I’ve worked with ADHD small business owners in a broad range of industries and business types from solo entrepreneurs to small businesses with multiple employees. And I’ve also run my own coaching practice for over 10 years. So, I get what it takes to run a business.
In addition to my own successful business, I’ve also been fortunate to witness my clients thrive in their’s. So, I know firsthand that this is possible for adults with ADHD. Though, I also know, if you are struggling in your business now, you may question whether this is possible for you. I get it.
As you read the suggestions below notice where you are already doing well. Of course, you should keep on doing this! Also, pay attention to what you may be missing in your business that could be contributing to your struggles. Then think about how you can close this gap.
Yes, I know you may have images of famous ADHD entrepreneurs, such as Richard Branson, when you think of what it takes to be successful. Believe me, you don’t need to mirror the super famous to thrive in your business.
You can be successful in your own right in your business if you:
- understand and implement the key components of running your business.
- learn about and leverage your strengths.
- delegate as much as possible so you can work in areas where you are strongest.
- acknowledge your challenges.
- build processes, systems and a support network to address your areas of weakness.
If you do the above, you can avoid floundering and thinking at the end of each day, “Oh, look, there went the fly…” Instead, you can be intentional and, yes, successful.
Ready to learn how?
1. Know what you need to run your business
What are your goals for your business right now? Maybe you want to reach a certain level of income or to have a particular number of clients. How are you going to accomplish this? That is, what exactly do you need to do to reach that level of income or enroll that number of clients?
I know planning is not your strong suit.
And so, unless necessary, you may resist the idea of creating a business plan. After all, it’s much more fun to do whatever catches your interest in the moment. No doubt. But, without a plan to take the right actions, you’re pretty much leaving it up to chance as to whether you’ll reach your goals or not. I’m sure that’s not what you want.
Though I have my own business plan, it’s not my area of expertise. Fortunately, there are plenty of great resources. When working with clients I help them access the resources that are best suited to their unique needs. And then help them follow through in creating their plan.
The key point is that you need to be mindful and intentional if you want to be successful in your business. And, whether you are a small business with multiple employees or a solo professional, having a business plan is critical to doing this.
2. Decide where you are going to spend your time and energy
In the process of creating your business plan, you’ll gain clarity about what is necessary to successfully run your business. Then you will need to make decisions about how to best implement the various components. This will entail deciding what tasks:
- only you can do.
- you will need to learn how to do.
- you will delegate because it is not in your skill set.
- you will delegate because your time is best spent elsewhere.
Like the business owners I’ve worked with, I’ve bet you are brilliant at your craft. Yet, if you want to have a thriving business, it is not enough to be a great attorney, psychotherapist, business consultant, architect, etc. I know you get that.
You also need to expertly answer the following questions:
- What systems and processes am I going to use so I can really show up and best deliver on my promise to my clients?
- How am I going to execute on my marketing plan so I can attract my target audience and enroll my ideal clients?
- What are the systems and processes I’m going to use to take care of the finances, including accounting, invoicing and bill paying?
- How am I going accomplish the other tasks that need to get done to run my business?
These are not easy decisions to make and will change over time. For example, you may decide to hire someone to create and maintain your website. But you may do the invoicing yourself initially. And then hire someone to take care of the finances when you have more cash flow.
What you decide to do on your own and what you delegate will depend on your skill set, preferences, bandwidth and, of course, cash flow.
3. Rely on your strengths first
In part your skill set is, of course, dependent on your strengths. And, as Drs Hallowell and Ratey, authors of Driven to Distraction and Delivered from Distraction point out:
The best way to change a life of frustration into a life of mastery is by developing talents and strengths not just shoring up weaknesses.
This is also true when it comes to building a successful business. You want to spend as much time as possible utilizing your strengths, rather than operating in areas where you are relatively weaker. Make sense, right?
After all, isn’t that what makes entrepreneurs successful? They use their talents and strengths in developing and offering a good or service people want. Some of the strengths you want to leverage are your ADHD traits, such as:
- out-of-the-box thinking will.
- ability to hyperfocus
- tolerance for risk
- being decisive
We also know that strengths aren’t fixed, and you can work on making them stronger or allow them to atrophy. It’s really up to you. Just think about how you have become better at your craft over the years. And, if you’re interested, you can also learn about and build other strengths
4. Create your team
Relying on your strengths is important. But, as you well know, building a successful business also means regular attention to essential areas that might be challenging for you. And, if you ignore these areas because of your uncertainty, your business suffers. Maybe you’ve had this experience in your own business.
You have two options. You can choose to upgrade your skills in those areas where you are relatively weak. Alternatively, you may opt to outsource all or part of these tasks. Whichever option you pursue you will need support.
When you need to get out of your own head, having thought partners on your team can be helpful. You may decide a regular coffee date with a trusted friend is all you need. Alternatively, you may decide you need something more formal, such as a mastermind group.
Consider reaching out to a mentor or coach, if you need more individualized 1-1 support. You may need someone with expertise in some aspect of your business. Alternatively, you may just need someone to help you execute on what you already know.
Okay, I know administrative support is obvious for adults with ADHD. But, if you can’t afford or don’t need full-time help, consider using the services of a virtual assistant on a as needed basis.
Obviously, there are many other sources of support, including technical, accounting, marketing etc. And I know you already have some of these. Who do you need to add to your team to get the support you need?
5. Don’t let your ADHD superpowers thwart your business success
Of course, you have many strengths that can help you thrive in your business, including your ADHD superpowers. But these same traits can become your Achilles’ heel, if you don’t manage them well.
For example, being decisive is key to moving a business forward. But you may not be making the best decisions if they are the result of your ADHD impulsiveness. You may do this when you are overwhelmed and not sure what to do. So, you just act.
Being willing to take risks is another necessary ingredient in being a successful entrepreneur. But, if you tend to be impulsive and don’t consider the consequences, you may take too many risks. And put the success of your business in peril.
Likewise, having lots of energy can be helpful in running a business. But there is definitely a tipping point. That point may come when your energy annoys people who are key to your success. That point may also come when your energy is frenetic, rather than productive. Sound familiar?
Focusing intently on one task and tuning out all other tasks and distractions — hyperfocusing — can also be helpful. But, of course, it can be problematic when doing so leads you to ignore your other business or personal commitments.
Last, multitasking is often seen as a superpower. But, because of the cost of switching frequently between task, multitasking is not productive. As Dr. Hallowell notes, “That’s the myth of multitasking. It’s like playing tennis with two balls: Your game is not as good as it would be with one ball.”
Yes, you want to use your ADHD superpowers. But just make sure they don’t get in your way.
ADHD Entreprenuers Can Thrive in Business
What are you doing that is helping your business thrive right now? Celebrate that. Acknowledging what is already going well will help you persist through the rough spots.
Naturally, you’ll also want to address the areas where you are having challenges. How can you build on your success and close the gap in these weaker areas?