Did you know that business owners and entrepreneurs 300% more likely to have ADHD? This fact becomes unsurprising when you study the characteristics of ADHD.
For decades, most people associated ADHD only with a hyperactive boy who couldn’t sit still in class.
But it turns out that the same restlessness seen in hyperactive boys helps people with ADHD become brilliant problem solvers, courageous risk-takers, rule-breakers, innovators, and action-oriented visionaries.
And if that doesn’t sound like a born entrepreneur, I don’t know what does.
I can say that as an entrepreneur with ADHD, my ADHD traits are responsible for my strongest business assets and my biggest barriers.
I am a 28 year old inattentive ADHD entrepreneur, writer, artist and lifestyle brand owner. BerryLemon. The multifaceted aspect of entrepreneurship is complicated by my executive dysfunction (more on that later).
In this article, I want to explore entrepreneurs with ADHD, executive dysfunction, and workarounds that I find indispensable.
Table of Contents
A hyperactive-dominant male-centric view of ADHD
In neurological terms, the ADHD brain is simply different from its neurotypical (non-ADHD) counterpart. Interestingly, the brains of women and men with ADHD also often differ from each other.
The reason most of us think of ADHD as a hyperactive boy disrupting school is because boys with ADHD are more likely to show their anxiety in appearance, while girls with ADHD often internalize it.
Because of this, research and diagnostic tools are often biased towards male-dominated hyperactive manifestations. But there’s another subgroup of women with ADHD that’s most common in women, and that’s inattentive ADHD.
Inattentive ADHD is widely underestimated and often overlooked in young girls. But these undiagnosed girls grow up into young adults who are left wondering why as adults it’s so hard for them to start completing tasks, focus, motivate and work their stamina.
These people with ADHD are typically not hyperactive adventurers but ambitious idea machines paralyzed by their own perfectionism and anxiety.
However, regardless of the subtype, one of the main problems with ADHD is caused by executive dysfunction.
Executive dysfunction and the business owner
Whether you know it or not, your brain’s executive functions are the biggest asset of your career. For entrepreneurs with ADHD, executives dysfunction may be their biggest obstacle.
So what is executive dysfunction and how does it affect entrepreneurship?
Executive functioning is a cognitive ability that directly aids in achieving goals and preparing for future events. Executive functioning affects task initiation, concentration, memory, organization, planning, prioritization, emotional regulation, self-control, and self-control.
When you work for yourself by managing your time, your team, and the organization’s business goals, executive functioning significant.
Executive dysfunction, often seen in people with ADHD, can cause behavioral problems that interfere with long-term goals.
While my ADHD is great at finding opportunities in the world to solve problems, it also makes it difficult achieve the goal.
Common Symptoms of Executive Dysfunction
If you’re wondering what executive dysfunction looks like in a real application, keep reading to learn about the symptoms below:
- Blindness of time: Loss of track of time, resulting in late or missed classes.
- Breakdown of long-term goals: Difficulties with long-term planning. In a business context, you may have a brilliant idea, but find it hard to break it down into actionable, long-term steps.
- Organizational blunders: Problems with maintaining order in the physical and mental world. This can be exacerbated further by our impulsiveness – although we may plan a to-do list, our attention is impulsive and interest-based.
- Impulsiveness and emotionality: It may seem emotionally intense. In general, this is neither good nor bad, but impulsivity plus emotional imbalance can lead to some mistakes in the workplace.
- Focus control: You can start with one task and find a nugget of inspiration/problem to solve in that task, which then takes you on a completely unrelated side quest. Although you are technically focused, you may not be focused on what you “should be”.
- Hyperfocus and task switching: Yes, people with ADHD have problems with preservation focus, but they may also have trouble with directed attention. Hyperfocus can feel like you’re spending an entire day creating an expense spreadsheet using every conceivable Excel trick – you know you only wanted to spend 20 minutes on this, but it’s been 5 hours and you don’t know where your day went.
Problems also have positive qualities
It’s clear why working in a structured 9 to 5 can be difficult for someone with executive dysfunction or ADHD. Corporate positions are neither stimulating nor flexible, and we require both. We are easily bored and easily disappointed by the corporate status quo.
