Introvert’s Revenge: How Shy, Retiring Types Can Crush It as Entrepreneurs


Yes it is true – some of the most successful people are introverts.

It’s well known that many people who pursue artistic pursuits are introverts.  Think of these actors: Audrey Hepburn, Glenn Close, Richard Gere, Courtney Cox, JK Rowling, Christine Aguilera, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, and Julia Roberts.

All introverts.

Think of personal growth and human potential gurus who strut around the stage like show ponies such as Bob Proctor and Tony Robbins.

Both introverts.

But what about  business people?  Aren’t entrepreneurs naturally extroverted?  Try these for size:

Bill Gates Is An Introvert

Gates is awkward socially – hardly the life of the party.

Warren Buffet Is an Introvert

Buffet is a quiet guy who likes his own company.

Mark Zuckerberg Is An Introvert

What can I say?  A brilliant entrepreneurial nerd with a talent for making money, but a died in the wool introvert, nevertheless.

Steve Jobs Was An Introvert

Despite his public profile Steve Jobs was essentially an introvert – an anti social guy who did very little socializing away from his business.

But being the driven, obsessive and complex personality that he was, he did whatever he had to do to make his business super successful.

What Is Introversion?

According to Mr Self Development introverts and extroverts gets their energy in different ways:

“The introvert charges his battery privately from the inside out, while the extrovert charges her battery publicly from the outside in.”

The classic extrovert displays different behavioral patterns compared to introverts.  For instance, introverts tend to be great listeners when compared to extroverts.

Introverts are different in other ways……

Introverts love deep and meaningful conversations whilst the extrovert often has the attention span of a gnat.

Introverts also will have a small and close circle of friends whereas the extrovert usually has loads of friends and looks forward to making new friendships every day.

Some say that the extrovert is better at talking and communicating but this is not necessarily the case. Introverted New Yorker journalist Malcolm Gladwell observes that speaking on stage “has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”

Because many introverts are great actors they can project very well when they are ‘on’.  But once the task has been completed they’ll typically go into their shell so they can recharge their batteries once again.

In the business context the successful entrepreneurial introvert is often very good at masking their true personality.  Many of their colleagues and customers are completely unaware of the true state of affairs with their business associate.


Myths About Entrepreneurial Introverts 

At the risk of contradicting the headline for this article, it is a fact that some mistakenly think that an introverted business person is by definition a shy, retiring type who lacks assertiveness.

On the contrary, the most successful entrepreneurial introverts have loads of drive which in turn gives them the fuel to assert themselves so they can get the results they crave.

Remember, these people only want one thing: results.  The result is the only thing that counts for them, and they will do whatever it takes to get it, even if they are fundamentally introverted.

Vocationally Extroverted, But Socially Introverted.

I remember well what one of my early sales mentors told me about himself.  He said ‘I am extroverted vocationally but introverted socially’.  This guy was a brilliant salesman and coach, but away from the work environment he retreated into his shell, seeking the company of his wife and one or two friends.

Entrepreneurs who are successful have two sides to their personalities.  Vocationally they are extroverted because they HAVE to be – the results they crave will not happen unless they are influencing stakeholders, including customers, to see things THEIR WAY.

But away from the business spotlight, they will retreat into their shell, happy with their own company and perhaps the company of a few close friends and family.

The Winning Edge For Entrepreneurial Introverts

Here is where these folk shine:

They Are Good Listeners.  Introverts are invariably very good listeners.  By contrast the extrovert often gets impatient with too much listening – a cynic would say it’s because listening to others takes the focus from them.  In the business context this can be a boon for introverted entrepreneurs and sales people.  Customers love it when someone listens to their problems and tries to solve them.

Introspection Gives Them Greater Awareness and Insights.  Introverts score an A for introspection, which in turn can give them an edge in terms of understanding the key issues facing their business.  It also helps with the formulation of new strategies designed to move the business to higher ground.

