How do you overcome being an introvert entrepreneur, especially when it comes to marketing your business?
After all, generally, the very nature of being in business as a photographer usually demands that you are present at social occasions, and not just present but absolutely LOVING it- because how can you NOT love something that is so intrinsically part of your business?
But… the only thing is… sometimes, there is just this voice, isn’t there?
This little voice that says/ screams from within that says ‘Hey… I’m not actually enjoying this AT ALL’.
And actually, being surrounded by people may or not be enjoyable for you, but it’s the little parts of business that sometimes make you sit and wonder whether you’re really cut out for this, right?
The marketing. The networking. The small-talk at shoots and at events. Even PHONE CALLS can cause a bit of panic mode to creep in (or in my case, a lot). Those face to face meetings. All of it, for the true introvert can equal STRESS CENTRAL and as for enjoyment? That would be somewhat of a BIG FAT OVERSTATEMENT.
Here is my not-so-secret-secret- I am a massive introvert.
Nobody EVER believes me.
Why? Because I don’t come across as shy and quiet.
As if those are the only qualities that make up an introvert!
An introvert – is this you? – purely and simply, just doesn’t get their energy from being around people. As my husband likes to tell me ‘you just hate people’ which is entirely untrue, it just means I would absolutely one million per cent, rather stay in and read a book than go out and party with a room full of strangers. I would rather go to a restaurant than a bar, hen-dos of the traditional kind literally make me cringe, meeting new people makes me shake on the inside.
I know, right? LOSER!
And perhaps the saddest part of this is that I actually used to believe that about myself!
That because I hated going out, would rather stay in, and would rather wilt in the corner of a party than actually go and say hello to people, I actually felt like a big social loser.
I’m not saying you feel like that at all, and I actually pray to God you don’t, as for so long I tried to fit myself into other people’s standards and ideals of fun and pleasure. (Now, I very happily embrace the fact I am a complete nerd and this website wouldn’t exist without it so… those university party-free nights obviously paid off somewhere).
But the point is- if you are an introvert, in business, you probably wonder from time to time how this is holding you back.
You know you should be marketing more. You wonder if you are saying or doing the right things at client meetings. Perhaps you wonder too much what people are thinking of you. You wonder if you really should be arranging meetings with the Influencers and cool people in your industry. Networking your ass off. Giving out your business card to people like you give out handshakes (not that I give out many of those either – STAY AWAY FROM ME GODDAMNIT I’M AN INTROVERT!!!!!!!)
You get what I mean.
IS your introversion holding back your business?!?!
And my answer might surprise you.
Because I am going to tell you this.
Yes, absolutely your introversion is holding back your business.
Because you are letting it.
Ever heard that ‘thoughts become things?’ I think I first heard that in the movie The Secret (which I highly recommend as an introduction to the laws of attraction and how they work, by the way).
Well, I realised something after about a decade in business as a photographer who outwardly was doing great but who was dying a little death on the inside every time I had to rock up to a wedding or a shoot.
I realised that because my introversion had been such a focus of my attention for literally, YEARS- the comments about always being the student who stayed in, being a boring child with ‘her nose always stuck in a book’, and ‘why don’t you go outside and play like the other kids?’ (er, because I don’t find jumping 6ft off swings and smoking cool)?I had kind of started using it as part of my identity, without even realising it.
I was hiding behind it as an excuse not to run my business the way I wanted to run it- because I thought that if I did, I wouldn’t gain business. I thought I HAD to do things ‘ the done way’.
IS your introversion REALLY holding back your business? Only you know for certain, but one thing IS certain; it will do, if you focus on it.
And the more you focus on it, the more aware of it you are, and the more aware of it you are as a ‘negative trait’ reinforced by probably a lot of societal conditioning, (which you probably ARE feeling otherwise you wouldn’t be asking the question about whether it is holding you back) then the more you focus on it as something negative, and so, like predictability itself, it then BECOMES something negative.
When the TRUTH? The real TRUTH about being an introversion in business? Is something entirely different and entirely more beautiful all together.
When you get over beating yourself up about not fitting into everyone else’s standards and start instead reflecting upon yourself as an individual with unique strengths, STRENGTHS LIKE INTROVERSION- you get to start creating a business that makes you HAPPY – in ALL aspects.
When I finally REALISED what a waste of time all of my FEAR had been and how much it had been holding me and my business back, it was a night / day difference for me.
Let me spell this out for you.
Again, in case you didn’t get it.
