I’m known to be incredibly social. I’ve never had a problem walking up and introducing myself to someone at a party or conference – I just pull up my big girl pants and do it. After over a decade working in the restaurant industry, it’s hard to be shy. But what most people don’t know about me is that I’m a fierce introvert.
I actually don’t like meeting new people.
I cringe when I have to cold call someone.
I hate sales emails, follow-ups or conflict.
I can’t stand small talk. Unless there’s tequila involved.
I’m very selective about who I spend my time with.
And the idea of spending the weekend home alone with a bottle of wine and a good book is my idea of a rousing Saturday night.
Hi, I’m Kristy – a small business owner, food blogger, actress, novelist, cookbook author, writer and photographer, pig lover, Ghostbusters fanatic… And I’m an introvert.
Being an introvert in business has actually helped me build my brand, grow, and create a sustainable + generous income in ways that I’d never expected.
So in an effort to show you that you aren’t alone and inspire you to chase after your dream – even if you’re an introvert – I’m sharing 4 ways I’ve used my introversion to help grow my business from zero to hero (all with $70K in debt with no savings and in a city where I knew no one!) and live the lifestyle that meets my need for speed.
And by speed, I mean nature. Sunshine. And all the good things in life that happen outside business hours (and yes, as an entrepreneur, I have business hours… More on that in an upcoming blog post).
1. Keeping My Eye on the Prize.
It was my desire to limit the experiences that make me uncomfortable that actually drove me to start Peppercorn Creative.
I didn’t go to school for business nor did I have big plans to work for myself as a kid. In fact, I didn’t have big plans to work for myself until I was 2 weeks away from working for myself.
When I started Peppercorn Creative, the business served as a solution to the “I don’t want to work a Monday to Friday 9-5 job and I’m too old for that late-night bartending shit” problem.
I gave my notice at the day job I had, hunkered down, focused and read everything I could on entrepreneurship and the branding & design industry. I kept my eye on the prize!
Do or do not, right…?
Sure, I had a food blog for 3 years leading up to it and I did mess around with computer hacking when I was a teenager, but before I went all self-education-on-your-ass, I didn’t have a background in any of the services I was offering. I learned it myself. For hours, days, nights and months. And then eventually I was able to charge a decent rate for what I was doing because I actually knew what I was doing.
Since it’s inception, Peppercorn Creative has blossomed into a passion and a love and something that truly helps my clients. It’s fulfilling and I’m so grateful for it.
And I was able to accomplish all my success because of my introvert nature – I focused, learned and absorbed every piece of information I could. And continue to do so even now.
It also makes me a killer copy writer and editor because I’m constantly researching and learning new industries and I see so much copy. I know what converts and what doesn’t – what sounds delicious and what sounds bland as calf liver.
This challenges me, as well as lets me stay up to date with the most relevant and important strategies which translates into services that deliver real, tangible results for my clients.
2. Grow Like A Weed (in a good way).
Being an introvert has allowed me to offer incredible value to my clients in ways that others in my industry don’t.
For example, many blog and website designers don’t really listen to what their clients need – just what they want. And then they waste hours creating a design that looks nice. But “looks nice” doesn’t get the client the results they’re expecting.
As an introvert, I don’t feel the need to talk all the time, so that makes me a great listener. That means I can better address client concerns and create solutions for them because I can really hear and understand their problems. I can create something that both looks nice and helps them meet their goals and objectives.
The value I offer clients BECAUSE I’m not blabbing on and on about my services and how amazing they are is often the very thing that lands me projects that are successful.
I take the time to really hear what they’re saying and then create something that actually works.
I call this “luxury client service”.
Plus, once I do an amazing job and provide that added value of a real solution that meets their needs, those clients usually refer their friends and bam! I suddenly have new client prospects because of my introvertedness..
…Is that a word?
And that’s allowed my business to grow like a weed. But a good one. Like dandelion greens. Yum.
3. Networking Schmetworking: Relationship Building.
A certain safety comes from hiding behind the computer screen. This can have negative impacts like the trolls that seem to have annexed Twitter. But for us introverts, the comfort of not meeting people face to face every day is great news! We can do all our relationship building online.
Private Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, email – they all allow me to reach out, offer help, provide services and connect with others in my niche without ever having to leave the house. Half the time I’m even wearing my jammie-jams and no one is the wiser.
Besides, despite my un-shyness, in person networking events have rarely turned into anything fruitful for me.
It’s been my experience that 10 minutes and a business card do not a profitable business make.
However the amount of time I get to spend consistently building quality relationships via social channels has proven very effective in generating new client and brand partner leads, not to mention professional opportunities.
Relationship building. I’m all about it.
Imagine the possibilities!
Of course, it’s important for my humanness to go out of the house and meet people outside my own head from time to time – or else I start to go a little bit bonkers. Like today: I’m sitting in a coffee shop and even if I’m not engaging with strangers, I showered, got dressed and am surrounded by other people, not just profile pics of people’s heads. It does wonders for my mental health.
I also attend a monthly dinner thing with 3 other lady entrepreneurs in my city to help support each other in real life.
It isn’t about networking, it’s about relationship building.
4. The Communication Key.
The key to making introversion work for my business is communicating it with clients and what that then looks like to work with me.
I’m very upfront with clients that I’m an introvert and unless we have a very specific reason to jump on a phone call or a detailed agenda for a meeting, I’m unlikely to do so.
In fact, I do 95% of my communication online. And letting my clients know that up front is central to the success of my business. The one exception of course is with my mentorship & coaching projects – those require detailed audio to be effective. And I’m thrilled when I get to hear the excitement in their voices when they’ve landed their first big brand partner or dream client because of the work we’ve done together. I wouldn’t want to miss those moments!
Of course, if it makes design or copy clients more comfortable to have check-ins via phone, I’m happy to do so if they communicate that with me.
I’m sensing a pattern here….
I know some freelancers who insist on phone (or **GASP** in person) meetings because they feel it’s more professional. But if you don’t do well in those situations, why would you put yourself in them? It’s hardly professional to have your heart racing, your anxiety levels spike and be unable to focus on how you can best serve the client.
It makes way more sense for your sanity – and your success – to set and communicate boundaries.
Setting limits around how you’ll communicate, your hours and the kinds of meetings you’re willing to take will make you more successful AND make more dolla dolla billz show up in your bank account because you’ve optimized your processes and systems to help you provide services in the most fabulous way possible; you’re effective!
When explained in a way clients can get on board with, you may be surprised how many not only respect your honesty, but also align with your business model once they understand why you do it the way you do.
This allows me to thrive and grow my business or blog in a way that’s sensitive to my nature and work with clients who respect my workflow and trust that I’ll collaboratively do what’s best for them.
And I’m sure it’ll do the same for you.
Are you an introvert? Extrovert? What about that is a major challenge for you? How do you make it work for you? What else would you add to the conversation? Leave a comment below or please shoot me an email and tell me! I wanna hear from you.