Introverts are often good at lateral thinking and because they often do spend a fair amount of time thinking, they can come up with interesting left field ideas and ways to solve a problem or exploit a new or untapped opportunity.

Are You An Introvert? 

Take the test!  Is this you?

  1. You Love to Spend Time Alone
  2. You Feel Awkward in Groups
  3. Going to a Party or Other Social Event Is Like Water Torture
  4. You Avoid Small Talk and Rarely Initiate It
  5. Your Best Ideas Flow When You’re Alone

How did you go?  If you answered YES to two or more of the above points then congratulations – you’re officially an introvert!  So move on and discover some simple ideas to help you prosper and grow as an introverted entrepreneur.

Maybe You’re An Ambivert

Many people are a combination of both introvert and extrovert.  They exhibit patterns of behavior that indicate they have what might be termed a blended personality.  The Ambiverts oscillate between needing his/her own company to being social and outgoing depending on the situation and circumstance.

These people are fortunate in that they can draw on a wider range of skills which often gives them a tangible and valuable advantage in the marketplace.

How to tell if you’re an ambivert?  Ask yourself this question: where do you get your energy from?  People or solitude?  If the answer is ‘a bit of both’ you’re probably an ambivert.


Which Personality Type Are You?

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal the writer quotes speaker, author and coach, Beth Buelow.  Buelow has become somewhat of an authority on Introverted Entrepreneurship and has developed a quick checklist for the different behavioral types:

The Ambivert

— Socially flexible — comfortable in social situations or being alone.

— Skilled at communicating — intuits when to listen or to talk.

— Moderate in mood — not overly expressive or reserved.

— Adaptable — no default mode, so they change their approach to fit the situation

The Extrovert

— Energised by external stimulation — with people, environment, activity

— Processes thoughts while talking

— Motivated by external rewards, recognition and feedback

— Outgoing — easy to get to know

The Introvert

— Energised internally, while being alone

— Craves solitude to balance out social time

— Speaks only when they have something to say

— Thinks before speaking, processing thoughts internally

How to Crush It As An Introverted Entrepreneur

 Network As An Introvert.   Rather than pretend to be the life of the party, do what you do best – connecting with people one person at a time.  Take a long term approach and build strong deep relationships with the people who count.  Of course many introverts are uncomfortable initiating a conversation (although once the conversation begins you will probably be fine).  If this is you, grab a cup of coffee and make a physical movement towards one or two people who are doing the same.  Natural conversation will usually flow from there.

Polish Your One On One Skills.   Even though you’re a great listener you should put extra emphasis on your problem solving skills.  Doing business is all about identifying problems and solving them, therefore you are probably perfectly placed to hone your skills further.

Maximise Your Leadership Skills.  An introvert will typically feel quite comfortable with creating a space and encouraging his employees to fill it with their own ideas and initiatives.  This can create a great working environment by bringing out the best in people.   In Hollywood introverted actor/director Clint Eastwood is known as a director that actors love to work with.  He deliberately creates a collaborative environment which fosters creativity at a high level.

Not all introverted entrepreneurs are collaborative.  Some are tyrants who lack empathy – they can have a nasty anti social streak which really comes to the fore when they are under pressure.

Speak to Groups.  Contrary to popular opinion introverts can be quite effective when talking to groups.  (In fact it is a paradox that many introverts feel more comfortable speaking on stage than they do speaking one on one with people they don’t know.)  Treat it simply as a performance, nothing more.  Actors have mastered this ability to project a persona that is often at odds with their real personality.

Even if you don’t relate that well to people one on one, by talking ;to groups you’ll be leveraging your time and also enjoying the added benefits of having people look up to you, who in turn will perceive you as an authority  – a respected person who is worth doing business with.  Your enhanced posture will encourage prospects to reach out and approach you about your product or business.

