Dyslexia and Entrepreneurship
While 10% of the UK population is dyslexic, 19% of the UK’s entrepreneurs are dyslexic.1 Although no two dyslexic people are the same, this statistic certainly shows that dyslexics have an entrepreneurial flair.
Dyslexia can present itself in so many different ways and provide individuals with unique strengths. It just so happens that many of these strengths are highly useful in business. I first began my journey as an entrepreneur six years ago, when I set up my own marketing agency, Little Seed Group. In the day-to-day running of my business, I’ve found that being dyslexic has provided me with unique skills.
Creativity in Business
For example, dyslexic individuals, myself included, can be especially creative. While there is no research proving the direct link between dyslexia and heightened creativity, it has been suggested that high levels of creativity in dyslexic individuals may be a result of the non-conventional methods of learning that we explore to make strenuous tasks easier.
Creativity is probably the most important trait you need to succeed in marketing. Coming up with unique and innovative campaign ideas is a highly coveted skill. I’m able to come up with newsworthy stories for my PR clients quickly and easily.
Not only has my dyslexic creativity been an asset to me in marketing. It’s been a huge advantage to me in my entrepreneurial journey. In the competitive world of business, you need something different to give you an edge over others in your field.
Creativity is closely related to problem-solving. My dyslexia means I can spot patterns early on, identifying potential problems and solutions long before others do. The beauty of this is that I can plan ahead to avoid potential pitfalls. I can help businesses to manage problems when they do arise, keeping their reputation intact.
We’re told throughout our school years to think outside of the box. What they often don’t tell you is that being dyslexic can help you to do this better than your non-dyslexic peers. In fact, when I was diagnosed at age 22, my university called me, and I quote, a “lost cause”. How wrong they were!
Dyslexia and Unique Skills
A study by Cass Business School found that dyslexic entrepreneurs had key skills which may give them an advantage when starting their own business.2 Firstly, they identified that dyslexic entrepreneurs tend to have excellent oral communication skills. They can persuasively communicate a vision of how their business would succeed.
They found that dyslexic entrepreneurs were also able to delegate tasks to others. Entrepreneurs would bring in other people to compensate for their weaker areas, like reading and writing. This provided them with more time to use their strengths. Finally, they found that dyslexic entrepreneurs had harnessed and embraced their ability to think differently from others.
The study suggests that dyslexic entrepreneurs develop these skills early on, as they develop coping strategies to overcome tasks they find difficult. Plus, being self-employed potentially means that entrepreneurs can organise their working environment to suit their needs.
Clearly, there are some huge advantages to working with dyslexic entrepreneurs. Our oral ability means we are able to communicate our ideas and build relationships really effectively. We are excellent at thinking of unique solutions.
Unfortunately, misconceptions of dyslexia are a challenge that I am continually overcoming. In my experience, most people are unaware of the strengths that dyslexic professionals can bring to the table, as many articles tend to focus on the negatives of dyslexia, which doesn’t help anyone.
I am always working to help others understand the value of working with people who think differently, whether through one on one conversations or public speaking engagements.
I talk to potential clients about the beauty of dyslexia, and how I see it as a learning difference rather than a disability. Then, most of them come to see how my work and abilities can be a huge benefit to their business. It’s all about self-confidence and painting a complete picture for someone with your words.
When I first embarked on my business journey, I took part in a Dyslexic Entrepreneur Scheme, which sadly is no longer available. This sparked my interest in starting my own business and improved my confidence. But not everyone has access to support like this, and dyslexic individuals often aren’t educated at school about the strengths dyslexia can give them, and how well-suited they could be to certain career paths.
Dyslexics need to be made aware of their potential from an early stage, rather than being dismissed as a “lost cause” like I was.
Of course, I’m not saying that entrepreneurship is for every dyslexic person. Entrepreneurship can be tough, and it doesn’t appeal to everyone, nor do we all have the same strengths and weaknesses to help us succeed. But we all have so much to offer in business, and it’s about time that we gain the confidence to pursue our dreams from an early age.
- Logan, J. (2001). “Entrepreneurial success: A study of the incidence of dyslexia in the entrepreneurial population and the influence of dyslexia on success”. PhD thesis, Bristol University
- Logan, J. and Martin, N. (2021). “Unusual Talent: a Study of Successful Leadership and Delegation in Entrepreneurs who have Dyslexia” The Journal of Inclusive Practise in Further and Higher Education. Iss 4.1.