Whatever your personality type, you’re probably surprised to see Introverts—especially Introverted Perceivers—suggested as not just entrepreneurs, but the best entrepreneurs. And if you are an INFP, you may be shocked to see yourself in this position, unless you’ve already discovered you have what it takes to fly solo and have gone out on your own.
It’s easy to picture those gregarious Extraverts as entrepreneurs. Their outgoing nature makes networking, negotiating with suppliers and making sales calls no big deal. Introverts, however, often have difficulty with all of these tasks.
But those who type as INFP in Myers and Briggs' system have at least seven traits going for them that can help them soar as entrepreneurs, whatever the business or industry.
1. Creativity knows no bounds
INFPs are known for their creativity, and many artists, writers and musicians share INFP traits. But this creativity can be applied in any field or endeavor. No idea is too far out for INFPs. Their nonjudgmental nature means they listen to all ideas without prejudice and hope to find the gems that could be key to their business. Their entrepreneurial ventures are likely to be unusual or even unique, and not those that have already been done.
2. Shooting for the stars
The inherent idealism that INFPs are often criticized for helps them see possibilities where other personality types will not. This goes beyond creative ideas to believing in themselves and in other people. While others are quick to dismiss what seems to them to be idealistic and impossible, INFPs will say firmly that it IS possible, it CAN work.
3. Caring is at their core
Caring deeply about other people, INFPs want to see everyone do well, and that core trait will permeate every aspect of any business they form. Their creative ideas will likely involve solving people’s problems or helping people in some way.
They’ll think of their employees as family, and go out of their way to make sure they feel appreciated and respected. They’ll give their sales staff the tools and training they need to succeed. And they’ll create a culture that’s understanding of individual needs, from paid time off to flex time, plus creative, original benefits that they come up with. By keeping their employees happy, they won’t suffer the high turnover rates fledgling businesses often do.
And they will care about their customers - not because you must care about customers if you want to stay in business - but because that’s who they are at their core. Those who type INFP on a personality test care about people. So if a customer is unhappy, the INFP entrepreneur will want to hear from them, fix the problem, and make sure it doesn’t happen to any other customer in the future.
4. Willingness to persevere
The hard-working INFP’s idealism doesn’t stretch to leaving their success up to luck or fate. Certainly, INFPs who are artists or musicians know there’s no “overnight successes” in these tough fields. If one producer or other power-that-be turns them down, they pitch another one. Giving up is not part of their vocabulary.
The same independent streak that causes many INFP job seekers to eschew the nine-to-five grind and strike out on their own also gives them nontraditional working styles and hours. They’re very willing to stay up into the wee hours to flesh out an idea. The INFP writers, musicians, artists, and other creative types are happy to get up and work at 3 a.m. if that’s when the muse strikes.
While other personality types shake their heads at the impracticality of this behavior - “you’ll be tired the next day!” - INFPs wouldn’t consider passing up the opportunity to delve into their passion whenever and wherever it arises. And if they are tired the next day, they’ll take a nap to recharge. They’re not working nine-to-five, and as entrepreneurs, they’re in charge - so they can work nontraditional hours that work for them.
5. Compromise brings everyone together
The peace-loving INFP believes in fairness in all things. If they’re the boss, everyone will have a chance and all ideas will be heard. Luckily, INFPs don’t feel that all the best ideas have to be theirs. That would mean being the center of attention, something they’re really not keen on!
They’ve been keeping the peace through compromise their whole lives, so it’s second nature to INFPs to know how to resolve petty squabbles and soothe big egos. And empathetic INFPs will do that without hurting anyone’s feelings.
6. Someone you can rely on
INFPs are thinkers. In fact, they generally do more thinking than talking, so you can be sure that when they say they’ll do something, they’ve given it a lot of thought before making the commitment. They know it’s something they can accomplish and are willing to undertake.
That means when INFPs go out on a limb as entrepreneurs, they’ve thought about all sides of the business and all the possibilities, both positive and negative. They’re willing to put in the time and hard work they know having their own business will require. Of course, they will be met with unforeseen obstacles along the way, because the state of a business is dependent upon many people and factors beyond their control. They will meet these challenges with creative solutions that they feel will succeed.
7. Leading with integrity
Personal integrity is as vital to INFPs as breathing - not only honesty but being true to oneself and doing what they perceive as “the right thing” in all instances. Making a good deal is one thing, but INFPs won’t be taking advantage of suppliers, customers, or employees in order to corner the market or make more profit.
Helping others is one of the most important purposes in life to INFPs. Most likely, It’s at the heart of their passion for what they’re embarking on. INFPs want to succeed, but they want others to succeed too, and that will be clear in their mission statement, vision statement and core values.
Working with INFP Weaknesses
If you’re doing business with someone who types INFP on a Myers and Briggs personality test - or considering partnering with one - you’re in capable, passionate, reliable hands. Every personality type has its weaknesses, however, and it will help you work well with INFPs if you understand them.
Or, if you are an INFP entrepreneur yourself, learn to tap into your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses. Here are some tips:
Reach out for advice
Though your tendency is to work alone and depend only on yourself, step out of your comfort zone and reach out to others with attributes that will enhance yours.
Sometimes, a trait has both positive and negative possible outcomes; idealism is a good example. Idealism can make INFPs see others the way they want them to be - the ideal - rather than the way they truly are. One way around this is to ask someone you trust to meet with anyone you’re considering hiring. Bounce creative ideas off a few trusted advisors who may see them in a light you hadn’t thought about.
Check your sensitivity
Your sensitivity lets you tune in to those around you, but it can make you overly sensitive to perceived slights or criticism when someone is really just disagreeing with you. When you feel attacked or ignored, remind yourself it’s more likely your oversensitivity kicking in.
Care about yourself, too
Your caring nature is a big part of who you are, and no one is suggesting you lose that. But it’s important to take care of yourself in the process, too - something INFPs often neglect. Get enough sleep - through nights and naps - to stay healthy and mentally sharp. Be as good to yourself as you are to others by taking breaks, relaxing with friends, perhaps even indulging in a massage.
Ask for help
You can’t do everything; no one can. Don’t be shy about asking for help, whether you’re hiring or initially asking for volunteers. Bring someone on board to keep you and your files organized. Knowing INFPs’ tendency to act on instinct and feelings, ask accountants, researchers, and lawyers to bring you the facts to consider, too.
Starting off on solid footing, surrounded by the supportive help you need, will allow your new enterprise to take off, and you and your crew to soar.