Take Regular Time Out.  Recharge the batteries when you need to – take time out away from people on a regular basis.  Keep this point in mind: extroverts get energy from people, whilst introverts get energy from alone time.

Leverage the Internet.  Introverts are often good at writing and content creation (which could include video and audio content); therefore it makes sense to leverage the internet by creating a blog for instance.  Another option is to create content for other blog owners which in turn will expand your reach and market place posture.

Partner With An Extrovert.  Introverts often work very well with extroverts, and vice versa.  The extrovert instinctively knows that the introvert can provide balance to a business by introducing a different slant to the key problems the business faces.


Popular perceptions are that successful entrepreneurs, marketers and sales people are always extroverts.  But as you have discovered, this is not necessarily the case.  Indeed around forty percent of business folk tend to be introverts.

Irrespective of whether you are an over the top extrovert or an awkward introvert, the fact remains that the key determinants of success will always revolve around passion, work ethic, drive and business acumen.

Your Turn – Time to Comment!

Are you an introvert, extrovert or ambivert?

What type of people do you love to work with?

Make a comment below!

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20 thoughts on “Introvert’s Revenge: How Shy, Retiring Types Can Crush It as Entrepreneurs”

  1. Hi Kim,

    I’m definitely not an introvert. In fact, I’m probably an extreme extrovert, lol…

    One of the things I’ve learned about introverts, and your list of entrepreneurial introverts points this out, is that they are very detailed, thoughtful and purposeful.

    Whereas extroverts just go with the wind… lol.

    I use the DIS personality profile as it has helped me see the big picture of the two different types of extroverts and introverts how they relate to one another. Not sure if you’re aware of that particular personality profile test?

    Your post reminds me that there is always a lot of different ways to help us get where we want to go. We are only limited by our knowledge, experiences and stubbornness. Understanding our personality means we can learn how to use it to our advantage even if one is an introvert.

    Great post Kim!

    I hope you have an awesome week!

    ~ Don Purdum

    1. Ha ha – you’re right Don!

      You’re an ‘out there’ extrovert. Love it.

      When I see an extrovert in action, I sometimes think to myself ‘how the heck can I compete with that!’ But somehow I muddle through. In fact, as I was just saying to Adrienne Smith (in the comment above), who is an Ambivert, my best collaborations have been with extroverts. We need each other Don!

      But seriously, the world of business works better when different personality types balance each other.

      I haven’t had any experience with the DIS system, but am very familiar with another profiling system which I still use to a certain degree today. There are 6 personality types with the system, and I think you are a Mover/Politician (loves people/loves to win). I am an Artist/Politician (creative/loves to win). Adrienne? My lips are sealed. ha ha

      Keep on rockin’, Don!


  2. Hey Kim,

    Well I’m definitely an ambivert. As I was reading through this I already knew that I actually was a little of both.

    I’m VERY outgoing and can adapt to any situation but I LOVE being alone. I guess that’s because I have been alone the majority of my life that I’m just used to it and I like my own company.

    I’m a very good communicator and of course I prefer chatting with those who aren’t afraid to speak either. But I’m always there to help those who are overly shy and just need that little push.

    I had known that a lot of successful people were actually introverts but I think that success is just something that drives them so they will do whatever it takes.

    This was an interesting post, thanks for sharing this and now I guess I have a new term for what I am. LOL!!!


    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Yeah, I had you figured as an Ambivert. A balanced individual, no doubt about that.

      I’m polar opposite – essentially introverted, but I hate being alone! Go figure.

      An early mentor of mine was also an introvert. One day when he took me out on a sales call he talked about this issue. He said his core was introvert, but when he is in work mode, he’s a ‘screaming extrovert’!

      I love to be with extroverts because they provide something I don’t have. And, I think they get value from associating with someone like me too. My best collaborations have been with Extroverts, including the one I had with my late wife. It’s the yin and the yang, I guess.

