Move Over, Alphas: Highly Sensitive People Make the Best Business Owners

A highly sensitive person standing in front of the successful business she built.

Highly sensitive people have a natural ability to build success — for themselves and everyone involved.

I always knew that I didn’t want a “normal” job. Of course, when I was younger, my parents tried to steer me in that direction — but they ultimately failed. My parent’s idea of a wise career choice was identifying my strengths and interests… and then finding a way to combine them with science.

I was good at drawing, and because I believed that the only valid career choice for me would be an architect, I planned my high school classes according to what was required to reach this goal. Even then, my idea of success wasn’t being part of an architectural firm: I wanted to be the leader of my own firm. 

When I inevitably failed to reach my architecture goal because I’d never been good at math, I decided to pursue a goal that better fit my natural strengths. I opted for a career in social work. I had an interest in social work issues, it was a broad field that would never get boring for me, and it enabled me to help people.

Even when my heart was dead set on pursuing a career in social work, one part of my career plan didn’t change. I didn’t want to work for an organization — I wanted to start my own counseling practice. Even before I knew it was possible for me to start my own creative business, professional independence was always a goal of mine. 

If you identify as a highly sensitive person (HSP) like I do, you might be able to relate to the desire to try your hand at your own business. On one hand, it may not make sense to you. After all, aren’t business owners these aggressive, profit-obsessed sharks who seem to be the exact opposite of sensitive? Not necessarily. If you take a closer look at what it really means to own your own business and the strengths you can offer to clients, you’ll see that entrepreneurship makes perfect sense for us HSPs. We’re natural leaders because of the many strengths that come with being highly sensitive. And we tend to take a great deal of satisfaction in building a business that matters — and delivers success for everyone, not just ourselves.

Here’s how we do it.

4 Reasons HSPs Make the Best Business Owners

1. You know how to have deep conversations — and make connections.

Anyone with even a basic understanding of marketing knows that being pushy isn’t how you sell things or build success.

In reality, successful business involves fostering trusting relationships with customers and clients. A deep understanding of people, their needs, and their motivations makes those relationships possible — and HSPs typically have little problem doing so because of the way we operate. 

Not only do we prefer deep talk to small talk, but we also enjoy fostering meaningful conversations — which lead to, you guessed it, meaningful relationships.

In addition, the highly sensitive brain picks up on subtle cues from others naturally. This, and the fact that HSPs are the ultimate body language experts, also helps us be naturals when it comes to reading people and connecting with them. Speaking of which…

2. You have a talent for discerning clients’ needs. 

According to a 2014 study, highly sensitive people are more responsive to the emotional needs of others compared to their less-sensitive counterparts.Their particularly active mirror neuron networks are activated in response to the emotions of loved ones and strangers. The areas of the brain related to empathy, integration of sensory information, awareness, and preparation for action light up when they perceive an emotional response. 

As an HSP, you likely possess the ability to pick up on what other people need (for better or worse!) and the way your brain works compels you to respond to these needs. In business matters, you can use this desire to tailor your product or service to the needs of your clientele and plan your marketing in such a way that reaches as many people as possible. 

3. Your creative flair helps your business stand out.

Even when we don’t call ourselves artists, HSPs naturally add a creative flair to everything we do. This gift will serve you very well in business. In an increasingly saturated market, as an HSP, you will have no problem making your business stand out with your creativity. You’ll likely labor painstakingly over which color your logo should be or what sort of font to use on your website. Your attention to detail — coupled with your aesthetic sensibilities — will likely appeal to a broad audience, and will serve your clients well, too.

4. Your personal brand is authentic.

Highly sensitive people value authenticity. This is one of the reasons why many HSPs find it so difficult to be comfortable in traditional corporate settings that require workers to put their authenticity aside and participate in certain office politics. In such environments, oftentimes, people will do anything to get ahead, which goes against our nature as HSPs.

As an HSP business owner, however, no matter what products or services you choose to offer, your authenticity will appeal to customers and clients. Don’t be afraid to tell your story and reveal your personality to the world. The payoff will be big, trust me. 

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For Highly Sensitive People, Running a Business Can Be a Source of Meaning

Highly sensitive people have many strengths that appeal to their clients and customers, but the entrepreneurial lifestyle brings many benefits to HSPs, as well. In fact, in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, Dr. Elaine Aron says that “self-employment is a logical route for HSPs.” Here’s why:

  • You can choose your own hours. HSPs hate busy schedules and being rushed. I think this is why we’re prone to exhaustion and burnout — because of the way our brains differ from those who are less-sensitive. Even at rest, the highly sensitive mind is processing information deeply. The flexible schedule of a career in as a business owner generally leaves room for needed recuperation (or whatever your mind and body need on any given day). 
  • Tailor your work environment to your needs. Working for yourself, whether that means working from your home or a rented space, means you no longer need to work in an uncomfortable environment. You never have to deal with harsh lighting (HSPs are prone to light sensitivity), lumpy chairs, your coworker’s strong perfume (which triggers your chemical sensitivity), or the terrible thermostat decisions of others — in addition to 101 other things. In your place of business, you can create an HSP sanctuary suited to your sensory processing needs. 
  • Do work that adds purpose to your life. HSPs can be successful at anything they do, especially if they believe their work serves a meaningful purpose. A strong sense of purpose is necessary for a highly sensitive person’s happiness. As a business owner, you will enjoy the freedom to follow your calling. 

My love of writing was apparent very early on, but because I was concerned about being “realistic” and pleasing authority figures, I didn’t consider it a career option. But I’m so happy I took the time to look within, listen to my HSP intuition, and find out what I truly wanted to do with my life. I now enjoy a career with unlimited potential for growth, the ability to express myself creatively, and the opportunity to do something that gives me a sense of purpose — all on my own terms.

My fellow highly sensitive souls, do you think you’d enjoy running your own business? What does your dream business look like? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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