Promoting myself is awful. Networking events are not giving me any energy.
These are not the words that you would expect from a person that thrives on entrepreneurship. The fact is I am an introvert, and I am proud of it. I lack the confidence to introduce myself to strangers at networking events. Even in small groups. Small talk is not for me. Self-promotion is even less for me.
Growing up in a small sea resort close to the southern tip of Africa did not help a lot. We were seven pupils in grade one, twenty-five in total in primary school. I believe I was the luckiest child. I had the freedom to explore the immediate world around me on my terms. Quiet spaces surrounded me. Everything and everybody was known to me.
An ambition to achieve more was driving me, going faster, and becoming better at what I’m doing. Still, my Calvinistic upbringing taught me to keep quiet, listen, and obey. It suited my introvert nature extremely well.
For secondary education, I attended a boys school with more than 400 pupils about 200km from my home town. This unfamiliar environment did not assist me in making new friends. It was hard. But my ambition to excel in sport and academia pushed me forward. I always wanted to achieve more and do better. Working hard was my way of hiding. Although I tried to avoid the attention, I loved the recognition. (Irony?)
My analytical brain was perfect for a career in engineering. Solving problems in a structured manner, excited me. Again, I excelled in what I was doing. While I love interacting and working with other people, it drained me.
I thought that hard work, being smart, and conforming to the norm will unlock my dreams. How wrong was I. Without the confidence to promote myself, I got stuck, not able to move forward. However, my passion for finding new ways to unlock value in a technology centered world screamed to get out.
So, I started my own business. I wanted it to be a fairy tale — the next big thing. I cleared the first big hurdle by getting funded. Well-funded. We were excellent in developing the product and underlying technology, the next big thing. It was extraordinary. We used the latest artificial intelligence technology.
And then I got stuck. It was easy to talk about the features of our product, but I had no idea how to articulate the value and benefits. Identifying the customers and developing strategies to get to the market was not as straight forward as I thought. Going out to meet new people and attracting attention to our business did not come naturally. Being an introvert didn’t help.
I knew I had to start learning the rules of the game. If I wanted to be successful, I needed to change my strategy. FAST.
This blog is for ambitious persons with an entrepreneurial spirit lacking the knowledge and confidence in making their dreams a reality.