      Thanks for dropping by, Adrienne


  3. Well helloooo, Kim.

    You won’t believe it but I answered yes to ALL your questions. I’m an incontrovertible introvert.

    You can imagine how fun I find it to stay alone, stay away from groups, get my best ideas when I’m alone, desist from starting small talks, love deep conversations, etc.

    And this classes me among those high-profile nerds? Whoopieeee.

    I love your analysis, Kim, and the proofs are just so strong. I doubly agree with your points.

    So, first time visiting and commenting on your blog and I’m leaving with one of the sweetest discoveries about moiself: I’m an introvert and introverts are more entrepreneurial than *extroverts*.

    Pardon me if I’m missing it all up, does this in any way indicate that extroverts can’t manage businesses? Of course I know you aren’t pulling an absolute on it, but any huge chance we would find great businesses run by extroverts?

    Thanks. And thanks for the comment on Sherman’s blog.

    Yusuff Busayo

    1. Hi Yusuff,

      Great to see you here!

      In business, there is room for both introverts and extroverts. They balance each other. The extroverts tend to be like the proverbial bull at a gate, whereas the introvert is more likely to think through the issues before taking action.

      I work great with extroverts, and many of them instinctively recognise their limitations and, therefore, seek out introverts. Or to put it another way, they look for the balancing attributes that only the introverts can provide.

      Onwards and upwards!

      Thanks again Yusuff



  4. Hey Kim,

    This is my first time to your blog, but I am glad that I came as this was a very interesting article.

    I am definitely a ambivert. I do like my alone time, but then I can also flow with the moment and be outgoing if I need to be.

    My best ideas come when I am alone, they just pop into my head and if I don’t jot them down somewhere, then they’re gone.

    But I can also be very anal when it comes to details. I guess that the accountant in me.

    Thanks Kim for sharing this article, I had never heard of ambivert before, but, it makes sense, not everyone is one or the other.

    I hope you have a great rest of the week!


    1. Great to see you here Rob

      And thanks for your comment

      Yes, I think most people are Ambivert – a little of both. Few are full on extroverts (thank God – I would become a total recluse if that was the case!), and only a minority are introverts.

      Interesting to see that your background is accounting, yet now you are into design. I wonder what Carl Jung would say about that!

      Anyway, thanks for your comment.


  5. Hey Kim,

    Well you learn something every day! I just discoverd I’m a Ambivert!

    Excuse my ignorance but I’d never heard of the term before but on reading your excellent post it soon became bloomin’ obvious what personality type I am.

    I love meeting and engaging with new folks but I’m also very much at home on my own, in my own little part of the universe so to speak. I enjoy both types of experiences.

    As a sales manager and a marketing consultant, I enjoyed (and was very good at) public speaking but I also relished the quiet times alone where I could reflect on things going on around me – or just spending time reading a book. Love those times.

    I actually enjoy working with anyone who is interested in trying to help themselves – personality types don’t come into for me. If you’re commited to your success then I’ll be more than happy to work with you.

    By the way your list of introverts was fascinating especially that long list of famous hollywood actors. Amazing to think about.

    Thanks as always for your superb share mate – loved your content.

    All the best from a very hot Thai village


    1. Hi Ambivert!

      Actually, most people are ambiverts. They have two sides to their personalities. So I guess this means you’re a well-balanced individual, Peter.

      On the hand, I am a bit of a fruitcake – a cake with lots of nutty bits too.

      In the overall scheme of things personality profiling has zero impact on our type of business, but it can be useful when hiring staff, etc.

      Other than that, it’s a bit of fun and nonsense. A talking point at dinner parties and BBQ’s

      Thanks again, Peter


  6. Hi Kim,

    Interesting topic of discussion 🙂

    I loved all that you mentioned about being an introvert and an extrovert, and you are right, they both have their pros and cons. No one is better than the other, it’s just the different type of people we come across in our lives, and what type we are.

