Introverts can be extraordinary entrepreneurs. Here are a few personality traits that set them apart from their more outgoing counterparts.

Introverted Business OwnerOne summer while in college I took a sales job to pay the bills. I was painfully shy and terrified of the prospect of meeting new people, but I needed the money and decided to give it a try. Making those first few contacts was difficult, but after a few hours I realized that not only was I a decent salesman, my introversion gave me a unique edge that actually made me more successful. I found that once I got through the initial introduction, I was able to connect with customers on a deeper level, better understand their perspective, and deliver a level of service guaranteed to generate word-of-mouth referrals.

Focus on the Customer’s Needs, Not Yours

As a consumer, how many times have you bought something and immediately regreted it? Some salesperson hit you with an aggressive pitch in a moment of weakness and now you’re stuck with something you didn’t really want. The sales rep may have met his performance quota, but now every time you use that product you feel resentful and swear you’ll never return to that store. He didn’t care about your needs – he was only thinking of himself.

Tip: On a customer’s first visit, focus less on ticket size and more on connecting them with a unique product they will love and tell their friends about. You’re building a relationship, not cashing it out.

Listen More, Talk Less

To succeed as a small business owner, you have to understand customers’ goals and dreams, and then deliver products and services to make those dreams a reality. While an extraverted individual might be good at influencing others, your brand and long-term business viability are at stake if sales efforts don’t include a good amount of listening. An introvert more innately understands customers’ feelings and points of view. This leads them to better gauge when customers are pulling away or not interested, and find ways to move the discussion to more fruitful ground.

Tip: Instead of immediately pushing something on a customer, take a step back and listen longer to their needs before making a sales pitch. You might make an even bigger sale.

Extroverts Start Relationships, Introverts Maintain Them

How often have you heard someone say “I’m shy, but once you get to know me I’m the life of the party.” Introverts often find that the process of initiating a new relationship can be exhausting at times, but once the dialogue is underway they’re able to have extremely rewarding interactions with people. This is a wonderful trait in an entrepreneur, because in many business settings customer retention is much more important than customer acquisition. Introverts value their friendships, and can find creative ways to maintain relationships and show that they are sincere.

Tip: Take a break from worrying about customer numbers and focus on quality. Look at a few current customer relationships and brainstorm some creative ways to go above and beyond to serve them. The goodwill it generates will be well worth the cost.

It’s easy to assume that in order to be successful in business, you need to have a certain personality type. This is not true! There are just as many types of business owners in this world as there are types of people. The key is to develop a business pitch that is genuine, connect with people on a meaningful level, and deliver real value.

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AvatarDave Cannon

Dave Cannon is a social entrepreneur based in the Pacific Northwest and contributor to After attending the BYU Marriott school he co-founded and raised over $100,000 for, a microenterprise e-commerce platform.