Wednesday, 13 March 2013

ADHD and Running a Business

Astoundingly, just after my 50th birthday, I was diagnosed as having ADHD. I aced those tests.I romped home. You get the picture.  I nailed it.

Anyone who does not suffer with ADHD may have sufficient focus to read the description of this charming and annoying condition here. Everyone else can skip it and skim this list which shows some of the ways it has affected me during my chaotic half a century.

  • I have spent a total of 7 years looking for my keys
  • I can't listen all the way to the end of a description of how to get the post office yet can spend 10 hours straight writing a computer program that seems to transcend my actual ability
  • I never leave anywhere once, having to return once for my glasses, once for the keys and once for the glasses having put them down while finding the keys
  • I sit for hours worrying about the next thing, but never getting on with the next thing
  • I have lost thousands of pounds by the simple act of never writing the invoice 
  • I can reduce any premises to the level of a bomb-site within minutes, even though I try really hard not to do this
  • I have lots of brilliant ideas, half of them started and 0.0005% of them completed
I could go on and on, but what's this? I lose focus.

In the post-diagnosis euphoria, I attempted to forgive myself for my lifetime of rubbishness. I then went on to experimentally congratulate myself for running a business for 6 years in spite of having many unbusinesslike traits.

I wondered if I was the only business owner ever to have suffered from ADHD. I suspected I was but I Googled it and found an extraordinary fact. Ready? If you have ADHD you are 300 times more likely to start your own business than someone who hasn't.

That statistic comes from Fortune magazine. Once I became less startled by it, I saw why it was true. 

Firstly, people like me can't work for anyone else. In my case, throughout which includes over 30 jobs, I tend to start brilliantly. Fast forward 6 months and I am either staring out the window slack-jawed with boredom or rocking in the corner stressed out at not having completed a thousand important tasks.

Secondly, starting a business is much easier for someone with ADHD. They skip all the traditional nonsense (eg making a business plan, doing market research, thinking about it) and instead go straight to the nub of the matter. They write "It's Gone Funny - friendly computer support!" in felt tip on a large piece of paper and sellotape it to the wall of their house.

One thing the Fortune research doesn't explain is how many  of these nutters are successful in creating a viable business. 

Armed with my new knowledge I went back to Google to find out how to increase my chances of doing that. One thing shone through in the body of work on this topic. I'd better find someone sensible and organised to work with.

Truth to tell, as the popularity of It's Gone Funny increases year on year, the danger of me going to pieces and  throwing in the towel becomes ever larger.

For this reason, I'm going to find not one, but two sensible and organised people to work with.

One will be my PA. Watch this blog for details of the job advert if you fancy a go at the almost impossible task of removing the chaos from my life.

The other will be my business partner. Watch out, my sensible, organised and fierce friends. You know who you are and I'm coming to get you.


  1. Typically of an ADHD sufferer, you forgot to mention the third member of your support team. The one that makes you feel better about your private life, enabling you to cope better with your business life. But hey, don't worry cos he's used to being ignored.....

  2. Not forgetting the huffy yet marvellous David Hutchings who has recently taken on the role of boyfriend and who is working hard to stop me eating out of date food.

    1. good blog Helen..... see you on Sunday for the half mathathon,banging those drums!
      PS I dont know how to reply as me, so I will be anonymous again!!!!!

  3. This is an interesting article and also very encouraging. I as well have ran a business for 10 years without any business traits or qualities. I found that running a small business can be difficult because there is more pressure and stress on the manager. Even if you have a small employee staff like I do, it can still be hard to manage all their work and time put into the company. There are many great ways to help guide your company to success and a great way to start is employee recognition. Certain programs can help find the right reward programs for your employees so they are compensated for their work and success of the company. I have found this very helpful because it let me learn more about running a business as time went on and I feel more like a business man at the same time. I think ADHD and other personality traits do not have an effect on success, you just have to work hard and find the right tools that work for you. Great article!


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