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    Learning From Neurodivergent CEOs in Online Business

    November 1, 2021

    What We Can Learn From Neurodivergent CEOs in Online Business?

    The biggest thing that halts the progression of growth in a service based business is to stay in solopreneur mode. The map of business growth in online business is pretty straightforward actually. It starts with freelancing, moves into solo entrepreneurship, then moving into outsourcing to expert contractors, and finally hiring a team to help meet the demand for growing services. Discovering the superpowers of neurodivergent CEOs in online business doesn’t just extend to the topic of growth.

    Sounds simple right? So why then do we find ourselves in complicated situations in the outsourcing stage, sometimes never moving into the growth phase of your bottom line? That answer is not quite so simple. As I’ve worked with clients to map out their growth plan (or sometimes just in conversation about why they aren’t growing), one thing I have noticed is that entrepreneurs who identify as neurodivergent CEOs are growing their businesses more quickly and efficiently than neurotypical CEOs. 

    For more information about what these terms mean and how they are defined, please subscribe to our newsletter and stay in touch as we release more research on these topics.

    Let’s just say that hypothetically, for the sake of argument, that successful entrepreneurship is made of 3 parts: innovation, productivity, and strategy. All of which feed off of each other and combine for the highest level of results. Most entrepreneurs are creative and full of ideas and innovations, creative in the way they approach their strategy, and productive and consistent, often making something out of nothing not only for themselves, but also for their clients.  

    Individuals who identify as neurodivergent CEOs in online business often embrace the creativity in their innovation and strategy, but struggle with the productivity and consistency.  It is my observation that those with ADHD, on the autism spectrum, dyslexia, or mental illnesses realize their need to balance out their creative drive with productive counterparts, leading them to hire team members sooner rather than later. This results in well balanced, highly creative, strategic, and productive teams who embrace innovation.

    Neurodivergent CEOs often bring special types of skills (often at extraordinary levels) to their leadership.

    • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): can pick out patterns others can’t see, are often highly focused on specific tasks and projects, have strengths related to working with technology and systems,  thrive in routines and patterns, and excel at detail focused work. 
    • ADD/ADHD: are known to be highly creative, risk tolerant, adaptable to change, empathetic and intuitive at a high level which makes some ADHD CEO’s exceptional managers and leaders. Individuals with ADHD often continuously seek knowledge, are lifelong learners, and so are often open to new ways of thinking and new ideas leaving lots of room for innovation in a highly competitive and saturated market.
    • Dyslexia: those with dyslexia often are used to adapting and thinking outside the box.  They can often see the bigger picture and are complemented clearly with those who are more tasks and data driven.  It seems like it would be much more difficult to adapt a business model to a CEO with dyslexia.  However, dyslexic adults can be highly successful and productive in the workplace with the right accommodations. As a matter of fact, there has never been a better time for careers for dyslexic individuals. With remote learning, audio options, and recorded meetings, dyslexic CEOs just need a supportive environment with the right business structure in order to perform at a high level.

    Neurodivergent CEOs in online business hire teams sooner, with more clarity, and often without the ego and mindset issues that often comes with neurotypical CEOs.

    Grab the 6 Must Have Employee Policies For Your Online Business

    As a result, their businesses grow and scale in a predictable and calculated way. They don’t wait until they bottleneck their business for 5 years to get help. They are not afraid to find the next way around the problem, and they often need help sooner with things like operations, admin, tech, or even coaching.

    Neurodivergent people have had to ask for help for their entire lives. So when it came to asking for help for their business, they knew exactly what would help them succeed (at least at first), and they weren’t afraid to go for it.

    My client/friend with ADHD told me, “I hired my Operations Manager to keep me on track- she’s like my business babysitter.”

    It just got me thinking about all the wonderful ways in which we are able to make this industry work for us. Whether it be to fulfill our purpose, or just to find a job that lets us truly be ourselves– even if we had to start our own company to get here.

    So, if you’re a neurotypical individual that feels a little overwhelmed or are noticing a plateau in your business, maybe you can take advice from your closest biz bestie with an anxiety disorder (me?) and figure out how to sidestep your way around your obstacles and get yourself some clear and pinpointed help.

    This post was not meant to address every type of mental or physical obstacle that many individuals live with. Mental illness, while often discussed in neurodivergence, is a close relative.  We also acknowledge chronic illness and physical and intellectual disabilities. When learning to be truly inclusive in the online business space. 

    Read more about how to be inclusive in managing and hiring chronically ill employees and candidates with our interview with Jackie Coffin here

    So what does this have to do with HR?

    Human resources is, by definition, the management of all aspects of the “human capital” ((puke)) in business.  Paradigm wants to change the stigma about HR in the development of the online business space.  We help online businesses owners plan their people operations strategy. This includes company policies, training and development, recruiting, hiring, and managing humans. Since many of our clients are service based organizations, there is a TON of impact that can be made and no excuse to not do better than our best t build inclusive practices into the structure of our people strategy.

    It is my hope and goal that one day we can become intentional employers of teams full of all different types of diverse individuals, and we can become more compassionate businesses that are built for all the different types of beautiful brains out there. HR has a role in changing this path, and so then I do too.

    Want to be a part of the discussion?

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    PS: I am still learning about all the ways in which we are to discuss sometimes sensitive issues surrounding the labels, nomenclature, and ideas in an open way. If in writing my thoughts I have made a mistake, been offensive or hurtful, or there is some education that I might find helpful in writing about this topic, please feel free to share with me any resources you have. I am constantly learning and am open to all constructive criticism.







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