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8 Key Tips To Become A Successful Business Owner With ADHD

For the last decade, I have built a variety of successful online businesses by harnessing the power and creativity of my ADHD brain.

In this post, I want to share what I’ve learned about running a successful business with ADHD.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is often perceived as a disadvantage. Difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, restlessness—how could these symptoms not get in the way of doing important things well?

This is the wrong way to look at it.

Many entrepreneurs have found success while managing symptoms of ADHD—in fact, the unique features of ADHD can be advantageous in many settings.

Both Richard Branson (founder of Virgin) and Ingvar Kamprad (founder of IKEA) are examples of entrepreneurs with ADHD. Studies have found links between ADHD and the tendency to become an entrepreneur, others show how different traits can benefit entrepreneurial endeavours.

People with ADHD are often great at coming up with creative ideas and thinking outside the box, better at multitasking, and more inclined to take the types of risks entrepreneurship demands.

But they can also struggle to focus for extended periods on routine tasks (unless intensely interested in them, then the opposite can occur), as well as with time management and organisational activities.

To become an entrepreneur it pays to find ways to maximise the time spent on tasks you enjoy and that you’re good at, and less time on those you struggle with.

This is true of entrepreneurs with ADHD and those without, but if you belong to the former group, how can you take advantage of your particular strengths to become a neurodivergent business leader?

My Tips For Becoming A Successful Entrepreneur With ADHD

If you’re a business owner struggling with your ADHD then here are some of my best tips for shifting your perception and habits to turn ADHD from a weakness into a strength:

1. Identify Your Individual Strengths and Weaknesses

While ADHD often entails similar characteristics, everybody is different and only you know what you’re good at and what you most enjoy doing.

Think about what skills and knowledge you have, how your mind works, what you like and dislike spending your time on, and what frustrates you and what comes easy. This will help you gain a picture of what requirements and constraints you have for the business you want to start.

2. Take Advantage of Your Creativity

There’s some research suggesting divergent thinking ability is higher in people with ADHD, so hopefully generating ideas shouldn’t be too difficult—just make sure you act on them too.

You’ll need to identify what the most promising ones are, and ensure they align with the skills you identified above, then get started on implementing them.

Recognise that not every idea will succeed, so you’ll also need to get used to discarding those that don’t fit or that don’t materialise.

As long as you push through with the best of them, continue to iterate and learn from the failures, success will find its way to you.

3. Make Technology Work For You

Use digital tools to help manage all the tasks and activities you don’t want to do yourself. These days there are ample online tools to help tackle a wide range of business-related tasks, and AI is moving ahead by leaps and bounds.

Whether it’s creating social media posts and sharing them across networks, enlisting a chatbot that can help talk to users and answer their questions, or a virtual assistant to help with time management and organisational tasks.

A quick search is likely to yield many possible routes for freeing up your time so that you can do what you most enjoy.

4. Break Tasks Down Into Small Chunks

Smaller tasks are more easy to manage, and the quicker you can accomplish them the less chance there is you’ll be distracted.

Plus, if you’re the type that enjoys multitasking and jumping between different activities, you’ll have plenty of different goals to cycle through.

Of course, you’ll also feel that rewarding sense of accomplishment as you continually tick items off the list, which helps generate even more motivation.

5. Create an Environment that Helps You Focus

Designate a dedicated workspace in your home or office for work alone, and try to keep it clean and organised.

As you work, eliminate potential distractions by turning off your phone notifications and using website blockers, grab a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and turn on some binaural beats or even white noise—not music, however, as that turns out to be another distraction.

Nothing will ensure you don’t get distracted, but you don’t want to make it any easier by immersing yourself in environments with too many things vying for your precious attention.

6. Choose Wisely Who You Surround Yourself With

It’s immensely beneficial to have a support system of people you trust and who understand you, who can offer valuable advice and help you with the difficulties and obstacles you face along the way.

If and when you start building a team to help manage the day-to-day business activities, find people with different qualities and skill sets that can complement each other’s abilities.

You could also consider group business coaching, which involves a group of entrepreneurial people meeting regularly to help with all the difficulties of starting and running a business, and which can provide valuable personalized support.

7. Put the You in Your Business

Don’t try to sound like someone else, it often ends up sounding cold and robotic, too corporate and car-salesman-like.

Authenticity is valuable and these days people connect with businesses and brands that feel genuine and human. Transparency and honesty help build trust with your customers and connect with them on a deeper level, so let your unique personality and quirks shine through.

8. Take Care of Your Mental Health

The better you are health-wise, the more effectively you’ll be able to manage your business.

Take frequent breaks to recharge and maintain focus, as well as holidays and longer breaks to avoid burnout; ensure you’re getting enough sleep each night as a lack of it can degrade decision-making and increase stress; practice mindfulness and meditation; spend time with friends; exercise and eat right.

All of these are easy to get pushed aside when you’re managing many work-related goals, but it’s essential to keep a good work-life balance.

Find Your Own Way

You’re a unique individual, and following a strict plan or guide that worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you.

You need to think about who you are and identify your individual strengths and weaknesses—and ADHD is not a weakness.

Find ways to put yourself in situations to capitalise on your abilities. Engage in some trial and error, and then you can start building your own system that works for you.

The most important thing is not to give up, don’t think that just because some traditional business plan or recommendation isn’t working it means that you are not good enough. There are many routes to a successful business, you need to find what works for you.

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