As a product-based business owner, you are the face of your business. You know your line better than anyone else and are ready to chat up buyers + retailers about your awesome assortment of products. As an introvert, though, chances are you will find needing to be so “on” all the time exhausting. Running a business as an introvert comes with its own set of challenges because our natural tendencies don’t always align with how our extroverted clients + customers think.
While it’s tempting to sit back and hope that people will find you and purchase your products, you know that your business and marketing strategy is what sets you apart from the competition. For many introverts, all the “look at me and my business” talk can leave us ready to run for the hills. If you have ever struggled with finding a balance between putting yourself out there (because you know you have to) and staying true to your introvert roots, then today’s post has your name written all over it.
I spent nearly a decade in sales, so naturally, people thought I was an extrovert. In reality, I was an introvert living in an extrovert's world. As much as I could turn it on, I found myself always counting the minutes until I could sneak away. I was thrust into a world of extroverts and had to learn how to adapt for the sake of my career.
I had to teach myself how to turn it on because it wasn’t something that came naturally to me. I fought through tears and fear to find a way to balance what needed to be done for business because it seemed to always conflict with my true introverted qualities (like my ghosting habit — so not business appropriate). I’ve been in the position of having to sell and promote a business as an introvert so today, I’m sharing 10 of my best tips + tricks to help you run your product-based business as an introvert!
1. Schedule time to decompress
With #AllTheThings on our plates, it can be challenging to find time to take a step back and relax. As introverts, though, we NEED this downtime to recharge. Embrace the space you need to think through all those ideas swirling in your head and process the world around you. By scheduling time for yourself, your days and weeks will have more of a flow and you’ll find more clarity and joy.
2. Practice your pitch
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had full on conversations with myself in preparation for a big meeting. Since introverts are naturally more comfortable observing and listening, it can feel a bit uncomfortable when you are the center of attention and doing all the talking. By thinking about potential talking points in advance and actually saying them out loud you’ll feel more prepared to be in front of an audience. This type of prep work is especially helpful when you are planning to exhibit at a trade show or craft fair. Since these events mean you’ll be having lots of one on one conversations with strangers, you’re going to want to be prepared in order to sustain a day's worth of chit chat. One of my favorite strategies for keeping the conversation flowing is to turn the conversation back to the buyer by asking a few simple questions. This way you’re still driving the conversation but your buyer is doing a majority of the talking, allowing you to listen and absorb information. My go to question? A simple, “How’s business?” or “Tell me about your business” will always do the trick!
3. Embrace solitude
As introverts, we thrive on alone time and love it. Some of our best ideas come to us when we’re in the shower, taking a walk or listening to music alone in our office. It’s amazing what a few hours alone can do for you creatively and energetically! Just because your other entrepreneur friends are having co-working dates at the local coffee shop doesn’t mean this is the best approach for you and your business.
4. Do what you love and outsource the rest
Since an introvert’s drive and motivation tends to come from within, we don’t necessarily need to be interacting with people to be our best selves! We’re so skilled at being able to concentrate for long periods of time, and we can use this to our advantage and really focus on the areas of business that bring us the most joy. If designing is what lights you up and selling leaves you drained, why not consider hiring a salesperson or partnering with sales reps? Maybe shooting the images for your Instagram feed gets your creative juices flowing but responding to comments and requests leads to overwhelm. If so, look to bring on a social media manager. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you have to do it. Find what feels good and hire others to do those tasks that tend to leave you feeling drained.
5. Have a power outfit
Whether it’s a meeting with a buyer, having a coffee chat with fellow business owner or attending a local networking event, you should have something in your closet that you're excited to wear for those times when you know you have to be on. You know that feeling when you’ve just gotten your hair or makeup done and want to go out and show off how hot you look? A great outfit will give you that same type of feeling. Plus, having an awesome outfit is a natural conversation starter. As introverts, chatting someone up and having a bit of social anxiety is a very real struggle. A great outfit can be the perfect conversation starter because you’ll undoubtedly receive a compliment or two! While compliments aren’t totally our thing, when you start thinking about them as more of an icebreaker you’ll begin to feel more comfortable receiving them.
