Attending conferences can be a highlight of anyone’s professional career, especially considering they are opportunities to gather with hundreds, if not thousands, of likewise-focused individuals from all over the spectrum in your sector. After all, how often is it we get the chance to totally immerse ourselves in the newest innovations and philosophies of what we are committed to over the span of just a couple few days? But, the most important value of attending any conference is undoubtedly the opportunity to network in your field and make meaningful connections when you do it.
But I ask, why wait? If you know there is a conference you will be attending in the near future, why not set yourself up for success early by taking the following steps to preempt new connections and start networking even before the event?
Do your research.
The best way to get started on networking like a pro is simply studying the program. Note the names of the speakers who will be delivering talks you want to attend. Begin reading up on their body of work. In other words, delve into their content, which could include anything published and any podcasts or interviews available online that they feature in. Check out their websites and become a follower of their social media accounts. Also make note of any companies and organizations that may have representatives at stands and really any potential attendee you would hope to meet.
There is also immense benefit in discovering more about the general location of the conference. Chances are you will find interesting features, such as any new openings and the region’s best restaurants. Look out for any outdoor activities, cultural sites or museums available in the area. These can all make for potential talking points and, better yet, could serve as possible joint field trips to propose on the sidelines of the main event.
Plan for it.
Start by scheduling into your calendar all of the talks and events taking place at the conference that you might want to attend. You can color code each event according to topic or precedence and use an organization tool such as your Google Calendar, Calendly or Zapier to integrate all contact info. Social CRMs such as Getdex.com are great tools to organize info and alerts such as when to call or contact someone. Regardless of how you choose to file your info, you will want to have a system ready to be able to input contacts and follow up on them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Contact speakers and attendees early.
If there is someone you want to meet, then there is no better introduction than letting them know beforehand. Don’t leave a networking opportunity up to chance, as it may be hard to connect with others on the spot and especially difficult before and after they present. Contacting a speaker or fellow attendee early via an e-mail or social media message is a great way to start the networking process and give you more chances of actually getting noticed among the audience. Tell them the reason you are looking forward to attending their talk and compliment them on their work that has inspired the connection.
The same goes for potential attendees you would hope to meet. Why wait and see if they are actually going to attend? If you want to meet them, then just get the ball rolling and let them know. Ask if they will be attending, and see if you are interested in similar talks or activities in the program to create the opportunity to meet in person. If they don’t happen to be attending this particular event, then see if they do plan to go to any others. This way, you can use the opportunity to contact them again in a similar fashion, prior to the future event.
Schedule a meeting.
This is where that calendar you prepared of all talks and events scheduled in the conference program comes in handy. Because the next best step you can take to secure any networking opportunity is to actually schedule one. If there is someone you know you want to meet, then why not just bite the bullet and ask them to meet with you? Most anyone would welcome an invitation for a coffee, lunch or even dinner, especially if you say you heard it was the best in town!
Refer back to your research and see if you have any shared interests, such as surfing or golf, and look for commonalities, such as being vegan or having children. In other words, ask the potential new contact on a playdate in which you get to do something fun as a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of the main event.
Host a party or adventure.
One of the best ways to remain memorable is to go big and actually organize a party. This can be in the form of a dinner with a select number of guests at an esteemed restaurant or a full-blown influencer party at the hippest venue in town. You could hire a guide and create a tour of a nearby historical site or maybe organize a moonlit boat trip. The choice is yours. But I do believe that if you bite the bullet and splurge on making new connections, then the rewards will be returned to you multifold.
There is no better feeling than having quality shared experiences with others. To do so, you just need to give some effort to help secure strong connections. The bottom line is showing your interest in others is the way to have people return it, which in essence is what the whole goal of networking is.
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“Do not work for ‘climate wreckers,’” UN Secretary General António Guterres told new university graduates recently in no uncertain terms. Survey after survey shows that sustainability has become an important factor for employees when choosing roles. HSBC found that "companies who balance people, planet and profit are reaping the benefit when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best talent," while IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that "more than two-thirds of the full potential workforce respondents are more likely to apply for and accept jobs with environmentally and socially responsible organizations."
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, employers have been grappling with the “great resignation” as employees evaluate their goals and values. Today, businesses need to work hard to gain and retain talent. As a startup operating on a blank canvas, it’s the optimal time to make your business resilient by building it around sustainability principles.
