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Starting a Business as a Neurodivergent Entrepreneur

Starting a Business as a Neurodivergent Entrepreneur 

Education

Though neurodiversity and entrepreneurship are not two things that are widely discussed together, they actually go hand in hand quite well. In fact, some of the world’s most prominent CEOs are or were neurodivergent, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk. 

Some even see neurodivergence as an entrepreneurial superpower, as there are many special skills that neurodivergent individuals have that lend well to running a business. However, that being said, some people who are neurodivergent can also struggle more than others in some areas, but that doesn’t mean they are less than or incapable. 

This article will take a closer look at neurodivergence and how it relates to running a business, as well as tips and strategies for starting a business as a neurodivergent entrepreneur.  

Understanding Neurodivergence

Despite many in society viewing neurodivergence as having negative connotations, neurodiversity is something that should be embraced and is not something that makes someone broken. It just means their brain works a little differently than what is considered average or neurotypical, but they are still highly capable of living their life like anyone else and even easily excel in areas where some neurotypicals do not. 

Though neurodivergence is still widely misunderstood, a significant percentage of the population is, in fact, neurodivergent — between 15–20%. This is because neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of cognitive and developmental differences, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADD and ADHD, dyslexia, and Tourette’s syndrome. 

Overall, neurodivergence is somewhat of an umbrella term that includes many different conditions and cognitive differences that can impact various skills and areas of development. Some experts are even expanding neurodivergence to include those with various mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or general learning disabilities. 

How Being Neurodivergent Can Impact Running a Business

Though neurodivergence can come with its challenges, there are also many skills that neurodivergent individuals have that allow them to excel as entrepreneurs. As mentioned previously, there have already been many successful neurodivergent CEOs, and there will likely be many more to come in the future. 

So what is it exactly about neurodivergence that can be an advantage or a disadvantage when it comes to running a business?

The primary challenges of neurodivergence tend to be a struggle with socializing, focus, consistency, and productivity, which certainly can make running a company more difficult. However, by the time someone decides to become an entrepreneur, they have likely developed ways to overcome those challenges, which could actually result in them being more focused and organized than someone who is neurotypical.

Furthermore, those who identify as neurodivergent tend to be quite good at embracing creativity and innovation, two things that are essential when facing the many challenges of running a business and growing it into something successful.

For example, those with ASD are good at noticing patterns that others might miss, and they tend to be very good at understanding complex systems and accomplishing very detail-focused work. And those with ADD/ADHD are highly creative, adaptable, empathetic, and intuitive, which makes them great leaders who are capable of thinking outside the box.  

Tips for Starting a Business As a Neurodivergent Entrepreneur

As those who are neurodivergent primarily struggle with social skills, focus, and consistency, the key to becoming a successful neurodivergent entrepreneur is to find ways to combat those challenges. 

Set Smart Goals

To avoid losing focus and struggling with consistency, it’s crucial for neurodivergent entrepreneurs to develop clear goals and detailed plans for how they want to run their business and what they want to achieve. This will help give you a more direct path to follow that keeps you focused and in line with your goals, and helps to ultimately ensure you are running an efficient business

The five key factors in developing a solid business strategy include smart goals that are:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-based

Hire the Right People

You can’t run a business by yourself. Anyone looking to become an entrepreneur needs the right team to help them build and grow their business into something successful — but this is especially important for neurodivergent CEOs. 

You know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, so it’s important to hire people who can help balance you out and bring skills to the table that you are perhaps lacking. For example, if you struggle with organization, it can be helpful to hire others who are highly organized and can help you in that area. 

Stay Organized

Even if you are not great at organization and you hire others who are, it’s still important for you to work on developing those skills yourself. You are going to be the CEO, after all, so you need to have some level of organization yourself to run your business successfully. 

Creating a clear and detailed daily, weekly, and monthly work productivity schedule can help. Neurodivergent individuals can struggle to stay focused and on task without clear and direct guidance, so creating a detailed schedule can give you something to reference to help you stay on track. 

Learn to Prioritise and Develop Good Time Management

Getting things done on time and knowing which tasks are more important is essential to running a business and staying productive. This goes hand in hand with staying organized and creating a detailed work schedule. 

So, in addition to mapping your schedules out, it’s also helpful to make note of which things are high priority, medium priority, and low priority, as well as how long it should take to get each thing done. While it might seem like a lot of work to do this all the time, it can be incredibly helpful in teaching you better organization, focus, and time management skills. And over time, you might learn to do these things naturally so that you don’t always have to create such a detailed plan or schedule. 

Develop Leadership Skills

Developing the right leadership skills, such as effective communication, is essential for neurodivergent entrepreneurs. Those who are neurodivergent can struggle to talk and behave the same as neurotypicals, but you must learn to adapt if you are going to have success running your business. 

So it’s important to work on developing your social and communication skills. This will help you communicate more effectively, inspire and motivate your staff, help you empathize, and will overall help you make better decisions. Learning to communicate better will also make you more approachable and trustworthy, which is essential when you are trying to connect with others and establish business relationships.  

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Running a business is stressful. It takes a lot of time, focus, and effort and can easily become overwhelming, especially for someone who is neurodivergent. So while it’s important to stay focused and on task as an entrepreneur, it’s also important to pay attention to your mental and even physical needs and take breaks when you need to. 

If you run yourself into the ground, you could also end up running your business into the ground as well. So remember to take time for yourself to take care of your needs. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of an entire business and a whole staff of people who also have needs? 

Final Thoughts

Overall, running a business, no matter who you are, is about acquiring the right skills and the right people to help you. If you struggle to stay focused and organized, use the right tools and systems and hire more organized people to help you stay on task. If you are very detailed and technologically oriented but struggle to be creative and flexible, hire a highly creative marketing team to help balance that side of yourself out. 

Again, it’s all about knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are and finding ways to adapt by using the right strategies and hiring the right people. If you can do that, there is no reason why you can’t have success as a neurodivergent entrepreneur.

Starting a Business as a Neurodivergent Entrepreneur