Research suggests that ADHD and being self-employed go hand in hand, and our own group of ADHDers would agree.
Celebrate difference was founded by Nicola, the self-employed owner of MINT Business Club and she is no exception to rule, and neither are the members of the team who are or have been self-employed; for whatever reason, we float like moths to the lightbulb of self-employment.
There are so many reasons we flock toward self-employment: The feeling we get with reward, Our need for certain work conditions to reach maximum potential, and communication needs. This doesn’t even include all the other reasons people choose to go self-employed.
Is there any actual reasoning behind it?
The short answer is our traits are very much suited to being our own boss, yes even the ones you may consider bad. The way we think can allow us to find different solutions and see different parts of a problem, the way we can focus on something so deeply and become so interested and passionate about it, our personalities can be so memorable and honest, the energy we can have, eager, risk-takers, spontaneous, creative….
All these things feed into being a great business owner.
There have been studies done about ADHD and the self employment, the one that came up the most in my research is this one all about “The association between attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) symptoms and self-employment”. In this study they looked at two groups: in both samples they found a positive association for ADHD symptoms, especially with hyperactive traits.
It’s not all about what traits of ours suit this lifestyle:
It’s if we have the urge to create something, itchy feet to move around and do lots of different things, what conditions do you need that you feel only you can create.
Being self employed with ADHD does have it’s difficulty mind!
Finding that headspace to get work done and not be dragging yourself through can be a difficult task for anyone but add all the brain chatter can leave you exhausted and not giving yourself peace.
The balance between stress and creativity is very real, especially for us more crafty ADHDers, finding the balance to keep yourself sane and still get everything done can feel like a tightrope.
Then their is, of course, making your company work for you. Are your employees the right people, are you working at the right time, are you facing towards where you want to be, if you’re self employed for ADHD reasons are you helping yourself?
Here’s what some of the members of our neurodiverse Facebook group said about being self employed!
In a Facebook poll we did we found that 82% of the 36 people that voted were self employed either fully or partly. We asked people the comment how they felt about it:
Nobody felt bad about the self employed rout they chose yet they all also expressed the level of stress they felt. Many had a love hate relationship with being self employed for this reason.
Someone expressed they couldn’t work for anyone else because they would be an “absolute flipping nightmare”.
Another expressed a love for the creativity they get to have and the benefit to them not being stuck on a rigid timeframe is as well as the previous persons struggle with a 9 to 5.
Finally we got a comment from someone currently in employment. They felt lots of pressure (and if you have ADHD you know how constant pressure can effect us) as well as saying the way they worked depended on the setting.
So who are some successful entrepreneurs with ADHD?
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the virgin group
Ingvar Kamprad , founder of IKEA
David Neeleman, founder of 5 airlines
Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko (now Fedex)
Denise Duffield Thomas, mentor and coach
It was slightly disheartening to look through this list with a lack of diversity but I know the business world holds so many fantastic entrepreneurs, and that as the stigma around diagnosis and ADHD goes down the list will grow.