Research Confirms Dyslexics Make Excellent Entrepreneurs

Dyslexia, which is often called a hidden disability, is coming into the mainstream in terms of understanding what makes people with dyslexia such amazing entrepreneurs. It has been known for some time that dyslexic business owners were more likely to succeed, but new research is beginning to show us exactly why this is the case.

In 2001 and 2007, Professor Julie Logan conducted studies into how many entrepreneurs have dyslexia. She also determined during these studies which characteristics dyslexic entrepreneurs display that are stronger than non-dyslexic entrepreneurs. The study in 2001 took place in the UK, where 20 percent of successful entrepreneurs identified themselves as dyslexic. In 2007, Professor Logan extended her research to the United States where it was determined that more than one third of successful entrepreneurs claimed to be dyslexic. The numbers are staggering, but they reveal something vitally important: Dyslexia is more than reading difficulties and struggle. It has positive aspects as well. In fact, it might be argued that dyslexia offers these entrepreneurs exactly what they need to succeed. Far from being a hindrance, it is the key to their success. Perhaps it sounds cliché, but the studies conducted seem to prove this is the case.

Dyslexic entrepreneurs are more likely to become self-made millionaires when compared to their non-dyslexic counterparts. They are also more likely to own multiple businesses as opposed to focusing all of their efforts on a single source. It is their ability to see the big picture, without getting bogged down in the details, that allows the dyslexic entrepreneur to succeed where others might fail. These business owners have the drive and determination to keep going when others would give up. During childhood, those with dyslexia were forced to come up with creative solutions to problems. They often had to work harder than their non-dyslexic peers to achieve academically, and grew use to failure. It is because of these struggles that they are able to see problems in a business and overcome them. The failure of standardized tests and other academic adventures, has given them the determination required to create and manage a successful business.

Dyslexia may hinder reading, but it strengthens other necessary skills. Dyslexic children learn to read people, and are good at choosing the best person to help them. In a business setting, they are able to pick the best person for a job, and then delegate responsibilities based on skill set. Non-dyslexic business owners often stick to the old cliché, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” They quickly become overwhelmed and are unable to maintain the standards they began with. The dyslexic business person has overcome this need for control, and it shows in both business and employee relations where the turn over rate is lower than businesses run by those without dyslexia.

Another important factor in their success is the ability to communicate effectively. Through years of trying to understand information in school, and other heavy reader-friendly areas of life, they have learned to look for the important facts first. The ability to know what is important information and what isn’t gives them the ability to get straight to the point. They are able to condense complex ideas and thoughts into simplified, easy to understand ideas and concepts. In the business world, this helps them better communicate with employees, business partners and investors. They leave no room for questions about what they expect, their vision for their company or the goals they have set. Communication is a vital component of business practices, and the dyslexic business owner has been found to communicate more effectively than their counterparts.

A business sinks or swims not because of the money that is put into it, but the ideas behind it. The study by Professor Logan revealed that those who have dyslexia are more creative than those who don’t have dyslexia. They have perfected the skill of creative thinking in order to cope with their own personal struggles, and this skill transfers easily into the business arena. Another study by Dr. Sally Shaywitz, a Professor at Yale University, confirms this finding. It doesn’t matter how much money you put into a business if you are unable to creatively problem-solve, come up with new business ideas, such as products and services or give an effective presentation to increase sales. The dyslexic entrepreneur is creative by instinct in many different ways. They don’t have to think for hours to come up with the best solution to a problem, the next great product idea, or the right words to say to customers and investors. It has become a part of who they are, and it serves them well when it comes to managing their businesses.

Dyslexia is too often seen as a burden to bear. Society as a whole is not good at finding the positives in the struggle, and they assume that any learning disability or difference can only be negative. Famous business owners Charles Schawb of Charles Schawb brokerage; Paul Orfalea, who created Kinkos and John Chambers, CEO of Cisco are living proof that this is not the case. There are many more who could be listed here as successful entrepreneurs who also have dyslexia, and it is almost certain that they will tell you that having dyslexia is the reason they were able to create such business empires when non-dyslexic run businesses failed.

Dr. Shaywitz continues studying dyslexia. The scope of her research has expanded beyond the entrepreneur, but continues to show that those with dyslexia have powerful and unique abilities enabling them to contribute meaningfully to society. If 35 percent of all successful entrepreneurs never began their businesses, we would have missed out on a good number of new technologies and ideas. Without them, the conveniences and services we enjoy today would not have been possible.

11 thoughts on “Research Confirms Dyslexics Make Excellent Entrepreneurs

  1. I love this article! I have a daughter with dyslexia and she struggles in school, but finds great success elsewhere. I wish that you had listed some dyslexic women who have been successful entrepreneurs as well.

  2. Wonderful article! My dyslexic daughter has tenacity, spunk and could sell ice to Eskimos ! Yes reading and writing are challenging but it can be overcome with great teachers… We aren’t all designed to be the same or learn the same. Find your strengths and use them!

  3. I am dyslexic and I am 35 years old. I am now a teacher, a writer and a photograph. Dyslexia is finally, at the end, a gift. I am also very good at ”reading” people. I feel them, I analyse them too. I manage my career very well. As a teacher, my biggest challenge is to put my students’ marks in the computerized system. I need help there. I might enter 48 instead 84…sorry (!!). So, I have a colleague that verifies my report card before printing and giving them to the parents. I also confuse words in French and in English in my writing. Like: language and langage (French is my mother tongue) and other similar words…

  4. Fantasitc artical!

    I have had dyslexia since i could remeber and have strugled throughout school to the point where i left at age 13.

    I worked part time for a construction company for years but always knew i had more about me, so i went back to night school college and then to university at age 22. Four years later i left with a 1st class masters degree in Civil Engineering and am currently involved in the design of the worlds longest suspention bridge.

    I also have two small companys that intend to expand and make my full time venture.

    My perants knew i strugled and said to me “do as you please, do what makes you happy, cheat and fake your way to the top”

    The last part of that satment use to bother me but its true, if you are hamless to others and find creative ways to get where you want whats the problem.

  5. Great article! Like the point that dyslexia is a hidden disability and somewhat incorrectly viewed as a burden to bear. I just finished reading the Dyslexic Advantage which is a also a great book with a similar message as this article. Dyslexia certainly introduces challenges but they can be largely offset by the significant advantages of a dyslexic’s way of thinking.
    My 10-year-old son was recently diagnosed with dyslexia which caused me to come to realize that I have dealt with a more mild form of it myself. As an adult in my early fifties looking back, I was able to greatly minimize difficulties with reading and writing by my late thirties. So dyslexic challenges can be greatly minimized, if not eliminated. I am a vice president and principal in a 2,000 person civil engineering consulting firm. I can clearly see how certain strengths from a dyslexic mind gave me advantages for success. Dyslexics need to know about these advantages and how they can specifically put them to good use.

  6. The genes that result in Dyslexia likely were in the gene pool before we developed writing. If so, how would such individuals function if they never had to assess symbols. Do they enjoy some advantage in life in not having to cope with reading symbols. Perhaps the brain regions that most people use for working with symbols is devoted to some other purpose in Dyslexics. Einstein was Dyslexic. Perhaps Dyslexics are optimized for math. Maybe we should be pushing sufferers in that direction.

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