Hey there, lovely readers! Today, I want to open up and tell you a bit of my journey with ADHD and give you some tips and insights on how you can run a business with ADHD.
If you're an ADHDer, you're in good company. Did you know that adults with ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own business? That's according to The Davinci Method by Garrent LoPorto.
In January, I got diagnosed with ADHD after a lot of research on ADHD symptoms, ADHD traits and seeing a psychologist and ADHD Coach. I finally went through the NHS (National Health Service in the UK) and was diagnosed after an eight-month wait.
Following getting an ADHD diagnosis, I’ve been reflecting on how on earth I’ve managed to build and run a business with ADHD. I have been running my business for 5 years and have managed to replace my previous income as a Marketing Manager and enable my husband to cut back his hours at work.
But running a business with ADHD has its ups and downs, literally! So let's dive into this rollercoaster world of entrepreneurship and explore how you can thrive in your business despite the challenges ADHD might throw your way.
Can Someone with ADHD Run a Business?
The short answer is, yes absolutely! Having ADHD actually means you will have amazing ideas and inspiration while running your business. It definitely doesn't mean you're incapable of being a successful business owner. There are so many hats for business owners to wear; as you will know, one of the ADHD traits is the need for variety and to avoid boredom! Also, people with ADHD have good problem-solving skills and often have high energy especially if they are hyperactive or combine type of ADHD. These ADHD traits can be fantastic for generating new ideas and pushing outside-the-box thinking when it comes to what your business can achieve.
However, it's also important to acknowledge that ADHD can present some challenges when it comes to organisation, focus, and time management. Some of the things we can really struggle with as ADHD business owners are:
Let’s break a few of these ADHD symptoms down:
ADHD Paralysis - Have you ever felt frozen in one place? You’ve got all the things to do but can’t process which one should be done first. So you do nothing, but your head is screaming at you to do something! This is exactly what ADHD paralysis feels like. You may have been experiencing this and being so hard on yourself then someone comes along and says you’ve been lazy! If only they knew the screaming in your head and the whirlwind of emotions and pain going on in your brain.
ADHD Overwhelm - This can lead to ADHD paralysis but it isn’t necessarily the same. ADHD overwhelm is when you get a sensory overload from tasks on your to-do list, people that you are talking to, it might be people at a meeting all talking at once. ADHD overwhelm also could be that your day was too long the day before or you had to show up too much on Zoom or on camera, then you have extremely low energy levels the day after and need time to rest (preferably in a dark room, speaking to no one!) ADHD overwhelm can be really debilitating if it isn’t accounted for or prepared for with flexibility in your business.
Wow, it’s even emotional writing about this! So let’s touch on…
Emotional Dysregulation - This is not just mood swings! Emotional Dysregulation is when you have an emotional response to something that is more extreme than how other people show or process their emotions. Your emotions are valid even though they look bigger than others. You might have been told not to take things so emotionally when this happens. I know I have! The emotions here are not just sadness. They are a whole range, i.e. confusion, anger, happiness, boredom, disgust and many more. Emotional Dysregulation can affect your business if someone triggers your emotional response. It has a knock-on effect on your day as you process your emotions about a situation or what someone has said. People with ADHD can react differently to others as our brains can process things differently. This can lead to impulsive decisions and behaviour, or it could make you avoid emotions and shut down to numbness.
Discovering and understanding our challenges as ADHD business owners can help us recognise when it is happening and give ourselves grace and compassion. Plus, we are more able to communicate with others so we can navigate running a business with ADHD more successfully.
But fear not, fellow ADHDers! With some tailored strategies and support, you can overcome these hurdles and create a thriving business. Firstly, I want to tell you others understand you and support you. We have an ADHD Women Entrepreneur Support Group on Facebook that I’d love you to come and be a part of.
Tips for the Female ADHD Business Owner
1. Create Structure
It’s quite strange that we need structure because, obviously, one of the ADHD symptoms is impulsivity. However, another ADHD trait is anxiety. So creating structure gives an essential clear plan for your working day/week/month. Establishing routines such as doing the same thing at the same time every week helps to bring familiar working environments, which help us avoid ADHD overwhelm. It’s a good idea to break tasks into smaller parts and set deadlines to help you stay on track. I find half my brain is contained on my Google calendar and my project management system! - UpBase (Affiliate Link)
2. Delegate and outsource
Recognise that you can't do everything yourself. For my life, I have chosen to outsource household tasks first. I have a lady that does my ironing and I have a cleaner, plus I have an Ad Hoc P.A (Personal Assistant) now too. In my business, I have an accountant and I have partners that host some of the networking meetings in Gossip Gals. Delegating tasks can free up your time to focus on the things you're great at, like brainstorming new ideas and building relationships with clients. Outsourcing can also mean using software that automates tasks for you. I teach how to use Email Automation (I use Mailerlite, this is my Affiliate link, Let me know if you sign up and I'll give you a free walk-through) in my Gold Plus+ membership for solo women business owners to learn social media and online business strategy and tech.
3. Prioritise self-care
Running a business is demanding, and it's essential to prioritise your well-being. We need to remember to eat! And schedule time to just rest and do nothing, exercise, and even go for a massage. (Massage is my fave self-care activity!) I've just bought a muscle flow massager so I can do some massage at home, it's really good!. I know sometimes our brains wake up more in the evening and it’s so hard to switch off before sleep, but when you start to track things, you notice lack of sleep is detrimental when you need to be successful and run a business with ADHD. I recommend having an alarm to tell you to go to bed, with two reminder notifications on it! And listening to brown noise is a key thing I do to help switch my brain off at night. You can get this on Alexa or YouTube.
4. Join a support network
Running a business can be tough and even more challenging when you have ADHD. Make sure you have a support network around you.
This can include friends, family, and professional networks who understand the challenges you face and can offer support, encouragement, and advice. As I mentioned before, you can join us in the ADHD Women Entrepreneur support group on Facebook and there is also lots of signposting to other services in there too.
5. Plan Ahead
On a Sunday evening, I plan ahead and absorb all the tasks I need to complete for the week to run my business successfully. I look at what’s coming up and schedule reminders for people in my memberships (and for yourself!). I prepare for presentations and meetings. And I make sure I have food in the house for my lunches so I don’t get to 3pm and I haven’t eaten, then it’s the school run time and I end up with no food and snacking on rubbish before dinner! I often will have my left overs from the night before for lunch. I find getting Gousto meals (affiliate link - get 65% off!) really useful as it's always there every week and I can pick the 10 minute meals or 5 minute prep meals that just bunge in the oven.
I’ve designed a WEEKBOOK for myself and released it recently for my ADHD Women Entrepreneurs Support Group to buy too. It's had great feedback so I've added the the shop on the website. It’s just £7 and can be used again and again to get organised for your week. You can grab yours here.
My verdict on being able to run a business with ADHD
I love running my business but I couldn’t do it without putting the above tips into action. I hope they help you too! Running a business with ADHD can be a wonderful journey, especially with the support of other ADHDers who understand you. Before I ran my business I would flit from job to job but now I'm thriving! It can also be wild! But with the right strategies, support, and mindset, you can definitely overcome the challenges that come with ADHD and run a successful fun business.