Even with all the attention being placed lately on the power of introverts, I know that for some readers here, the above title may still seem a bit strange. After all, it runs counter to what is happening around us.
There is no escaping the fact that we live in a noisy world where collaboration rules the day, where many of us are comfortable instantly, and often publicly, sharing our lives with others. Underlying this trend is a social pressure encouraging us to constantly seek stimulation, to be loud and be a part of the action. In this environment, we are expected to contribute our ideas, thoughts, and beliefs practically on-demand.
If you don’t do these things, then it can feel as if you don’t exist.
This attitude remains deeply entrenched in the business world, too. Conventional wisdom suggests that lone wolfs, those introverted individuals who prefer solitude and often work alone, would have a difficult time as an entrepreneur. But outside of the bubble of over-stimulation, a list of wildly successful, lone wolf entrepreneurs are silently shaking their heads at us. This is a list that includes such all-stars as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Guy Kawasaki, Elon Musk, and Mark Zukerburg.
The Case for the Lone Wolf Entrepreneur
Here are four convincing reasons why lone wolfs make good entrepreneurs, sometimes better than their socially-connected, extroverted counterparts:
1. They are independent thinkers. Because lone wolfs are not as concerned about what others think about them and their ideas, they are free to see things differently and to recognize inconspicuous patterns. They also have the courage and conviction to develop creative solutions. This is an incredible strength for an entrepreneur to have, as comedian Bill Cosby once quipped, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that they don’t ask advice or collaborate with others. But they carefully consider and weigh this advice instead of automatically adapting to it, and they choose their co-workers and collaboration partners more wisely.
2. They take calculated risks. Because they spend more time contemplating how their business is currently performing and what they want to accomplish in the future, lone wolfs tend to be more careful in their business decisions and are much less likely to take big, outlandish risks.
3. Their leadership style suits start-up. Recent research suggests that introverted individuals tend to make better business leaders than their well-connected, extroverted peers, particularly in uncertain environments. A lot of their success has to do with the fact that they give more freedom and encouragement to proactive employees. That is a quality which comes in handy as an entrepreneur employing others to build up a new business.
4. They hold themselves accountable. Lone wolfs bear the weight of their decisions on their shoulders. If they make a mistake, they are more likely to take the time and effort to figure out what went wrong and learn from the experience. They can then use what they learned to make better decisions in the future. On the other hand, when entrepreneurs are used to constantly working in collaborative groups, it can be much easier to spend the time after a major flop just pointing fingers at the other people involved.
So, does this mean that social butterflies are doomed as entrepreneurs? Not at all. But, there is certainly a lot that can be learned from the successful lone wolfs among us.