ADHD & Entrepreneurship
Why are so many of us drawn to entrepreneurship?
We hate being told what to do
Many of us have oppositional defiance vibes - if not the full pathological disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, which is more common with ADHD. Working for ourselves can be a beautiful fit because we can be our own boss. We can have the freedom to do what we want when we want, and can structure our time and energy in ways that work better for us.
The flip-side of that is that we are accountable to ourselves, which means we need to self-motivate. That can be a challenge for anyone with ADHD, because we have challenges with executive function (self-management, organization, and prioritizing tasks) and less dopamine (which is the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and attention).
We have SO MANY IDEAS
Part of the superpower of ADHD is that we are exceptionally innovative. Being energetic, creative and used to thinking outside the box means we often have interesting ideas pouring through our minds. Being boredom-adverse means we may intentionally seek out more imaginative ways of living, creating and connecting. This is a huge strength when it comes to inventing things or creating work for ourselves.
The kicker: with inattentive and working-memory issues, starting a project, let alone finishing it can be quite difficult. Or even remembering what our ideas were in the first place. But we are capable of building systems to track our ideas and create our own structure for following through. There are more technological aids than ever (schedulers, apps for ADHD and motivation etc.) to help manage our symptoms.
We have a higher propensity to take risks
For those of us with the hyperactive-impulsive subtype of ADHD, we tend to be more spur of the moment, act first and think later, spontaneous doers. We are sensation-seekers with a tendency to do well under pressure and in crisis situations. This may mean we move forward with new projects or start a new business with less thought about failure or potential negative consequences.
On the other hand, we may give up more easily when we fail or hit a roadblock with a new endeavour. This can come from our speedily changing areas of interest, paired with our desire to have mastery from day one, or our propensity to struggle with asking for help.
We can be extraordinary jugglers
Even though technically there isn’t such a thing as multitasking (human brains just bounce from one thing to another consecutively) many ADHDers
tend to enjoy the variety of roles associated with running a business. “Wearing many hats” can suit us – from working with people, to performing administrative tasks, to networking with other organizations and building a social media presence – the mixture of responsibilities can be pleasing to our stimulation-seeking brains.
When we are passionate about a thing, we have the astounding ability to forget that the rest of the world exists while we engage with it fully for long periods of time. We may obsess about the topic and want to talk about it all the time, which can be beneficial for building a business or going back to school to learn more about it. So long as we are interested in the topic at hand, there are times we have the capacity to accomplish the work of many humans in one sitting.
On the rough side, hyperfocus often means we are so in “the zone” that we may temporarily forget our basic bodily needs like eating or using the washroom until we are hangry or bursting. Luckily, we can use tools like timers to ensure we don’t forget our existence whilst deep-diving into our most interesting project.
Harnessing unique abilities
A lot about career success depends on the kind of support a person has been able to access. If young people with ADHD aren’t diagnosed and given the accommodations or resources they may need to thrive with a divergent way of being, they may struggle to maintain employment at all. Many go without the opportunity to cultivate self-starter skills. In fact, people with ADHD have higher rates of unemployment, or are underemployed (which means being overqualified for work we are in) or have a higher likelihood of being underpaid.
We are adaptive problem-solvers
Life with ADHD means having a low tolerance for boredom. SO many things (sitting in an office in front of a computer doing mundane work all day) feels like death (dramatically put). We learn to navigate the world in terms of solving these deficits so our curious brains can be adequately stimulated. We are natural explorers, looking for solutions to be more efficient and effective (and ultimately to experience less pain or often to help others do the same). An empathetic nature, an adventurous spirit and excellent problem-solving skills are traits in many successful entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but for those of us with ADHD it may be a possibility worth exploring.