Shy Entrepreneur

As an introvert, I know the struggle to talk about my ideas and share my views are very real. Needless to say, the ‘Tell me about yourself’ question which popped up at every interview would invariably lead to me wiping the sweat off my palms under the table and sincerely hoping my discomfort was inconspicuous. How was I supposed to convey that I was suitable for the job without sounding like a pompous little brat with a sense of entitlement? I knew I was capable, there was no doubt in my mind about that. I was just too shy to talk about my achievements and contributions in my field of work.

There are many capable and talented entrepreneurs who stand at a similar crossroad of self-marketing today. They run small, successful businesses but are not really active participants in the social media sphere. While this may be a matter of personal choice, it could also just be that the entrepreneur is just ‘social media shy’ and does not want to blow his own trumpet on social media portals.

Facebook - Social Media

But in an era that is dominated by social media, it is guaranteed that if your business is not promoted exponentially online, it might as well not exist.

There are three primary root causes that bring about an entrepreneur’s aversion to promoting himself/herself or a business on social media. These are interestingly the same reasons that introverts hesitate to speak about themselves too much.

The fear of failure

Nobody wants to set themselves up on a pedestal and then fall when the whole world is watching. The same principal applies to entrepreneurs who are hesitant to promote their businesses or become thought leaders in their respective spheres. Failure at this point would mean ‘losing face’ in the local community and industry. The fear of making a mistake or failing to meet targets cause some entrepreneurs to hit the brakes when it comes to increasing their visibility on social media.

The pitfall of this approach

While a dormant social media presence is going to help you cover up your failures, the news of your success will also not garner widespread reach and you could lose out on a larger customer base.

Fear of taking on more than you can handle

At some point in our lives, we have all wondered if we are living examples of the phrase ‘Biting off more than one could chew’. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when the responses and enquiries come pouring in on social media and it is quite likely that you will feel incapable of fulfilling your promised commitment. If you are a small entrepreneur, it is quite likely that you do not have the resources for mass production of your product/service and the social media onslaught could leave you intimidated and feeling uncertain of what you have to offer.

The pitfall of this approach

Without an external factor that will help you test your limits (social media in this instance), you will never be able to gauge the extent of your true potential. A good social media presence could sometime be the difference between a business on the verge of complacency and a business that beat all odds and reaped remarkable rewards.

Fear of Criticism

There is a saying in my native language, which when translated roughly amounts to ‘The four words that have crushed the greatest spirits and killed the most dreams are ‘What will people say?’” As someone who was immensely fearful of being judged, this was a question that would plague me each time I opened my mouth to say something to someone new. I have grown to learn that the fear of criticism is an aspect that a lot of people battle with on a regular basis. As an entrepreneur, the fear of criticism and the fact that someone could find glaring errors in your business model and beliefs, could be very unsettling. You have spent days and possibly even years to reach where you are today and the thought of someone criticizing the crux of everything you have done so far just does not seem worth it.
The pitfall of this approach

While it totally sucks when someone points out flaws in your work, unbiased and undisguised criticism is the only way for you to become a better person and grow your business in the right direction. Social media platforms can be quite ruthless and criticize your every move. When this happens, sit down with those you are close to and sort through the web of allegations and cater only to those areas that have a semblance of truth hidden in them.

While the above points serve as reasons for the shy entrepreneur to engage on social media platforms, they may still have their inhibitions on being too ‘salesy’ about their products or themselves. Instead of looking at talking about yourself as ‘pitching’ for yourself, use it as an opportunity to share your story. Tell people about your journey, how you got to where you are now, the struggles, the sleepless nights spent fueling on caffeine and that one great idea that changed everything. Telling people your story is part of who you are and not what you are projecting yourself to be.

In closing, all I would like to say is even if none of these points seemed convincing enough to get you out of your shell and engage vociferously on social media, there is one thought that pushes me out of my comfort zone and do what needs to be done. In the end, it is the ‘what if’s that disappoint us more than the ‘I shouldn’t have’s.