Introvert Entrepreneurs and External Affirmation

Giff Constable customer development, lean

The Wall St. Journal published a piece today on “Why Introverts Make Great Entrepreneurs.” There are a lot of interesting points, but one section got a rise out of me.

“They don’t need external affirmation,” the piece reads. “They generally don’t look for people to tell them whether an idea is worth pursuing. They tend to think it through before speaking about it to anybody, and rely on their own judgment about whether it’s worth pursuing.”

This comes close to saying that introverts have an advantage because they stay inside their own head. Needless to say, as the author of Talking to Humans, I think this is very dangerous.

First, you don’t ask people whether they will like your idea. You dig into their needs, their behaviors, and their motivations. Then you can decide whether your idea might fit their needs. Once your product is actually in their hands, then you can ask if they like it.

Second, as an entrepreneur, you don’t want a market of one (yourself). You need to get outside of your head and into the market. It is *how* you get into the market where introverts have a bit of an advantage.

Once an introvert forces themselves to recruit and interview people, they can be a little bit better at shutting up, asking questions and listening not talking. But introverts (and I am one), don’t get too cocky. I have seen the most introverted scientist types turn into rabid pitchmen when excited about their own idea.

Listen and learn.