Introversion is a STRENGTH, not a weakness. So play to your strengths! Just like any great sportsperson, you don’t get great at something by focussing on your weaknesses do you?!? So you have to change the way you think about it- and it certainly ISN’T a weakness in fact I LOVE being an introvert and as I have already mentioned this website almost definitely wouldn’t exist without it because I wouldn’t have spent over a decade of my life reading books and websites and doing courses all about marketing and growing a business!
And then remember that YOU control your business. Your business is not like some great runaway minetrain with you tied on board like some helpless passenger.
This is your LIFE not just your business and you get to control EVERYTHING about it – the journey, the destination, everything.
Don’t like the view from the window? Change it.
I stopped doing face to face client meetings. In fact, I amended my email process so that generally, my clients booked without even having to meet me face to face at all until the day of their session, unless I decided I would like to meet them. I took my phone number down from my website as I hate phonecalls with strangers and nothing kills me quicker than small talk. I delegated a loud shouty wedding guest to call for guests for the group shots so I didn’t need to raise my voice. I stopped attending networking meetings all together and it was like angels singing to me. Seriously. Why on earth did I EVER think that was going to be a good idea??? I stopped doing in-person print sales. Hallelujah. In fact, I stopped doing almost everything that I was ‘supposed’ to be doing to run a successful business.
I got SELFISH – completely entirely selfish, and decided to take the whole of Saturday mornings and into the afternoon, away from my family and even guests we have staying here with us – no matter what, I make sure I have the ‘me-time’- that quiet time for reflection and solitude and peace that us introverts love and start to wither without.
I started to bring out all of the parts of me that I LOVE, the parts of me that thrive BECAUSE of my introversion- the reading, the writing- and created my books, my website, and through that I was able to work with clients that I truly love and barely ever feel conscious around. I will happily jump on a call with them any day of the week! Of course, I feel drained afterwards, because I pour my heart and soul into those calls and I work HARD to get good results so then I go and sit by myself and read and immerse myself in solace until my energy levels lift again.
When shooting weddings I realised I loved having a 2nd shooter with me to help direct, liase with the clients, and ease the pressure off. As an extroverted introvert I can happily socialise and chat if I need to- and do it brilliantly, which is why nobody ever believes me when I say I am intro- but the thing is I don’t LIKE to.
And that is ok. BEING WHO YOU ARE IS OK!!!
In fact, it is better than ok.
Especially when it comes to marketing your business. The internet is marketing HEAVEN for introverts!!! (If you want specific strategies start with growing your email list, blogging/content marketing, facebook ads, facebook groups for starters)
So in answer to the question how does being an introvert hold your creative business back–
It will hold you back- if you focus on it as something that holds you back, and something to hide behind. Why not try EMBRACING your introversion instead and creating a business that works on YOUR TERMS, not what somebody else’s idea of a business SHOULD look like?
Why not instead view introversion as a strength?
As a way of attracting clients who are also introvert and marketing to them specifically?
Or understanding that you can nail your marketing better than almost anyone thanks to the power of the internet?
Or realising that being an intro gives you absolute bona fide excuse to take some very deserved relaxation time on a regular basis?
Or realising that your clients might hate the exact same things that you do- small talk, face to face meetings, etc – which give you an extra advantage as you create your business to reflect primarily your needs but also scoring big for them?
Can you be selfish enough to demand that you take whatever it is that you need to in order for your business to grow? Whether that is time, or new processes, ways of doing things and working that work for you and support you and your energy levels?
And can you answer the really tough question – are you WANTING your introversion to hold back your business?
because to actually remove this part of your identity, this part of yourself that you have clung to for so long, to remove it from your armour means that you no longer have excuses to hide behind and you have to actually GO OUT THERE – in your own, beautifully introverted way, of course- and make this happen for you?
Because that’s for so long, what so many of us do. We might be introverts, extroverts, live in the wrong area, have no money, aren’t educated enough, etc etc etc. We hide behind an identity that isn’t even our own, cultivated through years of society telling us what to do, how to behave, and formed through our deepest experiences and fears.
Avoiding doing the work necessary to make your business to succeed in the way that you want it to by calling it ‘introversion’ is simply avoiding the work, whether that’s through fear or other causes (though it’s usually fear based in what true success and wealth might mean for you).
Because any good entrepreneur will tell you that there is ALWAYS a way to do something – so the real question here perhaps isn’t
‘is being an introvert holding back my business?’
‘Why am I hiding behind introversion as an excuse not to do what I need to do?’
You can create the business + life that you dream of, whenever you want to. So when are you going to start? How many more excuses do you need to clear out? And how can you make time to nurture your introvert and create a business + life that makes YOU– in all of your perfect introverted glory– THRIVE?