Here are some tips on how to go about it from my own experience of building two successful startups before the age of 30.
• Start with a vision.
Today, your organization is small and nimble. Yes, you are already spinning too many plates (I know I do), but now is your chance to put in place the right structures, mission, values and processes that can help you grow into a successful enterprise.
No doubt you have set your economic goals early on; however, have you looked beyond the spreadsheet and financial forecasts to the wider governance framework? How do you want your employees to feel working for the company? How do you want the world to see your company? What are your environmental, social and governance goals? The business plan is just the start, and it’s never too early to build a solid corporate development plan.
• Take care of your staff from day one.
This doesn’t have to mean pool tables and a beer fridge (although those help, too). How many stories have you read over the years about hot-shot startup founders getting things very wrong with their leadership and staff management?
When I started my first business at age 16, I had no idea what it meant to be a boss. Yes, I read a few management books, but it was very much learning by doing. However, I knew even back then that people were my most valuable asset. Having a well-defined HR policy appears superfluous when you have one member of staff, but it’s important not to miss the boat when business momentum picks up.
• Reinvent the office.
As a fresh entrepreneur, chances are you consider your office more as a state of mind rather than a traditional brick-and-mortar place. Starting a business where flexible and remote working is the norm from the beginning means you are able to build a culture of belonging even if there aren’t any “watercooler moments.” Equipping your team with the necessary tech to work wherever they are also means you can build resilience into your business with a solid business continuity strategy.
• Greenwashing is not going to fly.
Even if your business is not closely aligned to addressing climate change, thinking green across all business functions is a must today. We do need to adapt to climate change, there are no two ways about it. The time for talking, or even worse, for pretending, is over. The right talent will care for the environment and see right through any shallow promises.
• Choose your supply chain carefully.
Globalization has brought with it many benefits; however, convoluted, opaque supply chains have had widespread side effects in the form of environmental and human rights abuses. It’s time to think of your supply chain as an extension of your business and choose your suppliers wisely. Anything that you would not want to happen within your organization should not happen within a partner organization. Out of sight cannot mean out of mind. Building a sustainable supply chain is time consuming, but that's nothing compared to retrofitting it later down the line. Just ask any large enterprise scrambling to reach NetZero and meet ESG goals.
• Diversify your workforce.
We are going through an important period of adjusting cultural wrongs, and it’s important to not slip into the habits of old and recruit from a narrow talent pool. A diverse workforce is not just about looks, but talent from varied backgrounds brings a wealth of different knowledge and experiences to the table, which will lead to better outcomes and a more equal world. Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men provided shocking insights into just how damaging a homogenous talent pool has been in the history of the industrialized world.
• Give back to the community wherever you are.
Communities around the world have been positively and negatively affected by the proliferation of global tech giants. The downside has been the concentration of vast wealth between very few people, while economies and communities on the ground have seen very little trickle-down effect. While you might not have the lofty ambitions of running a business worth $100 billion, building a strong link to the local communities you operate in is very important. That starts from the basics, such as making sure you pay local taxes, volunteering for local causes and employing local people.
• Think big!
ESG has been big news in corporate, investor and governance circles over the last few years, and its importance is ever-growing. With regulations around ESG reporting tightening in many regions, building your business according to these principles is now becoming a must rather than a nice to have.
We are at the start of a complete reimagining of how business should work for society, the environment and the world as a whole. It is not an easy journey, but by building a solid foundation for a sustainable business, you can ensure you attract the best people to have by your side on the way to the top.
Image Credit: GETTY
Introverts are often misunderstood. They get a bad rap for being “shy” or “reserved.” However, introverts can also be some of the most creative and successful people in business. Why? Because they have qualities that many others lack—qualities like creativity, focus, and determination.
If you’re an introvert considering starting your own business, this article is for you. We will cover everything from how to know if you’re an introvert to top business ideas for introverted people. So read on—and start planning your entrepreneurial business venture!
How to Know If You’re an Introvert
Characteristics that differentiate introverts from the rest of us include a strong drive and self-motivation. They also are dedicated, and laser-focused on the tasks at hand—all traits that make great business owners, which we will get into shortly.
