It’s been estimated that 20% of the UK’s entrepreneurs are dyslexic*. I’m one of them.
When I was at school, I could never have imagined that my future could have been what it is. Dyslexic people don’t run businesses, don’t spearhead groundbreaking innovations, don’t have the capacity to be successful in business. Except, they do. They absolutely do. And they can be great at it. It’s about tapping into a different skill set, nurturing less traditional learning patterns, harnessing creativity and unleashing a passion and talent that shouldn’t be constrained by society’s norms.
The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) says that 10% of the population are dyslexic, 4% severely so. Dyslexia is identified as a disability in the Equality Act 2010. It took me a long time to realise that the perceived barriers of dyslexia were barriers that I put in my own way, and that the strength to overcome them came from me, from valuing myself and my own ideas.
I have a vision for business, for how our business can make people’s lives easier. I’m a creative and very visual person. I quite literally illustrate my visions to share with my team, so they can see my meaning without trawling through a huge document. It makes more sense to me. I did a visual process map not long ago and jokingly named all the characters I drew. Now everyone around me is referring to Stella and Derek from my drawings as if they’re part of the team, and they’ve taken centre stage in their project – it’s truly brought it to life.
So it’s about doing things differently. I want to encourage anyone with dyslexia to wear the label with confidence. It’s not a negative. It’s a positive. A positive difference. It gives you a rare perspective. I know from experience. And it’s not just me…there are many, many dyslexic entrepreneurs, talented and accomplished people who have used their strengths to stand out from the crowd – think Richard Branson, Steve Jobs – people I’ve always admired.
I spoke on John Griff’s BBC Radio Northampton show not long ago, during Dyslexia Awareness Week, and said that I’d be prepared to give a significant amount of my time to help raise awareness of the positive difference that dyslexia is. I’m committed to that and I want to make it happen.
Very soon, we’re getting businesses, charities, educational establishments and chambers of commerce around a table together and work out how we can help those with dyslexia flourish, to realise that they have a valuable talent. To work out how employers can do more, to realise that dyslexia can be a positive attribute. It’s important to me and it’s important to the country. Working together, we can make a difference.
*Julie Logan, emeritus professor of entrepreneurship at Cass Business School