Running a business with ADHD?
Come off it!
How could my ADHD mind handle running a successful business, staying organised and delivering for clients daily?
When it comes to entrepreneurship, the qualities one brings to the table can be the difference between success and failure.
You might already be in on the secret or about to have your neurodiverse mind blown.
Want to know what I know?
Being an ADHD entrepreneur might be one of your greatest assets in the business world!
ADHD as an Entrepreneurial "Superpower" 🦸♀️
I prefer to use the "Superpower" analogy sparingly.
I find it cliched and a little deprecating, but in all honesty, ADHD can be an unsung superpower for entrepreneurship.
So many famous entrepreneurs with ADHD have shattered ceilings and rewritten the rules of their industries.
Neurodiversity, on the whole, has proven itself to be an asset outside of the confines of the standard 9-5, paycheck-to-paycheck routine.
ADHD doesn’t just bring challenges; it brings unique strengths, often overlooked or misunderstood.
It’s important to note that the entrepreneurial people with ADHD tend to display more symptoms and traits of impulsivity and hyperactivity over innattentiveness (remember, there’s a few varieties of ADHD!).
Studies highlight that “People high on these ADHD symptoms have a bias toward rapid action without much deliberation. This seems to be well adapted to the entrepreneurship context” (Yu et al. 2019).
Essentially, many people with ADHD tend to think outside the box and take quick action in situations neurotypicals might feel too risky.
The way I look at it, we don't just think outside the box; we think about what we can do with it.
It usually results from adapting to neurotypical environments and finding our coping mechanisms. We get thrifty with what we are handed and develop new ways of tackling problems to find unique solutions.
We're also likely to embrace risks and have a fire of creativity that can fuel innovative ventures. Our hyperactive minds and restlessness drive us to achieve continually. And yes, it has downsides, but all things in life do!
Psychiatrist Dr Dale Archer accounts for ADHD as one of the core pillars for success amongst some of the world's elites.
He notes Sir Richard Branson, who has publicly shared his experience with ADHD, and even speculates king of Apple, Steve Jobs, may have also had ADHD.
Now I don't know about you, but that gets the motivation simmering!
7 Reasons Why ADHD is a “Superpower” for Entrepreneurs? 👩💼
ADHD and entrepreneurship? The perfect match?
I'd have never thought of it, but then I've met people with ADHD, and I am yet to find a single one who fits the myth of "laziness", "incompetent", or "stupid".
They are the most driven people I know, constantly looking for new things to get their teeth stuck into.
Studies suggest that ADHD traits like the need for stimulation, love for multitasking, and frequent attention shifting are tailor-made for the entrepreneurial world.
It’s not a coincidence then that people with ADHD are twice more likely to become entrepreneurs.
All those things you've probably been told are negative traits when working for someone else. They're your ticket to a world of exploration and creative freedom when taking the plunge into self-employment.
1. Willingness to Take Risks
Let me tell you from personal experience: entrepreneurial life is uncertainty central.
Those of us with ADHD seem naturally equipped to navigate these choppy seas.
We're not only risk-takers but risk enthusiasts, seeing possibilities where others see pitfalls.
2. Ability to Hyperfocus
Our good friend Hyperfocus, it's the business partner you never knew you needed!
When truly invested in a task, people with ADHD can zone into hyperfocus, dedicating undivided attention and effort.
Within this process, we unlock extra creativity and analysis skills that dig deep into a problem to find a path towards awesomeness.
3. Creativity: Flow of Ideas & Resourcefulness
Every business hurdle is an opportunity for an innovative solution. It sets off our hyperfocus, the new excitement of a challenge.
While doing something for others can lead us to fall into a pit of self-esteem issues, working on projects we're interested in and pursuing personal growth taps into our detective mindsets.
Problem? You mean 500 solutions deeply researched, tried and tested!
ADHD entrepreneurs, with our constant stream of ideas, often approach problems with unparalleled resourcefulness.
In previous roles, I was often told to simmer down...stay in line with my job. I'd get frustrated; why could no one see the solutions?
