Unleash Your Creative Genius

Entrepreneurship: Yes, It CAN be a GREAT Career for ADHD Adults

ADHD adults often struggle in the corporate world. Many lose their jobs, often multiple times, because they don’t fit the corporate mold.

It’s little wonder they gravitate toward starting their own business, after all, you can’t be fired when you’re the boss! While entrepreneurship may initially just be a way of creating employment flexible enough to adapt to your way of working, it often turns out to be a great career move.

You minimize negative ADHD symptoms when you spend most of your time engaged in activities you’re passionate about and that play to your strengths.

I often help ADHD adults select their ideal career and we always consider as the following Top Criteria for a good career fit:

1. Your level of interest and passion for the work
2. A very high percentage of career activities will use your strengths, and
3. You can minimize work in areas of weakness.

Apply these criteria to entrepreneurship and you’ll see when it’s a great fit for ADHDers. What other career lets you design your perfect job description and delegate the rest away?

Little surprise, then, that studies indicate a large proportion (some estimates run as high as 60 %!) of entrepreneurs have diagnosed ADHD or have many of its traits.

While some people feel ADHDers are too disorganized to thrive in their own business without an imposed structure, many common ADHD traits: big-picture out-of-the-box thinking, creativity, high energy, ability to think on your feet and make quick decisions (otherwise known as impulsivity!), and a tolerance for risk, are the same characteristics found in successful entrepreneurs.

Running your own business can be challenging, but these entrepreneurs deal with the organizational needs of their business by creating structure, streamlining systems and complete their team with people whose strengths fill any gaps in their own skills.

Many ADHD entrepreneurs are extraordinarily successful because they focus their energy where they excel and get the help they need, and to help them achieve their ambitious business goals, many of them hire an ADHD Entrepreneur Coach.

If you are an entrepreneur or are striving to become one, visit my new site dedicated to entrepreneurs with Entrepreneurial ADD at http://www.focusactionsuccess.com.

17 Comments
  1. I have greatly enjoyed reading through your site. You have a lot of really good information here.

    I do take issue with your statement that big picture out of the box thinking, creativity, high energy, ability to think on feet and make quick decisions are traits of ADHD. As far as I am concerned ADHD has no positive benefits. The science agrees with me. There is NO evidence that ADHD gives people who have it any positive benefits. It is an urban myth, completely unbacked by legitimate research.

    ADHD is a mental illness. It has the potential to seriously impact the lives of those who suffer from it. Everyone has positive traits. There is nothing to support the statement that the traits you describe occur at any higher rate in people with ADHD than those with out it. I find it somewhat insulting that people attribute my positive traits to my illness instead of to me. If these traits were truly part of the illness why do they not disappear with treatment like the actual symptoms do?

    Additionaly the ability to make quick decisions is not impulsivity. Impulsivity is the making of decisions with out thought to the consequences. Good business people always weigh out the consequences of their decisions. Some can do it quickly but that does not make them impulsive in any way shape or form.

    Best regards

  2. Hi Train Wreck,

    I completely empathize with you. You’ve obviously suffered and continue to suffer a lot from ADHD. And I understand your views on ADHD being a mental illness.

    The jury is out on whether there are any positive traits to ADHD. Having worked with hundreds of ADHDers I know that some groups with learning disabilities and the inattentive type of ADHD tend to suffer more than Hyperactive and Impulsive types. What is clear is that the baggage they carry from having ADHD is heavier. As a result they take much longer to get out of the muck.

    I am not saying that ADHD does not present major challenges in people’s lives and if you ever had an opportunity to hear me speak on the subject, you’d know that my husband and I have lived some very difficult situations together because of his ADHD.

    Having been involved with ADHDers in my family and many clients, what I notice is that those who embrace their differences and work with and focus on their real strengths (strengths like everyone has, with or without ADHD), instead of their weaknesses, their ability to hyperfocus (and there is real evidence that ADHDers hyperfocus much more than most) tends to improve their acquisition of knowledge much more quickly than non-ADHDers, provided there are no learning disabilities.

