Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor, and challenges that come with running a business with ADHD. Achieving your goals with this neurodevelopmental disorder is tough! In this blog, I’ll help you understand your unique brain, unlock your potential, and make sure you know how to get from Point A to Point B with an ADHD brain.
I’m Kristen Carder, podcast host of “I Have ADHD,” and I am medicated, caffeinated, and ready to roll with you guys!
Today, we are going to talk about all things ADHD, entrepreneurship, and business. I’ve been an entrepreneur with ADHD for a long time, so I know what it’s like to be on the grind and work your tail off with an ADHD brain. Whether you’re working full-time in your business or you’re just trying to get a side gig going, I hope the tips in this blog will be helpful to you.
Before we get started, I want to tell you a little bit about my entrepreneurship journey. For 17 years, I have been on the entrepreneurship train building first a 5-figure voice lesson business, then a 6-figure tutoring business, and finally, where I am now, a 7-figure coaching and consulting business where I help entrepreneurs with ADHD achieve their goals! It’s been a wild ride, and I’m excited to say that this last business is where I’ve finally found my purpose and home.
Being an entrepreneur with ADHD has come with its challenges, but I have fully integrated my own ADHD into my business, and that is exactly what I want to help you with today. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to go through what I did in order to become your most successful self and be fully aligned with your business. Conventional business advice doesn’t often work for the ADHD entrepreneur, so I want to hand you 5 tips that have made a world of difference in my life, and I hope they will in yours too.
So, how can you make your business more ADHD friendly?
Tip #1: Don’t force your ADHD business to look neurotypical
Conventional business advice is based on human brains that don’t necessarily struggle with the types of things ADHD brains deal with — things like rejection sensitivity, organization, time-management, and impulsivity. So, the best thing I did for my own business was consider where was trying to force my business to be neurotypical.
So ask yourself, “Am I listening to business advice telling me to be consistent? Like, stick to a morning routine, workout every day, post on social media on this day and that day, etc? If you are, and it’s not working, it’s because you’re trying to force your brain to do something it can’t do. Don’t beat yourself up!
Don’t believe that conventional business strategies are the only way to become successful, because it’s simply not true. You don’t have to make your bed every morning and be super disciplined to be successful. ADHD brains work differently, so discard the notion that you have to be like everyone else. Once you do that, you’ll open yourself up to endless possibilities with strategies that work for YOU and your strengths.
So ask yourself, in what ways are you trying to hold your business to a neurotypical standard? Does it work for you? If not, I give you permission to stop doing it.
Tip #2: Make room for inconsistency
Again, conventional business advice stresses the need to be “consistent” if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. For ADHD brains, this is simply not a thing your brain can do, and that is OKAY. You don’t need to be consistent to be successful. As an ADHDer, your energy, dopamine levels, and motivation will ebb and flow. If you try to force yourself to be consistent, you’re going to burn yourself out.
So, make room for inconsistency, and instead, focus on being PERSISTENT. Persistence is the commitment to pick up right back where you left off by acknowledging that you’ve ghosted your email list for three weeks and then be willing to write them today. Persistence is the pursuit of serving your customers even after you were late getting them a proposal. Persistence is the quality that gives you the momentum to make things work with an inconsistent brain.
Tip #3: Drop Perfectionism
Research has shown that perfectionism is the most commonly endorsed thought distortion for people who have adult ADHD — meaning that pretty much ALL of us struggle with it. Perfectionism is the brain pattern of setting the bar way too high for ourselves, and when you inevitably don’t meet the standard, you beat yourself up endlessly for not getting it perfect.
It’s the quality that I see holding ADHD entrepreneurs back the most. The attitude that things need to be the most perfect version of themselves before sending them out into the world is holding us back. It stops us from even getting started.
So for tip #3, I want you to DROP perfectionism. Like REALLY drop it, and focus on B-minus work. B-minus is enough to make you successful, so don’t torture yourself trying to make it perfect.
Tip #4: Ask for Help
One comment I hear from ADHD entrepreneurs all the time is “I should be able to do this on my own.” When ADHDers think things like: “it’s a simple task, I should be able to do it”, or “I don’t know why I can’t do it on my own,” or “I shouldn’t be taking so long to accomplish this task,” remember that simple tasks are actually REALLY hard for brains with ADHD. So, don’t beat yourself up!
We have so many gifts and strengths. We are creative, inventive, and can solve super complex problems. We can do really hard things, and ADHD makes the simple things really really hard for us. So my advice is don’t beat yourself up, it’s not your fault, and ask for help. Asking for help will make your life so much easier! So, ask a friend, a co-worker, or hire an assistant. Getting help on the simple tasks will make your life so much better.
Tip #5: Make it FUN
You’ve got to remember that ADHD lowers our dopamine levels. This means that our motivation and inspiration are fleeting, which makes it really difficult for us to feel good.
So, to offset this, I want you to manufacture a sense of fun, but always ask yourself, “how can I make this more enjoyable?”
No matter what you’re doing in your business, you need to honor the fact that your dopamine levels are low, and manufacturing fun can make you feel more motivated. When things are fun, you will be much more likely to do the same task many days in a row, so do yourself a favor, and make your life interesting. Take a boring task and ask yourself, “what can I do to make this super fun for me?” and go from there.
To sum it all up, the 5 ways to make your business more ADHD friendly are:
- Don’t try to make it look like a neurotypical business,
- Make room for inconsistency,
- Drop perfectionism,
- Ask for help, and
- Have fun!