    I think I fit into the ambivert kinds as I have the qualities of both kinds – I can be alone and not be bothered by it, though when the time comes to become an extrovert, I really don’t mind being one. Out of choice, I prefer being a quiet person working, or more of an introvert I guess. And I can work with both, introverts and extroverts with ease, as being an ambivert, I can understand both the natures well 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your weekend 🙂

    1. Hi Harleena

      Yes, it seems that most people are Ambiverts – they display some extroverted tendencies when they need to, but also are quite happy with their own company and can entertain themselves for hours or days without needing any human contact. Few are outright Extrovert or Introvert.

      The Ambiverts are the balancing stabilisers in society. Without them we’d have a lot of extreme personalities floating around, causing havoc!

      Thanks for dropping by again Harleena


  7. Hi Kim,

    Well – you’ve confirmed what I thought. I’m a definite introvert – but it was very encouraging to read your list of successful introverts.

    I also appreciated your tips. Some of them I already do – such as recharging my batteries alone, and enjoy writing – but others are new ideas for me to implement.


    1. Welcome, Joy – I’m an introvert too!

      That said, I still love to talk to interesting people

      There’s room for all personality types. Each contributes something to this crazy old world we live in

      Thanks for dropping by


  8. That’s a pretty awesome assessment Kim!

    And while I’m not totally sure which specific personality type I am.

    One thing is for sure, whatever it is, all of those super successful
    personalities have, I definitely wouldn’t mind it one bit,
    if some of it were to come my way!LOL!

    In fact, I’m not even sure it really matters what you label what it is they have?

    Because either way, they are driven like nobodies business!LOL!

    But I love the way you’ve so accurately pinpointed the various personalty types and
    their various combinations!

    I guess, to a point, we’re all a mixture hybrid of the two major ones. Thanks for sharing another very insightful post!

    1. Hi Mark

      Great to see you again here!

      You are right. In the overall scheme of things, it doesn’t matter what personality type you are. If people have abilities plus drive, determination and persistence they will succeed.

      That said, as a keen observer of people (been doing it all my life), I find it helpful to quickly form a view about the person I am dealing with. From that point, I can adjust the way I communicate to suit. I’ve lost count of the number of sales I’ve made over the years as a result of using the technique.

      Anyway, the main thing is that this post got a discussion going. No bad thing.

      Thanks again Mark


  9. Hi Kim,

    Interesting post! cleared few of my misconceptions about Introverts, your myth point is so true, “Remember, these people only want one thing: results. The result is the only thing that counts for them, and they will do whatever it takes to get it, even if they are fundamentally introverted.”!

    So true but I think it is more of kind of balanced relationship between Introverts and Extroverts, that make introverts achieve the “results”, to explain this balanced relationship, think of how one shoots an arrow from a bow.

    If the world were only made up of introverts, the arrow would be cocked and ready to be fired, but the shooter would always be recalibrating and aiming the arrow before it ever took flight.

    And if the world were only extroverts, the arrows would be flying every which way but never hit any targets. It would be absolute chaos. Thus, the world needs those who can aim, and those who can let go.

    So good Introverts know how to connect with their opposite types in harmony, in a balanced way to achieve results! I believe without that connection, that harmony, balance chaos will be the only outcome!

    What you think ?! Would love to know your take on this further!

  10. Hi Kim,

    As I read this article I was silently smiling as this is article is probably the only one which speaks good about Introverts.

    And I agree to most of your points here. I am an introvert yet I love to speak on stage and have been an event organizer and MC for many events in my college. And not to boast but I have won almost all speaking related competitions I have ever participated in. Which comes as a surprise to my extrovert friends.

    And also my idea of a weekend is either to watch a movie, read a book or go on long walks alone or with one or two close friends.

    1. Hi Imran

      Introverts rock!

      Yes, many introverts are great at projection, that’s why they make good presenters, actors, entertainers etc

      Great to hear of your success as a presenter – you’re a natural!


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