Uncovering the personality of small business owners

There are many personality traits that contribute and define Small Business owners, all​ entrepreneurs certainly work extremely hard and love what they do even if it is rarely glamorous, risk taking or disruptive​.

We wanted to explore the different nature and characteristics of people that make up our small business community to see how these shape and define many aspects of running a business.

We recognise that some skills come more naturally to people who are more outgoing, while those who are more reserved might naturally excel in other areas. As a small business owner, personality will also directly impact the way the business is run.

No matter where you are in the spectrum, understanding whether you’re energized by spending time around other people or through alone time can be important for your business’s success.

Both extroverts and introverts have their roles to play in business. Not only do these personality traits determine leadership style but they also impact how bosses manage their staff, how they interact with their suppliers and how they approach the different challenges and opportunities that come their way.

We asked business owners about the growth prospects of their business in the next 6 months, the effects of lockdown on how their businesses operated and what they will take from the experience of remote working going forward, and their approaches to winning business and continuing growth in 2021.

The research was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,004 small business owners in November 2020, and the survey reviewed their year trading as they looked forward to 2021.

When we asked the panel of Small Business owners to identify their personality type, two-thirds (67%) described themselves as Introverts and one-third (33%) Extroverts.


Introvert bosses overall were most likely to be found as modest well-being champions​, quietly confident in what they do, more cautious about the outlook of their business and growth prospects in the next 3-6 months than extrovert bosses. They were found to be most dominant in the manufacturing, construction and education sectors across varied industry sectors. The effect of the pandemic on introvert bosses was also different to that of extrovert bosses. For many introvert bosses working remotely, they were more likely to have noticed a greater sense of focus across their workforce and more likely to have felt productivity had improved as their staff had a greater sense of independence.

Listening and Caring

Introvert bosses generally have good listening skills which is reflected by a focus on staff's welfare health and well-being. ​They were ​more likely to have offered their staff flexible working hours than extrovert bosses which reflected they had a greater trust in their staff to work at potentially different times to them.

In addition, encouraging them to take regular breaks from work and time away from screens or encouraging daily exercise was more apparent than extrovert bosses.

We would generally see Introvert bosses as more accommodating of staff's personal circumstances, such as having ​time off if they had a young child or an elderly relative that needed care or being more available to their staff by having ​an open-door policy. There is no time for office politics or situations arising around staff conflict, nor competition between team members. It is about keeping on top of Government guidelines ensuring staff feel safe at work and their well-being is catered for.


Extrovert bosses exhibited several characteristics that reflected their positive, tenacious and generosity of spirit. ​They ​were the most optimistic in their growth outlook despite such a turbulent year - overall 37% despite being dominant in some of the sectors most impacted by the pandemic – retail and hospitality.

Business appetite

Extrovert bosses ​were found to be hungrier and some of the most tenacious when it came to winning new business, with 86% saying they were looking to bring on board new clients and customers next year (versus 79% of introverts). For this group winning new business with face to face (lockdown permitting) business networking with colleagues all featured as tactics in seeking new opportunities.

Social media was also core to business with over a quarter who said social media posts were key to winning new business.


We know successful business owners have ​all ​types of personalities not just one. What they have in common regardless of their personality type, is an awareness and know how to both play to their strengths and outsource tasks that don’t come naturally to them​.

Small Businesses can take advantage of their strengths of passion, flexibility and agility ​whether introvert or extrovert they have different strengths but recognising and understanding what these are is what gives a business its competitive advantage​.