My Business is Not a Girly-Man

Nobody likes to admit they have weaknesses, let alone explore them in depth. This is especially true when it comes to starting a business. How are you ever going to get off the ground if you’re not putting up a strong front?

The rub is that in order to truly give off a vibe of strength, you have to first address your weaknesses. Not that I have any, but I’ll pretend for the sake of this post :).

Inspiration for This Post

This post by Monica O’Brien at Twenty Set is the first in a series about entrepreneurship. She talks about addressing personality weaknesses in regards to your business in three steps:

  1. Discovering your personality type by taking the  Myers-Briggs personality test
  2. Identifying your weaknesses
  3. Brainstorming ways to overcome those weaknesses

Step One: Test Results

I am an INFJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging

  • distinctively expressed introvert
  • moderately expressed intuitive personality
  • distinctively expressed feeling personality
  • very expressed judging personality
  • Wow! The in-depth description I just read (here, if you’re really interested) fit me to a T (or an INFJ). It basically said that I like to make people’s lives easier and that while I can hang solo or in groups, I prefer to work 0ne-on-one to effect change.

    The INFJ personality type often is able to express well through the written word and is a natural fit for inspirational professions, such as teaching or counseling.

    Step Two: Main Weaknesses

    While I can appear to be extroverted, I am really an introvert.

    While I do enjoy spending time with others, I am much more likely to burn out from too much social interaction than I am from too much alone time. So working for myself, by myself is probably good for me.

    However, it can be too easy to get lost in my own thoughts and to become too self-reliant. I can’t answer all of my own questions or solve all of my own problems, but being introverted makes it hard for me to reach out.

    I can withdraw from even my most intimate relationships to recharge.

    This means that even my favorite people can’t get through to me sometimes. I don’t want them to feel neglected but I really only relax when I’m fully alone.

    Potential problems could arise in dealing with clients and colleagues; my need for downtime may not fit their schedule or other needs.

    Inner conflict between dreams and ideals and need for practicality.

    I have this little spot by my right shoulder blade that likes to tell me when I’m being too left-brained. I’m so good at analyzing and organizing and planning that I often neglect my creative side. This can lead to a lot of imbalance and internal stress, especially because I really consider myself a creative person first and foremost.

    Step Three: Solutions

    Extrovert/Introvert

    I think overcoming this is about effective communication. First, communicating to myself that it’s okay to be introverted even if others think it’s odd. Second, communicating to others that my introversion has nothing to do with them.

    Withdrawal From Relationships

    I love my close friends and family, but I need to withdraw from them on a regular basis to maintain my sanity. I can see how this may be interpreted as insensitivity, but in fact it is because I am so sensitive.

    Spending time with others requires a great deal of emotional energy from me, because I am so empathetic and a natural giver. To be able to have a quality presence in others’ lives I need to have more downtime.

    What does this mean for my business? I think I need to focus on having more email than phone conversations, as I can be more in control of how much time they take. I also probably need to have a ratio of more proofreading/editing tasks than project management tasks.

    I also need to let my clients know that what they may see as aloofness is actually how I give myself the means to do my best work.

    Dreams/Practicality

    Having an objective side is what makes me so great at making other people’s lives easier, but relying solely on that side means I am missing out on creative solutions and growth.

    I need to nurture my creative side more and continue to instill it’s importance in my thinking. Reading, writing, cooking, daydreaming—these are all important for my health and the health of my business.

    * * *

    I’m feeling stronger already! Maybe I can skip the push-ups today. . .

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