What do Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Anita Roddick and Ingvar Kamprad have in common? They all started enormously successful companies. And they did it despite being dyslexic.
Dyslexia might create an extra hurdle at school or university, but it doesn’t seem to dint innovation – or ambition. Those with the condition are disproportionately represented among the entrepreneur set, with 35% of company founders saying that they have the condition, compared to just 15% of the general population.
According to Professor Julie Logan of the Cass Business School, this is partly because people with dyslexia know that they must overcompensate in other areas to get over the difficulties that written communication presents, often developing excellent skills in areas which particularly suit the entrepreneurial mindset.
“Dyslexic entrepreneurs reported as good or excellent at oral communication, delegation, creative and spatial awareness tasks, whilst non-dyslexics reported as average or good,” Logan told the Guardian.
James Banister, CEO of FXecosystem, agrees. Commenting on his personal experience of dyslexia, he says: “Its strengths are ones which are particularly useful in building a strong company – problem-solving abilities, strong reasoning and being able to picture how circumstances will evolve.
“I consciously focus on the wider picture and likely consequences, for example in formulating my business strategy. Dyslexia doesn’t impede my ability see and analyse things – I may simply see them differently from other people.”
None of this means that dyslexics somehow have it easier than their counterparts when it comes to business – far from it. After all, by the time they reach adulthood, many sufferers have had their confidence severely knocked by an educational system that still isn’t sure how to make the most of skills that don’t involve the “3 Rs” of reading, writing and arithmetic. But those who overcome the hurdles of dyslexia demonstrate perfectly how business success has little do with formal education –it’s far more reliant on a person’s people skills, creativity and graft.