The INFJ is considered the rarest of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, estimated to make up 1-3 percent of the population. INFJs are described as “counselors” who possess empathetic traits. It might be hard to meet one in person, but if you look in the right places, you can find INFJs online who are trying to make their mark on the world. Many INFJs (and introverts in general) are drawn to entrepreneurship because it allows them to pursue causes they believe in, as well as create their own optimum schedule and work setting.
While a personality assessment like the MBTI shouldn’t be used to pigeonhole yourself or limit your personal growth, it can reveal some of the qualities that make up your core personality. I was sixteen years old when I first discovered my personality type — and it was one of the defining moments of my teenage life. Since then, I’ve consistently scored as an INFJ.
Because of our “Judging” function, INFJs are typical “dreamers with a plan.” We have big goals for our lives — and the world around us — and we take concrete steps to make them a reality. I, too, would define myself as a practical idealist.
That being said, there are certain challenges that are unique to INFJs. For one, we’re probably not the personality type that comes to mind when you think “business.” Caring and sensitive, we’d rather help others than think of how to earn money from them. Managing resources, competing with others, and making decisions using objective logic are traits typically more associated with the INTJ or ENTJ.
Also, we may have big dreams, but they may not always be associated with monetary reward. According to recent research by Truity, the average income for an INFJ is on the lower scale in terms of the “I”, “N”, and “F” functions.
Nevertheless, INFJs can make incredible entrepreneurs (and earn a good living doing meaningful work). But it’s important that they stay focused, capitalize on their unique strengths, and establish clear boundaries. Here are seven tips to do just that.
How to Shine as an INFJ Entrepreneur
1. Draw on your listening skills.
As an introvert, you’re probably already one heck of a good listener.
When I was younger, I used to get annoyed or defensive if I felt like the other person wasn’t really listening to what I was saying. Nowadays I’m mellower (it’s one of the perks of getting older!), and I try to be calm and mature during conversations which could comprise of strong differing opinions.
When it comes to business, make it a point to show your customers and clients how well you listen to them. Whether you’re a life coach, freelance writer, or something else, the other person is thinking about hiring you not because “you’re an introvert,” but because you could be the one to help give them a solution. Use your listening and observation skills to truly understand your customer’s pain points. It builds rapport and will help you create a solution that gives your customer results.
2. Don’t undersell yourself or your products.
We INFJs know that we’re creative and hold onto values we’re deeply committed to. We’re sensitive and giving of our time because of our empathetic and compassionate nature.
That being said, business is not the same thing as being a charity. A nice way to incorporate a form of giving back to society or your community is to have a percentage of your profits go toward supporting a cause you believe in.
Don’t be overly altruistic when it comes to budgeting and planning for your daily living expenses. Material security might not mean anything to our souls when we depart from this world, but having a roof over your head and not freaking out about a perpetually minuscule bank account helps give you material (and emotional) security to some extent.
Figure out how much you need to survive and don’t undersell your products or services. Do you worry about pricing because you don’t believe you deserve to earn more, or that the people who need your help most won’t be able to afford it if you increase your prices?
Think about what cost it’d be to you if you continue to keep your prices too low (or free, in some cases!). Is the exhaustion and worry over finances worth it? Aim to find a balance between your giving nature and your budgeting goals for income and necessities.
3. Get comfortable saying no.
Writer Claire Wilde says:
One way to make time is by starting to say no to things you might otherwise feel obliged to say yes to.
When you’re an entrepreneur, you become ultra aware of how you manage your time. You’re likely to have a never-ending to-do list, and if you don’t see to these tasks, it’s your bottom line that takes a hit.
There could be many situations that feel more like obligations to you, rather than events or activities you actually wholeheartedly say yes to. INFJs dislike conflict, so it will probably take some practice to get used to the idea that you can say no and stand your ground.
For example, are there friends or family members who take a lot of time away from your entrepreneurial endeavors? Take a moment or two to ground yourself to see how your body literally feels when you think about some of the situations in your life you consider as “obligations.” Then, think about how you could bring more balance to your life to claim the time you need for business related activities, while still allocating some time for social and family get togethers.
Life is too short to live out others’ dreams and expectations while sacrificing your own.
4. Know when to step back… emotionally.
The empathetic nature of INFJs can make us an emotional sponge. We just “get it” when someone is suffering or undergoing some kind of turmoil in their life.
Have you found yourself unintentionally soaking up emotions that aren’t yours? Someone could spend an hour offloading to you about some worries at work. While that person feels much better after the session, you find yourself not just drained but also feeling the stress and anxiety that the person just shared with you.
These are times when you have to take a step back. Visually imagine a line separating the other person’s emotional world and reality from your own.
Knowing when to step back can be helpful in business too, especially if you find yourself getting jealous of others’ success while outwardly congratulating them on it. You may also become especially harsh on yourself because of some negative criticism you’ve received.
Everybody makes mistakes, and we all have the choice to learn and grow from those mistakes.
5. Know when to step back… from social media.
In the past few years, there have been more articles exploring the negative effects of social media. How social is it really if it’s causing us more stress and anxiety than feelings of mutual and genuine friendship?
The other important factor to keep in mind is that social media is a highlight reel. When you’re aware that you’re only viewing the best moments of someone’s life on their profile, it helps you remember that it’s a limited or distorted sense of reality that social media depicts.
In terms of your business, these days, social media isn’t giving entrepreneurs as much ROI as it used to. Consider focusing more on your website and email marketing efforts. Social media rules and algorithms change frequently, and the same strategies that worked yesterday might not work as well today. You want to have more control over how and when you contact and connect with your clients and followers.
6. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
I know a few INFJ entrepreneurs, and they’re all incredibly multi-talented individuals, but at times, they lack focus. After all, how do you decide on a career or passion to pursue if you’re equally interested in several things?
Entrepreneurship is a lot more manageable when you’re able to clearly define and stay committed to achieving goals. It helps you narrow things down so that you make the best use of your time and resources. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, or try to save everybody all at once.
Pick something you’re very good at, that you enjoy doing, and that others are willing to pay for. Make a list of WHY you’re an entrepreneur and the VISION you have for your business. The ability to focus will give you a quantum leap in terms of getting things done.
7. Choose your collaborators carefully.
Last but not least, be careful with who you work with.
As INFJs, it’s ideal if we can work and collaborate with people who have similar values. There will be people who think nothing of cutting corners or promising more than they ever intend to deliver for the purpose of making a sales page sing (and get money flowing in their direction).
INFJs are deeply committed to the work we do. It isn’t about being a perfectionist or procrastinator. It’s because we’re giving of ourselves through what we do — anything less just doesn’t feel right.
INFJ entrepreneurs, there’s a lot for any individual to “get right” when it comes to having a successful business. We have unique strengths, but with these strengths come unique potential pitfalls as well. The work we have to do includes protecting the things we need for our success — our time, our finances, and our ability to set boundaries. Learning how to secure these will help us to help others, which is our ultimate goal.