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Why Being A Neurodivergent Entrepreneur Is Powerful

Written by: Mandy Nicholson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Mandy Nicholson

More and more people are being diagnosed with neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD and Autism later in life. This is particularly true for women, and it is making sense of why they have felt like they didn’t fit in for most of their lives.

Woman in white long sleeve holding a paint brush

Society has not yet caught up with the needs of neurodivergent people, therefore many are becoming entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, when you have felt like the weirdo in the room most of your life and have been told there is something wrong with you, your self-confidence can be low.


As a successful businesswoman, many people look at me and think I have it nailed. But I am going to let you in on a secret, I have two children who are neurodivergent, and I know I have undiagnosed Autism.

Having declared that fact out loud in public, let’s look at why being an entrepreneur can feel like the best fit.


Why starting your own business can be the solution


ADHD requires flexibility, and nothing offers better flexibility than building your business on your own terms.

People with ADHD will experience periods of hyper-focus where they achieve a lot but also periods of time where they need to isolate from the world. None of this can be planned for so it may be difficult for an employer to understand. In your own business, you can create contingency plans, set boundaries, and communicate your needs much easier. Using the hyper-focused periods to compensate for the periods of retreat.


There is also a need for excitement in people with ADHD so constantly thinking creatively about your own business and how you grow it offers variety and challenges. I have found that having a network of people you trust and who understand you will be a make or break for your business. Why? Because people with ADHD can be hard to work with due to the ups and downs. It is important to recognise this. The high periods can result in poor judgement and choices. Choose your people wisely.


Autism, in contrast, can be less obvious to the outside world. People with autism can be considered shy, awkward, or anti-social. They may have learned to function in the world unnoticed. However, they may struggle to form meaningful relationships.


People with autism have significant, unique, and often very specialist skills. Their ability to problem solve using logic can be exceptional. They may struggle with direct contact with customers and suppliers but will learn to adapt. Self-employment can lead to greater confidence and self-esteem.


There are many famous people with Autism who have found success despite their differences.


Here are some tips for the neurodivergent entrepreneur

  • Find Your People – feeling like the odd one out at a networking event or in a group does not lead to success. It can trigger self-doubt and mental health issues. Find networking and business-building opportunities where you are accepted. There are many if you search on the social media sites. Neuro Boost is a relatively new but expanding network focused on helping and supporting neurodivergent entrepreneurs.

  • Outsource What You Struggle With – it can be almost debilitating when you are neurodivergent to do some of the necessary tasks in your business. Finding people who can do these jobs for you will release you to focus on your area of genius. This will mean that you are happier and more fulfilled in your work which will keep you more on track. Be careful when you recruit because your judgement can be based on your current mood, or you may not pick up on signals.

  • Be Clear on Your Mission and Values – not feeling aligned with what you are doing can de-rail your business. The tendency to become excited by an idea and then follow it only to find out you are down the wrong path is something I have seen a lot in neurodivergent entrepreneurs. Ask ‘What is my purpose in starting this business and where do I see it going?’ Get help with your vision, mission and goal setting and it will pay dividends.

  • Identify Your Skills and Weaknesses – you will have many skills so get crystal clear on what they are and use them. Equally, identify your weaknesses and have a training plan in place as part of your business growth. Find a coach, trainer etc. who truly understands the neurodivergent mind, it will make all the difference.

  • Tap Into Funding – there are numerous grants available to help neurodivergent entrepreneurs, do some research. A key piece of funding is the Government’s Access to Work grant in the UK. This is open to you if you have a physical, neurodivergent, or mental disability, even if not formally diagnosed. The grant does not need to be paid back and you could receive up to £66,000 to pay for equipment, support, coaching etc. To check out eligibility and criteria, go to the Government website. I applied this year and received the full award amount to spend in my two businesses, it’s a game changer.

  • Apply For PIP (Adult Disability Benefit in Scotland) – PIP (personal independence payment) is not means tested. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, like access to work id designed to keep you in work PIP is designed to make daily living and mobility easier. The DWP is now accepting neurodivergent conditions as disabilities. It can be difficult to accept that you need help but don’t let your pride stop you from accepting this help, just think of the impact it can have on your business. If you build a sustainable business, you will create jobs and help the economy.

  • Accept The Good AND The Bad – you will experience success and disaster along the way. You are bigger, bolder, and more ‘too much’ than others so you will be all or nothing. There will be periods of time when all is going well, and sales are good. Then there will be other times when things are not so good. Be cautious not to let the less affluent times cause you to walk away or change course. Find a great business coach, who understands you to keep you on track.


I have worked with so many neurodivergent women in my Creative Mastermind and one-to-one that I can honestly say they are incredible at what they do. Volatile – yes. Emotional – yes. Unpredictable – yes. But overall, when they are focused and clear in their goals, they build amazing businesses.


Society does need to catch on to the power of the neurodivergent mind and welcome the difference that these entrepreneurs are making with their businesses.


How can creative genius HQ help you?


Many of the creatives I work with struggle with a lifetime of being belittled for their genius. Often told to get a proper job to pay the bills and practice their craft on the side. Many of them are also neurodivergent and didn’t know.


At CGHQ, we have a range of strategic learning levels to meet our clients exactly where they are at. All are accessible using your Access to Work funding.


From entry-level to intermediate to advanced. From self-learn online and low-cost membership to hybrid courses with group and 1:2:1 coaching to in-person coaching and retreats.



If you are unsure how to begin your journey, or have questions about funding, then contact me and let’s have a chat.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website for more info!

Mandy Nicholson Brainz Magazine
 

Mandy Nicholson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mandy Nicholson, is a Creative Genius Consultant, Artist and Author who helps creative women to launch, grow and scale their businesses and make more money. Like a huge % of creative women, Mandy ended up in a 'proper job' after she completed her BA in Art and Design, and spent decades forging a successful career in retail. It was only after a life-altering series of unfortunate events, which saw her end up at rock bottom, that the pull of creativity called her to launch her creative business in 2019. Mandy now has multiple income streams connecting her creative business, serving and educating women. Her mission: Painting the future for creative business, one woman at a time.

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