This is why many of us end up freelancing, part-time jobs, and building a business. Entrepreneurs with ADHD find excitement, variety, risk, pleasure, and freedom in working for themselves.
While ADHD can create problems for entrepreneurs, it can also make them extremely creative, multi-talented, resilient, persistent, innovative, optimistic, spontaneous, and compassionate advocates.
But yes, we will completely forget that you put this planning meeting on our calendar.
So here are the workarounds every ADHD entrepreneur should know.
If you’ve read this far (or, let’s be honest, you’ve read this far), you might see yourself in what I’m describing.
ADHD and executive dysfunction are extremely common. Many of us deal with this to one degree or another. But when you are an entrepreneur and self-employed, these problems can get worse and create problems within your business partnership.
At 27, I started my own e-commerce company with my brother. Pretty quickly, I began to look for answers to the question of why I have so many problems with self-management. I love I work for myself and start a company with my brother, but there are definitely some serious problems for me.
Below is a list of what I think helps both the entrepreneur and the girl with ADHD.
You’ve heard it a million times, but if your mind runs at a mile a second, you necessity learn the skill of mindfulness. Slowing down the mind during a 10-minute morning meditation can help you be more organized throughout the day.
You might think you’re great at multitasking, but do you just start doing a bunch of tasks and never finish them all? Yeah. That’s why I started having themed days.
Every month or so, I choose 3-4 main topics that I need to consistently make progress on. I assign a day (most likely on a whim) to this overarching task. Content days, product search days, creative days, and planning days. I focus on completing this topic, and only this topic.
Having a theme helps me not to run in 10 different directions at the same time.
Do not disturb mode
Spirit. People with ADHD are very distractible. As long as I can click on a task, one email or message can distract me for hours. I put my phone on Do Not Disturb and remove that inevitability. If it’s an emergency, my phone allows the call (2 consecutive rings), but otherwise everything can wait.
If you want something to be done, they should wait, really.
You may think that you can do everything, and in fact, people with ADHD have many talents, and you probably maybe do it all. But you don’t have to. If certain tasks are difficult for you or take up too much attention, hire them. For details like video editing or bookkeeping, hire a freelancer to join your team. It goes a long way to getting things off your mental plate.
Light pressure and timing
The only reason I even graduated from college was the pressure of deadlines and the fear of failure. I knew what was expected of me, and deadlines often led to the (last-minute) rush needed to complete large projects. But the trick is to make external deadlines. I can move my own gates, but if someone else is waiting for me to work, I usually do it.
List of whims
Throughout the day, ideas will come to you that may upset your attention. So instead of trying to ignore the idea that’s circling around in your brain, write it down and come back to it. Knowing that you can return will allow your brain to relax and return to your focused task. I call it “my wish list” and go back to it when I’m ready to come up with something new.
Strive for success with ADHD
Seek inspiration from highly successful entrepreneurs or creative people with ADHD. While it can be difficult, it is entirely possible to be a very successful entrepreneur with ADHD. I have a list of people with ADHD who inspire me when I feel a little down.
Uh huh, structure
This is a love-hate relationship. People with ADHD resist rigid structure because we like to be in the flow, but we also necessity some structure. A structure that is too weak creates an environment where we can go a little crazy, spinning the wheels in too many directions, and ultimately never reach our goals. Light structure, however, you want to define it, can help you move forward.
High protein breakfast
ADHD causes dysregulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This may explain why we lose focus and seek high stimulation. Often this is a search for dopamine. Many things can help us keep our dopamine levels up (without mesmerizing ourselves with TikTok scrolling). High-protein breakfasts are a simple switch that can boost your focus for the day. Increasing your protein intake and cutting out carbs have been shown to improve focus.
In entrepreneurship, ADHD is a strength, but it also comes with unique challenges. If you know how to get around them, you can improve your business performance.
Whether you know for sure that you have ADHD or are just starting to wonder, nothing can hold you back with ADHD. Find out everything you can about it, define your personal goals, and keep moving towards them. Knowledge is power.