So ask yourself: Are you shy? Do you prefer to spend your free time alone or with a small group of close friends? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you may be an introvert. But don’t worry—being an introvert is not a bad thing. In fact, many of the most remarkable business leaders are introverts.
Why Do Introverted Entrepreneurs Make Great Small Business Owners?
There are several reasons why introverts make great small company owners. For instance, they are usually:
Top Business Ideas for Introverted People
Now that we’ve covered some reasons why introverts make great business owners let’s take a look at some of our favorite business ideas for introverts.
1. Manage Social Media Accounts
Today, many businesses are turning to social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok to market products and services. And when they do, they often hire specialists to manage this task. As a social media consultant, you get to work independently and remotely while still being creative and interacting with others. Even better, there are opportunities to collaborate with clients long-term, which translates to a steady income stream.
2. Photo Editing Business
If you have a good eye for detail, a passion for photography, and know how to use photo editing tools, the photo editing business could be a full-time career for you. With startup costs under $5,000, a photo editing company falls right in line with the introvert’s desire to work independently. Relatedly, you could branch out from photo editing to photo restoration, which involves building up a client list of people who want to restore old photos.
3. Online Courses Business
Instructors and people with extensive knowledge in their niche and who can teach others are good candidates for an online course business. For this option, you will need to invest money to create the platform, which is known as a Learning Management System. You’ll need to plan on investing significantly to develop courses and advertising strategies. Still, once your company starts moving along, there is the potential to bring in a six-figure profit from the comfort of your couch.
4. Woodworking Business
If you’re handy with power tools and enjoy working with wood, starting a woodworking business is a great way to make use of your skills. You can operate your business from home, setting up a workshop in your garage or basement. And you can sell your products online or at local craft fairs and farmer’s markets.
5. Bitcoin Mining Business
Introverts knowledgeable about everything bitcoin will like this option since they can work from a bitcoin mining operation on their property. Often, you can just let the process run in the background, making this option a great way to make a semi-passive income. One important thing to remember is that, even though you can get started for $200, most professional miners tend to buy hardware with costs that can go up to $20,000.
6. Life Coach Training
If you’re a good listener and enjoy helping others, becoming a life coach is a great business idea. You can train to become a certified life coach online or through community college courses. And you can operate your business from home, meeting with clients in person, over the phone, or on Skype.
7. Landscaping Business
If you love being outdoors and working with your hands, starting a landscaping business is a wonderful day job to have. You can help clients with everything from design to maintenance. If this sounds like a brilliant business idea to you, startup costs are relatively low for landscaping companies.
8. Graphic Design Business
If you’re a socially awkward person who is creative and have an eye for design, starting a graphic design business is a great way to use your skills. If you choose to own a graphic design studio, you’ll design collateral like advertising banners, corporate logos and illustrations. Highly skilled entrepreneurs in the business can see profit margins that range anywhere from 15%-50%. In addition, you can count small businesses and large corporations as your clients.
9. Business Coaching
If you have experience running a business and enjoy helping others, then becoming a business coach is a great option for you. And you can help them with everything from startups to marketing strategy to time management. You can operate your new business from home and meet with clients in person or talk to them over the phone. Also, if you want a more professional place to meet, there are also flexible office leasing programs you can use that save money over traditional office leases.
10. Blogging Business
Plenty of successful entrepreneurs that are introverts have founded their own lucrative blogging businesses. However, introverts who plan on having their own blog should thoroughly know their subject and be prepared to convey their ideas and opinions to others successfully.
11. Pet Photographer
If you love animals and have a good eye for photography, starting a pet photography business is the perfect way to combine your two passions. The location to shoot your pet models can be your residence if zoning laws permit it in your area. Keep in mind, though, that you will need good photography equipment for this specialty photography business, which can be expensive.
More Ideas for Introverts to Start Your Own Business
The following low-cost business ideas can help you save money and provide excellent business opportunities for introverts.
12. Junk Removal Business
Number 12 is a good niche industry for the introverted small business owner, as it allows you to work primarily alone. But, of course, when you first arrive at their home or business, you’ll need to contend with customers to give them a quote for your junk removal services. But other than that, you can complete most of the work yourself.
