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Why Are So Many Entrepreneurs Neurodivergent?

Why Are So Many Entrepreneurs Neurodivergent?


The idea that entrepreneurs are neurodivergent is fascinating and controversial. There's a vocal minority of people who believe that a higher percentage of entrepreneurs may be neurodivergent. And there are some studies to back this up: in one survey of small businesses in the UK, 8% of founders reported having ADHD, compared with 2% in the general population. Other research suggests that entrepreneurs are more likely to have dyslexia than non-entrepreneurs. However, I think it's important not to overgeneralize based on these studies - they were done using different methodologies with very small sample sizes (around 200 people each). There's also no clear consensus among researchers about whether these traits make someone better suited for entrepreneurship or not. After all, there are downsides to being creative or having an active imagination (like having trouble with details).

Neurodiverse people are more likely to become entrepreneurs and do better at it because of their brain differences.

If you're an entrepreneur, you may felt the sting of being told that your success is a fluke. Self-made millionaires are considered outliers—characters who defy the laws of probability—and for most people in business, this is true. But for individuals with certain neurodivergent conditions, becoming a successful entrepreneur may be more common than we think.

In fact, research suggests that ND individuals are better equipped for entrepreneurship than others because their brains work differently from those without these traits: we often have vivid imaginations, good pattern recognition skills, useful personality traits such as dogged determination and hyperfocus; and sometimes even higher IQs. Because of this unique makeup, we can excel at tasks like creative problem solving or strategic thinking that might seem more difficult for those without the same talents and abilities.

A vocal minority and some studies suggest that a higher percentage of entrepreneurs may be on the  neurodivergent spectrum.

In his book “The Rise of the Creative Class", Richard Florida suggests that cities with relatively large numbers of artists and other creative types (such as San Francisco) are more likely to attract well-educated people - because talented workers want to live in places where they can access the resources they need for their work. This may give rise to a ‘creative city’ effect: when talented workers move into an area like Silicon Valley for example, their presence attracts even more talent from around the world - leading over time towards a self-reinforcing cycle of innovation.

There's a strong element of self-selection - people who have a high tolerance for risk may choose entrepreneurship over a conventional career. Self-employment allows people to sculpt their working lives to suit their needs.

That's not to say that entrepreneurship is a perfect fit for everyone. There's no doubt that it carries with it the risk of failure, which can have a devastating impact on some people. But for those who have a high tolerance for risk, there are few better options than self-employment. Entrepreneurs get to create their own working lives as they see fit - and that includes carving out time for self-care and pursuing passions outside of work if needed.

Neurodivergent people are more likely to become entrepreneurs because it allows us more flexibility in terms of how their day-to-day life looks and feels (e.g., being able to work from home). We may have higher levels of resilience than those without these traits. In other words, might we be better equipped at dealing with setbacks when they happen, and who knows, maybe you'll even enjoy your first failure?!

The bottom line here is clear - neurodiversity isn't something we should be ashamed or afraid of; instead, we should celebrate its presence among us by supporting one another through our individual journeys, even into entrepreneurship!

The workplace is gradually becoming more tolerant of differences in personality and behavioural style, so it's possible that entrepreneurial types will want to work for companies instead of striking out on their own.

It’s worth noting that the workplace is becoming more tolerant of differences in personality and behavioural style, so it's possible that entrepreneurial types may want to work for companies instead of striking out on our own. Some companies are hiring neurodivergent people because they have useful skills and traits, like attention to detail, creative problem-solving abilities and a willingness to take risks. All of this means that the gap between what society expects from entrepreneurs versus what it expects from employees could close further in the coming years.


We're at a point in history where neurodivergent individuals are becoming more accepted in the workplace, and that's good. The next step is for us to figure out how to offer greater support when it comes to entrepreneurship. We need more studies on how neurodivergent people can be supported so that we can become successful entrepreneurs and help contribute to the economy in new ways.

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