Dyslexia, often called a hidden disability, now coming into the mainstream in terms of understanding what makes people with dyslexia such amazing entrepreneurs. Are dyslexic entrepreneurs more likely to succeed? New research is beginning to show us exactly why this may just be the case.
Dr Julie Logan, a professor at Cass Business school in London, has conducted extensive research on the link between dyslexia and entrepreneurship. She found that 35% of the business owners surveyed in the United States and the United Kingdom were dyslexic.
Furthermore, dyslexic entrepreneurs are more likely to become self-made millionaires when compared to their non-dyslexic counterparts. They are also more likely to own multiple businesses rather than focusing all their efforts on a single enterprise.
People with dyslexia are highly likely to demonstrate the ability to:
- See the big picture – Understand complex ideas and translate them into something simple and clear. Leaders and visionaries see this way.
- Think visually – Dyslexics excel in spatial professions: engineering, art, architecture, medicine (especially surgery and orthopaedics) and design.
- Think outside the box – A great place to think. There you easily see the links between ideas and combine them to create something original.
- Write creatively- Imagination fuels amazing stories and ideas. So what if someone can’t spell? That’s why spell check exists.
- Possess a sharp memory – They rely on memory more than notes and the ability to recall details serves them well every day of your life.
- Understand people – Dyslexia can make things hard at times and that experience generates strong compassion and empathy for others.
- Be naturally curious- When we’re curious about and interested in what we are doing, we tend to be more involved, put more effort we put in and achieve more. Curiosity also deepens empathy and helps build strong relationships.
Thinking outside the box
After speaking to a number of dyslexics, I found adults with dyslexia tend to develop an array of coping skills in their formative years. In a traditional school system, a child with dyslexia must develop and use compensatory skills in order to avoid being labelled as a lazy or dumb, or to consistently fail written tests. It is these compensatory skills that work so well in entrepreneurship.
Seeing the big picture
It is the ability to see the big picture, without getting bogged down in the details, that allows the dyslexic entrepreneur to succeed where others might fail. Dyslexics are also forced to trust and rely on others to get things done – If you’re bogged down in the details, you’re not out there looking at the strategic direction of the company.
What gives a dyslexic entrepreneur the drive and determination to keep going when others would give up? As we said, dyslexic children are forced to persevere and come up with creative solutions to problems in order to avoid failure. It is because of these struggles that they are able to tackle and overcome problems in a business. Fighting to manage challenges in their early lives has given them the determination required to create and manage a successful business.
Dyslexia may hinder reading, but it strengthens other necessary skills. Dyslexic children learn to read people, and are good at choosing the best person to help them overcome a specific challenge. In a business setting, they are able to pick the best person for a job, and then delegate responsibilities based on skill set. The dyslexic business person has to overcome any desire for total control and trust others. The benefits of trusting others show in employee relations where the turnover rate is lower than in businesses run by those without dyslexia.
Communicating effectively is an important factor in the success of dyslexic entrepreneurs. Years of wading through written information has taught them to look for the important facts first. They are able to condense complex ideas and thoughts into easily understandable ideas and concepts, thus improving communication with employees, business partners and investors. They leave no room for questions about what they expect, their vision for their company or the goals they have set. Communication is a vital component of business practices, and the dyslexic business owner has been found to communicate more effectively than their counterparts.
When I told my friends and acquaintances that I plan to start a business, I kept hearing, “It won’t work. It can’t be done.” But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about manoeuvring their way around problems.
A business sinks or swims not because of the money that is put into it, but the ideas that are generated. Dyslexics have had to perfect the skill of creative thinking in order to cope with their own personal struggles, and this skill transfers easily into the business arena. The dyslexic entrepreneur is creative by instinct in many different ways. They don’t have to think for hours to come up with the best solution to a problem, the next great product idea, or the right words to say to customers and investors. It has become a part of who they are, and it serves them well when it comes to developing their businesses.
Dyslexia and Society
Dyslexia is too often seen as a burden to bear and society as a whole is not good at finding the positive attributes of it. Yet, dyslexia is so much more than reading difficulties and struggling to manage in a world that reveres the written word. In fact, it might be argued that dyslexia offers entrepreneurs exactly what they need to succeed. Far from being a hindrance, the studies conducted seem to prove it is the key to their success. I truly believe dyslexics are hardwired for business ownership and innovative endeavours. It is time to shift the focus from the weaknesses of dyslexia to its strengths. Perhaps it’s no wonder that so many people with dyslexia are entrepreneurs: being the boss means they call the shots and can mould their work environment in order to fully realise their personal skill set and become successful entrepreneurs.
About the author:
A founder of multiple startups Hader Ali is an innovation & business consultant.
Hader Ali Consultancy works with startups, SMEs, and large organisations. Specialising in business strategy, product/service development, sales & marketing.
To future-proof your business. Hader Ali Consultancy will work with your company to create an innovation portfolio by providing a framework for structured innovation. All while creating an ecosystem of ideas and a culture of innovation.