13. Online Tutor
If you’re a great teacher, have good business sense and want to share your knowledge with others, becoming an online tutor will likely be a great fit. Also, if you need to find clients, you can start by tutoring students in your local area before expanding your reach online. You can tutor students in anything from math to languages to test prep. And you can set your own rates and hours, which makes this a good flexible business idea for introverts.
14. Personal Organizer Business
If you are a reserved person who hates clutter in all its forms, a personal organizer business is a great niche business for you. With this line of work, contact is minimal, and you can help people with everything from decluttering their homes to organizing their closets.
15. Dog Walking Business
If you enjoy spending time with dogs more than humans, then being the owner of a dog walking company may come naturally to you. However, the success of this business will rely a lot on your marketing efforts, so you’ll need to budget some time and money to market it. Other things you’ll need, include liability insurance and a pet software system for online scheduling, invoicing, etc.
16. Ghostwriting Business
If you are a gifted writer who enjoys working behind the scenes, then ghostwriting is the business for you. You can work with clients to write everything from articles and blog posts to eBooks and even speeches. One of the best parts of ghostwriting is that startup costs are generally under $1,000. Another great thing is that you can run this business from home, making most of your income pure profit.
17. Transcription Business
If you are an introvert with stellar listening capabilities and can quickly and accurately type out what you hear, why not start a transcription business? You will transcribe audio files into written documents as part of your transcription services. You can offer your services to companies in various industries, from law to medicine to insurance. Startup costs typically range under $1,000. The growth potential will depend on your business plan, goals and marketing skills.
18. Greenhouse Business
Starting a greenhouse business may sound like a little slice of heaven if you have a green thumb and enjoy being around plants. Profits will be a little tricky in the initial years. But if you have the liquidity and the initiative to stick it out for the long run, you can be looking at making $50,000-$100,000 per year growing and selling anything from flowers to produce to herbs.
19. Online Sales
If you are an introvert that prefers to stay at home, you can still have a lucrative business by selling products online. You can sell things you make yourself, like arts and crafts, or resell products you buy wholesale. Sites like Etsy make it easy to sell online, and the world can be your oyster if you stay focused. You can also create your own website and plug wares like flavored-infused olive oil or gourmet cookies and candies.
20. App Developer
Mobile apps are getting more popular all the time, along with the need to create ones with new and unique features. Self-employed app developers work from home or the office, where they develop apps that help people with their everyday lives or solve specific problems they have. Additionally, being an app developer is good if you’re not too tech-savvy since you can develop many apps without coding.
21. House Cleaning Services
If you’re a neat freak, starting a home cleaning business is a profitable business that doesn’t need much startup funds. You can operate your business from your residence, meeting with clients either in person or over the phone. And you can help them with everything from decluttering their homes to deep cleaning their kitchens.
22. Data Entry Business
Data entry is another excellent business idea for introverts, and you start doing it as a full-time business with very little startup capital. This type of work can be done remotely, and it doesn’t require you to interact a lot with others. All you need is a computer and reliable internet, and then you can start offering your services to businesses and individuals who need help organizing their data.
23. Niche Freelance Coder
There is a high demand for niche freelance coders, and the detailed and meticulous nature of coding fits in perfectly with the introverted personality type. What’s more, you don’t need much money to start coding. All you need is a computer and an internet connection, which will cost you about $1,000. It gets better, too, as courses are abundant online where you can learn how to code at a low cost.
24. Freelance Writing
If you’re a good writer, this business is tailor-made for you. A wide range of writing projects is available, from copywriting to white paper writing to SEO writing. You don’t need a formal education to provide writing services, either. Startup costs to be a freelance gigger range from $65 to $1,000, depending on whether you already own a good computer or laptop. Besides having a way to write, you will need a good internet connection and determination to see your successful writing business through.
Can Introverts Be Successful Business Owners?
Have you ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, Elon Musk or Bill Gates? Chances are you have, and these famous people all have something in common. Yep, you guessed it: they are all uber-successful introverts. Plus, all of them prove that it is possible to create successful businesses, even when you are a bit self-contained. Isn’t that something?
Which Business is Best for Introverts?
While there are a number of businesses that are well-suited for introverts, there is no cookie-cutter solution. For the best business ideas, you will want to look at aspects like low startup costs, the ability to work from home and businesses that are in the service industry or are service-based.