    Seeing ADHD as a difference rather than a disorder, is simply to shift in thinking from victimhood to someone who can control his or her destiny. Calling yourself a victim will never allow you to have the energy required to take hold of your positive traits and thrive. You’ve heard the old adage, ‘whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right’. Thinking you can requires a shift in thinking away from victimhood or ill person.

    The problem lies in the fact that we are a society that notices mistakes more than we do strengths. ADHDers who’ve struggled more because they also have learning disabilities or who came from a dysfunctional family or who didn’t have the support they needed, tend to spend a lot of time on their weaknesses, trying to correct them and to make up for their shortfall; as a result, they never have time or energy to discover and develop their strengths.

    I’ve had the opportunity of seeing how hyperfocus can really help an ADHDer hone in on what needs to be done while the rest of us non-ADHDers are flailing away trying to figure out how to deal with people. I was at one of my client’s businesses for a coaching session when disaster striked and everyone in the office was panicking. My client became extremely calm and was able to diffuse the situation in less than a minute.

    In a serious car accident, my then, very disorganize and out of control husband with ADHD, became extremely calm and took immediate action to reduce the impact of the situation, while bystanders were still in a panic.

    What you focus on grows… if you created more opportunities for discovering and working with your strengths (and you definitely have them), you’d find that, while ADHD will continue to be an obstacle at times, you can leverage some of the traits (such as hyperfocus) to work more on your strengths.

    I encourage you to begin spending more time discovering and developing your strengths, choose a career that allows you to leverage them more, surround yourself with people who cherish you and encourage you.

    I wish you much success in your life.

    Best regards,

    Linda

  3. As an adult with ADHD I’m bothered to see Trainwreck’s comment. The personal, professional, and creative successes I’ve experienced in my life all stem from the moments when I knew I wasn’t like everyone else but charged ahead and did it my way. I strongly believe I AM a more creative thinker than most of my peers, I DO think out of the box, and I AM a more successful business woman than my peers because I do have a tolerance for risk that my non-ADHD peers don’t. Years ago, long before my diagnosis, I learned to stop squelching and hiding my differences. I decided that my grades and job performance were and are more important than fitting in with others. I realizeded that the passion and love I had for friends and loved ones is gift, not an embarrasment. I learned that my “big ideas” weren’t crazy or silly, but that those around me don’t have my ability to see myriad possibilities in all situations.

    If you choose to be insulted when someone attributes a positive trait you exibit to ADD/ADHD, that’s your perogative. My brain works differently from others’ because I have ADHD; science agrees with me on that. What I do with my differences are what I’m personally proud of.

    P.S. My ADHD is not a mental illness.

  4. Well said. I am always impressed with, not only the creativity, but the resilience and intuitiveness of my ADHD clients.

    Risk tolerance, creativity, visionary thinking, passion, and their own use of their innate strengths is well documented as traits of what has made many ADHD entrepreneurs successful, entrepreneurs and creative geniuses like Richard Branson (Virgin), David Neeleman (Jet Blue Air), Paul Orfalea (Kinkos), Danny Deutch (Big Ideas), and the list goes on.

    Thanks for your comments, they confirm what I see with my clients.

    To your Success!

    Linda

  5. Hey man, was just into the web to find few data and encountered your blog. I am impressed by the content that you have on this blog. It manifests how good you know this subject. Bookmarked this blog, will get back for more. You, my friend, ROll!!!

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  6. I always wanted to become a very successful entrepreneur so i studied to become one.*-:

  7. the best way to become a millionaire is to become an entrepreneur:`’

  8. being an entrepreneur can give you a good deal of money, -.:

  9. being an entrepreneur is one of the ways you can easily achieve financial freedom”~:

  10. I have ADHD. I think trainwreck is wrong. We are all different in how we’ve been made over thousands of generations and I think its not crazy to say that some segments of society carry some traits that mesh really well with entrepreneurship but also many other roles.

    The statement that ADHD has no positive benefits is completely wrong. ADHD has an effect on a human. Whether it is to make him eat more apples, tap his foot or grow a third leg, no attributes are negative, they are just attributes. It only becomes positive OR negative when the person is in an environment. ADHD gives a person attributes and those attributes sometimes, as we see with entrepreneurs, really help them succeed at things. You can’t deny that there is hyperactivity or impulsivity or whatever other side effects within people with ADHD – thats why we give IT a name – and its foolish to say that those side effects cannot ever possibly be beneficial.

