The Link between Dyslexia and Entrepreneurial Success | Dyslexia UK

The Link between Dyslexia and Entrepreneurial Success

April 21, 2023 Keir Williams Comments Off

Dyslexia is a neurodivergent condition that affects an individual’s reading, writing, and spelling abilities. Historically, dyslexia was considered a disability that hindered academic and professional success. However, recent studies have found a strong correlation between dyslexia and entrepreneurship. In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, including Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson, have been diagnosed with dyslexia.

According to a study by Professor Julie Logan of Cass Business School in London, between 20-40% of entrepreneurs have dyslexia. This is significantly higher than the estimated 10% of the general population that has dyslexia. The study found that entrepreneurs with dyslexia are more likely to rely on mentors for guidance and inspiration, rather than formal education. They are also more likely to start their own business straight after leaving school, instead of following the traditional route of continuing education or seeking employment with established organizations.

So, what advantages does dyslexia bring to entrepreneurs? One key advantage is the ability to think outside the box. Dyslexic individuals often have a unique perspective on problem-solving, as their brains process information differently. This unconventional thinking can be a major asset in business, where innovation and creativity are highly valued. Dyslexic entrepreneurs have been known to develop groundbreaking ideas and solutions that other individuals may not have considered.

Another advantage of dyslexia in entrepreneurship is resilience. Dyslexic individuals often face significant challenges in their academic and professional lives, which can foster a strong sense of determination and perseverance. These qualities are invaluable for entrepreneurs, who must navigate the many obstacles and setbacks that come with starting and running a business. Dyslexic entrepreneurs have proven to be highly adaptable and able to overcome adversity, making them well-suited for the unpredictable nature of entrepreneurship.

Dyslexia can also be a driving force behind an entrepreneur’s passion and motivation. Many dyslexic individuals have struggled with traditional forms of education, leading them to pursue their own interests and passions outside of the classroom. This can translate into a deep sense of purpose and enthusiasm for their work as entrepreneurs. Dyslexic entrepreneurs are often highly motivated to succeed and to make a positive impact on their industries and communities.

There are a number of different skills and attributes that people with dyslexia tend to have that help them to become successful entrepreneurs:

  1. Oral communication skills

People with dyslexia typically have difficulty with reading or writing. To overcome these weaknesses they often develop compensatory skills, such as spoken rather than written communication skills. This means that they are more likely to rely on speaking to potential clients on the phone, thereby addressing queries and building rapport, than relying on less personal emails and letters.

2. Keep it clear and simple

People with dyslexia have learnt from experience that it is better to deliver and easier to understand a clear, simple message than a complex nuanced one. This means that they are often able to purify their messages to avoid jargon and focus upon the core idea that they want to be understood. Building a business can be a complex task but people with dyslexia are able to use their enhanced reasoning skills to see the bigger picture, simplify things to their core elements and focus on the main points. This can help them to be bold, act fast and to capitalise on an opportunity. 

3. Vision

People with dyslexia tend to have strengths in visualisation. This means that they are able to imagine and visualise complicated, abstract concepts such as business models or advertising campaigns. This visualisation capacity enables them to conceptualise difficult ideas and concepts and to discover relationships between what can appear non-related parts or aspects. By thinking through different options and scenarios entrepreneurs with dyslexia are able to consider multiple outcomes and perspectives, spot opportunities and gaps in the market. This is a particular advantage when considering a new product line or service offering.

4. Problem solving

Rather than accepting the status quo, people with dyslexia tend to see the world differently. They are be able to spot problems and develop innovative solutions. From Ikea to Virgin, frequently entrepreneurs with dyslexia have questioned the reason something is being done in a certain way, and have built their business on a better way to solve the problem.

5. Resilience

Being a successful entrepreneur requires the ability to bounce back from difficulties, problems and failures. It is not a smooth, easy ride to success. The ability to remain positive, overcome difficulties or see failures as a learning opportunity is known as resilience. People with dyslexia have grown up finding certain task hard and frequently experience failure. For those who have been through, and overcome this, they are stronger for it and are able to use these experiences and skills to give them confidence, grit and resilience when they encounter challenges and setbacks in their later life.

6. People management

People with dyslexia tend to be good at delegating tasks or authority. It is thought that this is because they are used to delegating tasks where they have a weakness to people who are reliable or have a skills in that particular area. People with dyslexia are not only aware of their difficulties, but they are perhaps more used to, and comfortable with acknowledging and admitting to these. This helps them to feel comfortable with finding people with complementary skills, building a team and delegating tasks to them. Recognising other’s strengths, trusting them to complete the task rather than micromanaging them is the difference between being a manager and a leader.

7. Intuition

Many successful dyslexic entrepreneurs find that they are good at talking to potential clients, and are able to use compensatory skills such as intuition to pick up on subtle ques that give them an advantage over non-dyslexics. In addition, many people with dyslexia have a high level of emotional intelligence that allows them to build trusting relationships quickly, picking up on underlying signals and getting people on their side.

8. Creativity

People with dyslexia tend to be able to see things differently and come up with non-standard, creative solutions. This is why so many inventors and scientists also have dyslexia (see earlier blog post on famous dyslexics). By being naturally creative thinkers, people with dyslexia tend to approach old problems in new, unconventional ways. This means that they can disrupt long standing industries, taking market share from long standing players by giving customers a better alternative (see Ikea and Virgin for examples of this).

9. Leadership

Due to some of the reasons discussed above dyslexic entrepreneurs tend to be people who are seem as having the ability to lead and motivate others. They are often seen by their employees as inspirational people who seek out the strengths in their team and empower their employees. This leads to workers to share in the entrepreneur’s passion, wanting to work hard and grow the business brand.  

Below are some links to interesting articles on this topic:

Also read our post on famous people with dyslexia:

To speak to a dyslexia assessor, contact us:

Recommended Books for Teenagers & Students with Dyslexia and Books about Dyslexia for Teachers and Tutors