Now I run a business; I get to help other entrepreneurs find these solutions. I've been nicknamed an ideas machine and often call myself "a spare brain" in the most wholesome ways". I can bring new perspectives and let my mind roll with ideas so others can inspire their creativity!
4. High Energy & Restlessness
Restlessness can sometimes be frustrating.
And yet, in the business world, it can drive ambition, pushing ADHD entrepreneurs to strive for more constantly.
That's the whole point of being an entrepreneur.
I recently felt overwhelmed by my to-do list because no matter how much I caught up, it always seemed to grow.
Then, in conversation with my partner, I realised it always will grow. Because I'm always searching for new projects, goals and everything in between!
5. Divergent Thinking
ADHD entrepreneurs often view the world differently, recognising opportunities and solutions others might overlook.
As I said earlier, we must navigate the world differently because our brains are wired differently.
One of my main annoyances surrounding ADHD talk, it isn't a mental illness. It's a neurological condition.
We can't change our brains entirely, but we can adapt them.
These adaptive skills allow us to become attuned to new ways of perceiving our environments. How the world has been designed often doesn't serve most of us. It's why we can bring divergent thinking to help identify these problems and suggest how to improve the world for everyone!
6. Thriving in Times of Crisis
In business, crises are inevitable.
If you're anything like me, you're probably nodding to yourself, saying "same, same" when you think about your life.
The ADHD entrepreneur? We thrive under pressure, often turning challenges into opportunities.
Look at the way you tackle deadlines; you may thrive from them because that nudge of impending demand tickles your brain waves into action.
So, yes, panic will no doubt follow when a crisis happens but give it a hot beat, and you'll be right into action!
7. Highly Intuitive
Our intuition, combined with our unique perspective, often guides us toward innovative solutions and decisions
What might seem obvious to you hasn't even been considered by someone else.
Lock into it and bring that intuitive nature to the surface because, trust me, it's needed.
Inspirational Stories: 5 Successful Entrepreneurs with ADHD 🪐
1. Richard Branson: Virgin
The visionary behind Virgin attributes some of his out-of-the-box thinking to his ADHD.
As a writer, I've fallen madly in love with Virgin's approach to branding and inclusivity.
They celebrate differences and are immensely fun with their content and copy (check Virgin Atlantic and the Virgin Trains booking app).
And think what you will of billionaires, but anyone with ADHD can relate to the feeling of wanting to design a spaceship and traverse outer space!
2. Ingvar Kamprad: IKEA
Following instructions? Bore off!
Ingvar Kamprad, the mastermind of IKEA, turned his ADHD into a blueprint for one of the world's most recognisable brands.
He also has dyslexia, so combined with his ADHD, he found a way to make furniture building and business operations more streamlined.
And you don't have to have ADHD to know how simple IKEA furniture is to build.
Organising all the little nuts and bolts, though, that's a different story!
3. David Neeleman: JetBlue
The founder of JetBlue credits his ADHD with his ability to think creatively and innovate within the airline industry.
Just thinking about the complexity of air travel makes my brain hurt, but it makes a lot of sense that given the positive neurodiverse traits, he has made the complex simpler.
4. Emma Watson
If I were to ask you to think of one on-screen character who has all the answers to every question, Hermoine Granger would come top of the list!
I was shocked to learn that actress Emma Watson, a straight-A student and Oxford grad, had been diagnosed with ADHD.
She isn't Hermoine, but there's no denying she's one smart cookie in real life who is a successful actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador!
5. Michael Jordan
And let’s not forget Michael Jordan!
While primarily known for being the basketball G.O.A.T 🐐, his entrepreneurial journey with the Charlotte Hornets, the Air Jordan franchise with Nike, and his automotive business interests showcases MJ’s potential as an ADHD entrepreneur.
Overcoming the Challenges of ADHD as an Entrepreneur 💪
ADHD offers many advantages in entrepreneurship.
That being said, it's not without its tricky parts.