    I think you should be a little more honest with whats good and bad about your ADHD and find ways to outsource what your bad at and do what your good at. Don’t hide behind political correctness and pretend that ADHDers should sit and cry in the corner about how awful they are with their illness that has no benefits – thats wrong on many levels.

  11. As a student with ADHD I tend to disagree with people who claim that ADHD is a “mental illness”. Since I did face many difficulties with ADHD as a child, I have developed high determination, which was the most important factor that lead to my success. In addition to that I am very creative. Throughout my childhood I did consider it to be a mental illness, I was a poor student and failed many classes. Once I managed to cope with it things have dramatically changed. I have graduated from university with a 4.0 GPA and now a mathematics Ph.D student in my third year and hopefully I’ll be graduating next year. I have become from a so-called failure in school to a very gifted student once I knew what interests me and I hyper-focused on it. Sorry if anyone considered that I’m bragging about myself but it irritates me to consider ADHD as a tragedy when I attribute a large part of my success to ADHD.

  12. ADHD mother with an ADHD son of 20. Greatly encouraged by my fellows with similar gifts and relate to what is shared here. Creative, big picture…. I often think of myself as the gray crayon in the room and find myself wondering why no one else sees the big picture. On the other hand I may not make it to my appointment on time and that is a big no no in a fast past society. Yes, the ADHD has a double edge.

  13. Thanks for the post. It was a very good read.

  14. Everyone has some strengths regardless of an ADHD diagnosis. It is so factually (all scientific studies have proven this)wrong to attribute people’s strengths to their adhd. ADHD is no gift however some people may be successful in spite of their adhd…due to other psychological abilities…not because of their adhd.. So tired of ADHD advocates trying to spin this very disabling disorder for their commercial gain to those who do not want to acknowledge the reality of this disorder on every facet of life. It really confuses people on the seriousness of this disorder and trivializes it to the general public…unfortunately the books and coaches that focus on the “gifts” of adhd tend to sell more because it is comforting to hear you are gifted vs the more accurate assessment…very challenged.

    By the way…lost my beautiful wife and three jobs that paid over $200k due to my adhd. My relationships are frayed all over the place due to this monster…so misunderstood.

    • Hi! So sorry you’ve struggled with your ADHD. If you read my post, I am NOT saying your ADHD gives you strengths. What I am saying is that adults with ADHD who work to improve their lives, recognize that they are very weak in their weaknesses and can be very strong in their areas of strengths because they tend to hyperfocus in areas where they show great strengths.

      One of the keys to managing your ADHD is to find your unique strengths and do more of the things you are strong at and less of what you’re weak at. There are very few jobs that allow you to pick and choose your tasks at will, except for entrepreneurship. That is not to say that everyone is made for entrepreneurial pursuits. Some ADHDers have struggled so much that they have lost all self-esteem.

      I hear that things have been difficult for you. Believe me, I’m the member of an ADHD family myself so I would NEVER say that it is a walk in the park. For the first fifteen or so years, my husband and I had serious challenges because of his ADHD but we finally invested to get him the help he needed. I say investment because the Returns have been huge. It didn’t take a few weeks for life to be perfect, and after 29 + years of marriage, we sometimes struggle but we are much better equipped to handle what comes to us.

      I strongly encourage to invest in ADHD coaching; it made a world of difference for Duane and is what inspired me to become a coach.

      I wish you much success!

  15. I have been struggling with ADHD for many years and I agree with what you say. Though, ADHD has disabled me in many areas of life but it has also uncovered a different side of me. I have realized that instead of trying to be normal, I’d better go my way and do what I am good at. ADHD may seem like a loosing battle but reading blogs like yours really lifts my heart. Thanks for this lovely post.

    • Hi Yunesh,

      ADHD is not a walk in the park, especially when you are trying to walk in other people’s shoes, doing things the way others do. I agree with you that pursuing your strengths is the best way to go but I would add that you also have to create systems to manage those things you can’t hide from, like paying taxes, keeping your commitments, and managing maintenance activity like feeding yourself or staying organized just enough that you don’t chase your tail all the time. Thanks for sharing.

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