One in five entrepreneurs are dyslexic

2004

Virgin's Sir Richard Branson, Amstrad's Sir Alan Sugar, Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers and media magnate Ted Turner are all highly successful business people. And they are all dyslexic.

But now research has found that far from being a hindrance in the business world, having difficulty with words can be a positive advantage.

A study carried out at Simfonec, the Science Enterprise Centre based at the Cass Business School in London, has found that entrepreneurs are five times more likely to have dyslexia than people at managerial level.

The study invited 500 entrepreneurs and managers to take part in a survey which did not specifically mention dyslexia.

According to Simfonec's Director, Dr Julie Foster, who carried out the research, the reason for the startling findings is that the skills developed in overcoming the condition are the same as those needed to drive a business.

"My research shows that entrepreneurs have often failed in the school system and that it was only through creativity and tenacity that they have been able to succeed in business," she said.

"Many dyslexic people had developed skills to compensate for their dyslexia so they had particularly good communication skills. They used these communication skills to harness other people behind their vision for business."

Entrepreneurs also seemed to have a holistic vision of how their business would look, Dr Logan said, which helped them to see the way forward and where they were going.

Management-Issues co-founder, Nicola Hunt, is typical of an entrepreneur who has turned dyslexia into a competitive edge.

"Dyslexic entrepreneurs have a lifetime’s experience of learning to adapt and change quickly in order to compensate for their learning difficulties. This learning is a great asset in today’s complex and fast moving business environment," she said.

Dr Logan added that her findings also held significant lessons for the education system and that innovative ways needed to be devised to teach business and enterprise in ways that did not exclude dyslexic children.