With every win, there is bound to be some loss, so understanding what obstacles you may face is imperative to keep yourself moving forward as a business owner.
Difficulties with Time Management, Organisation, and Focus
Being your boss requires impeccable time management skills, a challenge for many ADHD entrepreneurs.
Using tools and strategies, like Deepwrk's ADHD body doubling app, can be game-changing.
Not feeling motivated?
Don't worry, your buddies have got you, and you'll get a virtual high five for ticking those tasks off your list in our accountability partner app. Boom!
Dealing with Hyperfocus, Burnout & Finding Work-Life Balance
Right, let's get one thing straight.
Hyperfocus can be an asset, BUT it also means an increased risk of burnout.
Take it from one business owner clawing out of burnout as we speak!
Balancing business and personal life is essential. Please, please, please, do not ignore the importance of routine!
Engage in self-care practices, set realistic expectations, and use resources like ADHD coworking to streamline tasks.
And be honest with yourself. Running at 100% capacity means no time to take on the unexpected. When these things inevitably crop up, you'll constantly catch your tail.
Create a buffer, and don't be afraid to delegate. The earlier, the better.
Get to the gym, walk, and spend time with family and friends because success is great, but it means very little at the cost of your physical and emotional health.
Take a day (or two) off each week - your business will not stop, instead it will run better when you are fresh and recharged.
Addressing Imposter Syndrome, ADHD RSD & Emotional Regulation
I regularly experience a sense of impending doom, especially when tired, which tells me, "Hey, you're not supposed to be here", coupled with "Everyone thinks you're crap, you know?".
Shhh, imposter gremlin, no one asked for your input!
Building resilience, seeking support, and focusing on emotional regulation can be pivotal.
It's normal to feel self-doubt and worry, but the isolation of running a business can amplify these thoughts, so find mechanisms to put them aside sooner rather than later!
Final Thoughts 🧠
I quit my regular "job" almost 18 months ago.
While the path I've taken isn't for everyone, I can attest to never being more grateful and excited about the work I do every day.
Yes, it is bloody hard!
Some days, I feel I've fluked it.
But the only thing I fluked was managing to stay employed in roles that never aligned with my mindset for so long.
Neurodiverse brains belong in entrepreneurship.
And if you don't believe me, there's countless research to prove it.
Just because we can, though, doesn't mean we should until we've addressed our challenges, done a bit of healing and figured out what we enjoy.
As I see it, if you don't enjoy what you're doing, you shouldn't be doing it.
Now, you have to accept you're not going to have a whale of a time with EVERY business task you do, but if your mission is something that drives you, your ADHD will surely help you get there.
Find the tools and systems to help you thrive and show the world who's boss!
Is ADHD an entrepreneur’s superpower?
Entrepreneurs have many powers. ADHD may very well be one of them.
If you want to stick to the superpower analogy, remember that all superheroes also have their kryptonite.
Just because you have ADHD, it doesn't guarantee you'll be successful unless you know how to manage it!
Can I get financial support as an ADHD entrepreneur?
If you live in the UK you can get financial support for ADHD through the Access to Work ADHD grant.
It provides funds for reasonable adjustments at work (but cannot be used to fund startup costs).
How can I improve time management as an ADHD entrepreneur?
Deepwrk's strategies, like body doubling and ADHD coworking have upped the game for me.
Also, time management tools like Asana are a brilliant way for me to "download my brain" and keep track of all my ideas.
What are some recommended productivity tools for ADHD entrepreneurs?
Have a look at the best ADHD productivity tools for a comprehensive list of productivity apps tailored for ADHD entrepreneurs.
I'd also advocate for automating workflows, using AI to leverage productivity, and using accountability partner app to have another human to bounce ideas off and help you stay on track!
How can I prioritise self-care as an ADHD entrepreneur?
Treat it with the same importance as work.
Put it in your diary, get an accountability partner, and add it to your daily to-do list.
Always ensure you're setting realistic goals and expectations.
Take a day off each week to recharge. Make a routine and stick to it!