6. Create your own communication strategy
As introverts, keeping in touch isn’t necessarily our strong suit. It’s important to recognize that many people don’t operate this way and some people may view your lack of communication as a lack of caring. By putting a strategy in place you’ll find a balance which will allow you to better communicate with your extroverted clients + customers. Introverts are known for their listening skills and that’s what is going to help you learn what your clients and buyers are looking for, along with what’s going on in the marketplace.
There are lots of different ways to communicate with your clients + customers and show them some love without having to have an in-person conversation. You may want to consider:
Blogging: Every product-based business should have a blog! It’s great for SEO, builds brand awareness, encourages engagement and will help you get noticed, which inevitably leads to more sales! Your customers + clients love to learn about you and your business so make it easier for them to stay connected by keeping content fresh.
Writing a newsletter: Create a newsletter to keep buyers + customers up to speed with everything new and exciting that’s going on in your business. The key here is to send it with personalization, so your buyers + customers feel like you’re speaking directly to them. It’s always nice to land in their inbox just to say hello and not ask for an order.
Sending snail mail: Everyone loves receiving mail that isn’t a bill! Sending a card on special occasions (think birthdays + holidays) shows your buyers that you are constantly thinking about them (even if you don’t chat every week). These little touches only require some additional information gathering and a scheduler.
7. Step outside the (in)box
As an introvert, it can be tempting to divert all conversations to email. While this method of communication is great for some things, it’s really important to keep in mind that email isn’t appropriate for all situations and some people simply respond better to a phone chat. Try scheduling blocks of time during your week that are reserved for these types of calls. Follow that up with something that allows you to decompress like some light design work or reading a good book. When you find the strategy that works best for you, suddenly these necessary tasks don’t feel like they are stealing away all of your energy. You may also find it helpful to set reminders in your calendar for weekly or monthly to check-ins and follow up with certain clients. This way they feel appreciated and you aren’t stressed by added/unnecessary communication.
8. Don’t let likes and follower counts stress you out
Because we aren’t super social butterflies we may not have as many social media likes, friends or followers compared to our extroverted friends. While you might be afraid that you won’t be as successful as your extroverted counterparts because you don’t have as many connections or followers, in reality, the friends and followers you do have are uber connected to you because you’ve found your own secret sauce for nurturing them. Nurturing these relationships on your own terms is what sets you apart and that love and support will be reflected in your loyal fans, followers + customer base.
9. Get Creative with your promotional strategy
A lot of times when we think about self-promotion, we automatically think about those icky-feeling in-person networking events. If the thought of trying to explain your business to a room full of strangers leaves you slightly nauseous, have no fear! There are other ways to promote your business and products that don’t involve shaking lots of hands and do involve wearing yoga pants. One of the most AWESOME things about owning a product-based business is that, for the most part, you can let your products do the talking! (insert yoga pants wearing happy dance here!)
Instagram is the perfect platform to get you in front of the right audience and let your products speak for themselves. When you focus on creating awesome imagery, your photos will tell your brand story for you which means you can respond to comments and chat up strangers from the comfort of your couch or favorite coffee shop.
Guest Blogging allows you to reach a new audience while giving you the opportunity to share your story in writing. This will feel a lot easier compared to trying to tell it in person!
Pinterest is the bomb.com when you own a product-based business. Similar to Instagram, you can let your products speak for you. Pinterest is known for its traffic driving abilities and consumer purchase power so make the most of this platform!
10. Get your (digital) networking on!
We live in a digital world that is tailor made for introverts! Facebook groups and comment threads are the perfect places to meet new friends and interact with fellow small biz owners, makers and creators. It’s so much easier to periodically pop into your favorite feeds compared to taking the time to attend an actual event (which you’ll probably consider skipping multiple times before walking out the door anyway) where you end up being pushed into chatting for the sake of “connecting” with someone that is inevitably a poor fit or is only interested in selling something. #exhausting.
When we choose to network online we can control the types of conversations we engage in, which allows us to weed out any small talk/topics we don’t find or exciting or beneficial. When we can pick which topics and threads to participate in we can actually walk away feeling energized rather than drained.
Running a business as an introvert comes with a lot of trial and error, but you can feel confident that regardless of your approach, when you promote your business in a way that feels authentic to you, you’re going to end up feeling much happier and more fulfilled instead of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.