When you have been the ‘odd’ one in classroom and then grown up to enter employment and told you are just not a good fit for the company because of values or work ethic, what does a Neurodiverse person do?
It is not surprising that many end up starting their own business; quite a percentage excel at it for several reasons, in particular, because they do not ignore their strengths, which were overlooked by others who focused primarily on their difficulties.
The Neurodiverse are free to leverage those strengths to their advantage.
The constrained system of employment
The constrained system of employment hinders an employer’s freedom to look beyond the blinkers of the corporate structure; one should explore different types of intelligence, out-of-the-box thinking and skill sets. One should also bear in mind the tenacious work ethic that gives a hunger to excel despite the challenges they may face because of one’s neurodiversity.
When we review research conducted about innovation and entrepreneurship, we discover the 21st century wouldn’t entirely possible if it wasn’t for the Neurodiverse. The subject of innovation is explored in the book Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention, by Sir Simon Philip Baron-Cohen, which examines how autistic people are intelligent, can spot patterns and be creative thinkers who develop new solutions. Albert Einstein or Elon Musk are typical examples of the type of Neurodiversity discussed in the book.
In another study generated by BBC2 For Mind of Millionaire, not 5 or 10%, but in fact 40% of those studied, showed signs of dyslexia. That is 40% who were in employment, possibly not valued and possibly seen as not being the right fit. This is both a risk of not using the talent they have in their ranks as well as a potential loss of 40% of highly valued employees.
The challenges a Neurodiverse entrepreneur faces
The situation that a Neurodiverse entrepreneur faces is balancing the strengths they have in some areas with the struggle they have in others. A support system is needed; lack of resources may prevent that entrepreneur from hiring or outsourcing.
Like other minority groups, there needs to be a system of support. Resources should be made available to meet their needs and these needs may differ from one situation to another. The support tools provided can vary from technology to accountancy. Another support tool could be a mentor program which would provide ‘one to one’ guidance. Every entrepreneur needs counsel.
In a study compiled to identify what made several individual Neurodiverse entrepreneurs, such as Charles Schwab or Richard Branson, successful, it came down to two major factors: The first was that they focused on their strengths and the second that they received support in the areas in which they faced challenges.
Neurodiverse individuals can achieve high levels of success as entrepreneurs, because they are free to explore and to develop their vision without their challenges being scrutinized. As we have seen, they can reach higher levels when support is provided and accommodation made.
The more we understand the needs of the Neurodiverse, the more we can value their unique perspective and innovative problem solving skills.
If you want to read more about neurodiversity then take a moment and read: Neurodiverse: Do you know who you work with?