Entrepreneurs with ADHD

Entrepreneurs with ADHD

entrepreneurs with ADHD

Spock definitely did not have ADHD, but I would venture a bet Captain Kirk had a bit of it.

Entrepreneurs with ADHD can struggle when it comes to marketing

For a long time I swore my entrepreneur clients all had ADHD. They were impulsive, lost confidence quickly in marketing tactics, and were always looking for the next big thing. Luckily, I worked for several individuals with this kind of personality and I’ve always been able to take advantage of the “let’s boldly go where no man has gone before attitude” while keeping a plan on track. But it’s a struggle to get them to be patient to allow tactics to actually work. Entrepreneurs with ADHD  can be have particular strengths in some areas, but they can struggle when it comes to marketing

Lately, research seems to be backing up my empirical observations regarding entrepreneurs with ADHD. Many new entrepreneurs can’t stomach the slow pace of corporate life for even their first few years in business. The consultants at Intuitive.com reprinted a list of the best advantages entrepreneurs have with ADHD including hyper-focus, high energy, the ability to multi-task, and risk taking. A January article in Entrepreneur in  went so far as to call ADHD the entrepreneurs “superpower, ” reminding us that the founders of Kinko’s and JetBlue both have this learning “disability.”

I know I have several of the characteristics associated with ADHD and they were a total gift when I was a salesperson. I also think it adds to sensitivity and intuition but that’s not backed up by anything other than my own opinion, But when it comes to marketing strategy and tactics, those characteristics can be a total disaster.  Here’s why some characteristics are both a strength and a weakness for entrepreneurs with ADHD. 

  • Overdeveloped sense of urgency. This leads entrepreneurs to be the first out with a product, the first to uncover an innovation and gives them the energy to drive toward sales goals. But when it comes to marketing tactics, unless you’ve got 100 qualified people working for you, that too strong sense of urgency can create confusion, misdirection and frustration. I used to work for a guy who had a new direction in marketing every week. They were all brilliant ideas but I got so caught up in trying to keep up with him I ended up going nowhere.  I started asking him what he would like to delay in order to start his newest idea. When he realized he would be sacrificing things already in motion, we came up with a way to keep a list of new marketing tactics we would try in the next quarter, rather than the next week.
  • Impatience for results from marketing tactics. I’m often asked to produce results in weeks that typically take months. (I’m good, but not THAT good.)  Staying patient and having confidence in your strategy and tactics can create much stronger results. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t incorporate cool new things we find to do. We just shouldn’t sacrifice our earlier choices because we’re impatient.

Confession:  I am notorious at this. One of my proudest accomplishments is that I’ve continued to write this blog, even though the payback has been slow it’s still really cathartic and that’s a benefit in itself.

  • Lack of understanding of other people’s energy level. Most people working for entrepreneurs don’t have the type of energy they do. When I managed a team of folks at a tech consulting firm, I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t want to work from 7 in the morning until 9 at night. And it was really disrespectful to their families until I understood more about “balance”, a concept that’s still quite mysterious to me. Remember that not everyone can sync up with your energy and may tune you out if you go too fast.
  • Too much multitasking. After my concussion in 2009, I was told to learn to “unitask”.  I found some incredible benefits to this approach that at first seemed really slow and cumbersome. First of all, I got just as much done but without as much stress. My attention to detail improved tremendously. My sense of urgency was much more realistic. In marketing it’s really important to focus on one thing at a time. Who hasn’t sent out that  email marketing campaign with the outrageous typo?  Those mistakes can be greatly reduced.
Like anything, there are strengths and weaknesses to personality characteristics. Maybe you don’t have ADHD, but if you thrive in an entrepreneurial environment you’re likely to have some of those tendencies. Understanding how it might affect your marketing can make a world of difference.