Updated: Feb 7
Written by: Bryn Bonino
“98% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years.” That’s what I vaguely remember hearing in one of my college business classes. But I definitely remember feeling my heart sink. And when I realized what this meant for my entrepreneurial plans, a wave of desperation washed over me.
INFJs As Entrepreneurs
Now I know myself better. I’m happy to say that as an INFJ, I’m one of the 1 percenters. If you’re reading this, you probably are too. We are the most uncommon Myers-Briggs personality type. And our inherent qualities allow us to be particularly successful in running micro-enterprises for a few reasons.
We’re Good Planners
For one thing, we’re visionaries. We have big dreams that we pursue, even if we don’t know how to get there. Most small businesses fail because of a lack of long-term planning. But we’re good at it.
We Value Human Connection
We tend to be good at building connections and community. Our intuition allows us to see what other people need. And our sensitivity gives us the empathy to help. This is good for business and for branding.
We Think Outside Of The Box
We’re creative. This is important for standing apart from the competition. When we think outside of the box and position ourselves in a unique way, then we’ll be more memorable with our audience.
Given these indicators, if you brand your business using your unique INFJ qualities, you’re likely to be successful.
In this article, I’ll tell you how you can brand your business using your unique backstory and your uncompromising world values. As a result, you’ll be able to leverage your brand so the right kind of clients come to find you. And you won’t have to go outside of your comfort zone and use pushy marketing tactics.
Introspectively Identify Your Backstory and Values
When you introspectively identify your backstory and values, then you’ll have something that is uniquely you. You won’t directly compete with anyone else, so you will be more memorable to your followers.
In order to arrive at this process, you’ll get more authentic results if you do an inductive analysis. In other words, you’ll arrive at your conclusion by minimizing preconceived ideas. This can be difficult to do when you analyze yourself. But the following process gives you a grounded start.
Get Clear On Your Story
All successful long-term legacy brands clearly define who they are and what they stand for. These brands seem to have a personality of their own and they connect on an emotional level with their audience. This is why a backstory is pivotal in shaping your brand. A backstory personifies a brand so that others can identify with it.
If you’ve never linked your business brand to a backstory, your likely to have more success when linking it to your own personal story.
As a dreamer and creative INFJ, you probably remember your past in vivid colors. This is an excellent start in getting your own backstory written down.
So, write down as many memories as you can in the form of microstories.
Here’s an example:
I remember how I developed a comprehensive system for learning Spanish when I was in high school. I would write all my vocabulary words and conjugations on color-coded notecards. I kept all of them in a series of card boxes. By the time I was in college, I’d written my own ebook for learning Spanish the easy way. I did this all before the 21st century and before I turned 18.
Don’t just write one memory. Keep writing micro-backstories until you can’t write anymore. When I did this, I took the better part of a day to write. I ended up with 31 microstories and a 67-page story archive.
Try to see how many you can write. The more microstories you write, the more ground you’ll have to stand in the next step.
Find Your Uncompromising World Values
In this step, re-read all your microstories and search for recurring values. Find what your actions in each microstory demonstrate about you. It may help to think of the people who are in you microstories and how you interact with them.
It will help your entrepreneurial brand to identify values that you have that relate to making the world a better place.
To keep this process inductive, and to find your authentic values, don’t begin this process by searching for specific qualities. Take an open-minded approach and identify as many values as possible.
For example, in my above microstory, I showed that I’m a planner and tenacious. I also showed that I value other cultures and interpersonal communication.
After doing this step, you should be able to come up with a list of what you value the most in this world. This will be illustrative of who you are as a person. You’ll see that some of your written values communicate the same thing. Like, I valued both human connection and community. When I looked into the literature on these two topics, the terms were often used interchangeably. So I combined the term to be one value of connection.
You’ll also notice that you’ll have values that repeat. Count up the occurrences for each value. This will allow you to find your 3-5 top values.
For example, after re-reading all my microstories, I found that I highly value human connection, resilience, creativity, and empathy.
Before you move onto the next step, double-check your most prevalent values by seeing if they vibe well with your INFJ qualities. Do they go well with your introvert, intuitive, feeling and orderly qualities? Do they fit with what else you know of yourself? If not, adjust them a bit until they feel right for your brand values.
Magnify Your Storied Values
When you have your backstory written down, and you use that to identify your world values, you’ll have a foundation for a brand that will go the distance. You can use versions of your micro-backstories in all of your marketing content and in your about page. This way you’ll connect more strongly with the people that you want to work with. To give you an example, see how I set up my own about page.
You can also use your storied world values to help you set up your business structure. For example, I use a networking strategy to get more business connections. I also have a 1:1 consulting service that is my main offer. I do both of these because I highly value human connection.
Finally, you can use your values to guide what you do when you have to make difficult business decisions. Every business owner has to decide who they’ll work with and who they won’t. One of my strongest values is empathy. I have a long history of helping brands that help others. But one day a meat importing company made me a great offer. The work would have been nice to have. But when I thought of how highly I valued empathy, I decided to say “no”. I felt good about that, and it went well with my concern for the environment and the emotions of all living things.
I’ll be honest. I got a business degree back in the day thinking that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. But it took me a lot of pivoting and testing to feel confident enough to go out on my own.
Once I got the confidence, getting my first clients wasn’t easy. But that’s because I hadn’t analyzed my own backstory for my own values. I set up my business value proposition from a cursory analysis of my strengths without having much backing me up.
But when I re-branded myself to be value-centered and include my micro-backstories, then things got a lot easier. Now I also have more ambitious business owners contacting me to know how they can do the same thing that I did.
I’ll end this article on a positive note. Current indicators are that about 50 percent of micro-businesses survive past 5 years. But as an INFJ and by following value-centered and storytelling strategies, you’re more likely than most to succeed.
Written by: Bryn Bonino
Bryn Bonino is a branding strategist who uses storytelling as a tool to guide ambitious micro-business owners to attract their ideal clients. She’s an intuitive, creative, and organized INFJ. Bryn periodically offers a course to guide entrepreneurs through an introspective process to find their own unshakable brands. Sign up for notifications here.