than I do emails.
It is not just client boundaries though it is also what I plan each week. Recently I had a week where I not only had quite a few personal social events on and client calls but I also had a coaching call, a podcast interview and I went to a networking dinner. I was just exhausted at the end of the week and it took me a good few days to recover.
It made me realise that I can’t schedule that much socialising and expect to be productive. I either need to not schedule this much or I need to plan down time where I am not required to do anything for a couple of day after. I need to guard my time much better.
04. Systems to support boundaries.
As a reforming people pleaser, I find boundaries difficult to enforce. It is much easier though when I don’t need to get personally involved and the boundary is just automatic. It is all about using systems to help you reinforce your boundaries.
The calendar booking app I use is a classic example of this. As I mentioned above I can set it so only so many people can book a call in a day. It also allows me to block off days that people can book. Rather than having a negotiation via email about when I am available I simply send them a link to my calendar.
I also use systems for tasks that make me feel uncomfortable. Like asking for testimonials and referrals. I have template emails set up and they go out as part of my workflows in my client management system. I don’t have to think too much about doing them – they just happen.
Systems aren’t always your friend though. Sometimes they make it to easy to contact you. I have recently deleted messenger from my phone as the notifications where making me feel antsy. Plus unlike email I couldn’t flag them and didn’t have a system for managing them so I was always worried I would forget to reply if I didn’t answer immediately. I am slowly trying to educate my clients that the best way to contact me to make sure they get a reply is via email or via the project management system I use.
It is all about using technology to support you in a way that works for you.
05. Mindset that this is possible.
There is so much information out there about building a business. A lot (and I mean A LOT) of it is aimed at extraverts. Just reading about how much you have to be out there makes me feel like I need a nap. And if you actually follow that advice, then there is a good change you will end up with burn out.
I promise you don’t have to follow this advice to be successful. I find the best way for me to work on this mindset issue is to surround myself with role models. Introverts who have successful created businesses. Luckily this is not as hard as it may sound once you start looking. More and more there are introvert business owners out there talking about their introversion in their own quiet way.
- Nicole McDonald of January Made Design
- Ruth Poundwhite
- Heather Thorkelson
- Tara McMullin of What Works
- Eli Trier
- Harjit Sohotey of Jewelled Buddha
- Jenny Shih
- Hailey Dale of Your Content Empire
If you feel like your business has turned into your frenemy rather than your friend, it is time to start making some adjustments. Some small steps that you can take now to make your business more friendly towards your introversion are:
- Set up a way to start tracking where your leads are coming from. If you do things like discovery calls, start asking people how they found you and make a note.
- Take half an hour out of your week to work out what you would like your ideal week to look like. When would you take calls and how many would you like to do each day.
- Pick up one of the introverts I have mentioned above (or my business :)) and check out how they run their business.
- Take my quiz to find out how introvert friendly your business really is -> click here to get started.