Meanwhile, the worst approach is settling on one just because it makes the most money. While making money is the name of the game in for-profit businesses, choosing your path solely on cash potential can lead you to ruin. Therefore, think about selecting the one that plays to your strengths vs. your weaknesses. After all, your success and happiness may depend on it.
Also, the best way to figure out which business is right for you is to spend some time soul-searching and thinking about what you are passionate about (and, of course, one you can do from the comfort of your own home or with little intervention from others).
What Business Can You Do Alone?
You know the old joke, “If it weren’t for the customers and employees, this would be a great place to work?” The quip smacks of sarcasm, but if you are an introvert, you get it. On the other hand, we’d be remiss if we said there are businesses you can get into where you do things entirely alone all of the time.
In a nutshell, you will have to interact with people to provide excellent customer service and more if you want to get paid. In addition, getting more clients is hard if you don’t interact with those you have.
That being said, a number of businesses are well-suited for introverts, as they can be done solo for the most part. You’ll find that anything from being a freelance writer to doing niche coding and providing graphic design services can be performed from home without too much human interaction.
Other business ideas that let you be a lone wolf include pet photography and pretty much anything on this list. So if you’re looking to get into business without a lot of social interaction, these are some of the best options for you!
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If you want to become a business owner someday and succeed in any business you start, here are some foundational tips and advice to set you up for success.
With the ever-changing economic climate, many people are getting into entrepreneurship, which makes sense, because there are several benefits to being a business owner. Running your own company can mean you get the best of both worlds: time and money. As your own boss, you'll get the freedom to schedule your workdays while also achieving financial freedom. Not to mention, you get to create an impact and help others with your business — who wouldn't want that?
Nonetheless, being an entrepreneur is no easy feat, and the journey to becoming a successful business owner isn't always straight and smooth. Over the years, I have learned a few key things that have helped myself navigate being an entrepreneur. If you want to become a business owner someday and succeed in any business you start, here are some foundational tips and advice to set you up for success:
1. Carve out time to sell
As the pilot of your business, the sales — and ultimately, your business's performance — are entirely up to you. That said, you're not guaranteed a paycheck.
Many entrepreneurs struggle with prioritizing their time and assignments. Never underestimate the importance of blocking out time to sell like you would block out time for a client meeting. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend blocking out three hours to sell each day; no calls, no meetings, etc. All that to say, it's equally as important to ensure you have a strong, high-quality service to sell to begin with. If you're passionate about what you're selling, and you're committed to catering to your clients' needs, then selling won't be tedious — it will be fun.
2. Hire a strong team
Sometimes, first-time entrepreneurs fall into the pattern of wanting to do everything themselves. This is a dangerous pattern to sink into. To save time for things like selling and meeting with clients or customers, I recommend hiring a staff person to do the everyday tasks and help get the business off the ground. Another key to success is hiring people you trust and allowing them to do their job freely.
Hiring your first employee can be scary, but once you understand that mess-ups are sometimes inevitable, it'll allow you to take some work off your plate and focus. Your team will never get better if you're constantly watching over their shoulders. Hiring a strong team is critical, because at the end of the day, you need strong employees to support you and bring in more business. Your employees should have the same mission and vision as you, and they should be committed to the success of the business.
3. Schedule time to learn
Regardless of your industry experience, make learning a lifetime priority. Similar to selling, I advise entrepreneurs to carve out time to learn. While learning can look different for everyone — attending conferences, reading books or listening to podcasts, for example — it's crucial to create a schedule that includes time to learn. By setting aside time to learn, you can take a step back and review what's working and not working within your business.
4. You have to spend money to make money
In many cases, money can help you expand — either via marketing, hiring more employees or attending leadership conferences, for example. Even if you don't have a team or marketing budget, I advise business owners to set aside some money for marketing.
Becoming your own boss is a truly rewarding experience. However, a large part of business ownership is trial and error, because after all, you don't know what you don't know. While there are several things you'll have to learn, applying these critical things to your business will increase your chances of success. I'm proud to say that my two companies were able to double their full-time teams, get out of debt, pivot and make it through Covid. We also doubled our video output and tripled our clients throughout 2020 and 2021.
My biggest and last piece of advice: You'll never be ready. You'll never be perfect. Just go, and start. Fall down, and then get back up 1,000 times over. The best things in life don't come easy — and neither does entrepreneurship.
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