For budding entrepreneurs with disabilities, there’s no need to let a diagnosis get in the way of success. In fact, individuals with disabilities have a higher rate of entrepreneurship – 13% compared to those without disabilities (10%,) Hubspot reports. Even though launching and maintaining a lucrative business poses a number of challenges, many entrepreneurs with disabilities have already paved the way for success.
Savvy thinking and determination
Glenda Watson Hyatt was born with cerebral palsy. She has speech impairment, can only type with her left thumb, and uses a wheelchair. Muscle weakness, poor balance and coordination, and difficulty speaking are common symptoms of cerebral palsy, and individuals typically require a range of support and therapies, as detailed on this cerebral palsy resources site. Nonetheless, fourteen years ago, after struggling to find a job, Hyatt successfully launched her own online consultancy, which helps companies make websites more accessible to people with disabilities. Working from home on flexible hours allows her to best accommodate her disability. With savvy thinking and determination, Hyatt conquered her biggest challenges. For example, completion software and word prediction boosts her productivity and output despite her being able to only type with one thumb. She also uses text chat during virtual meetings. “Most days I don’t think about having cerebral palsy and using a scooter. I’m too busy to be disabled,” Hyatt says.
Be business minded
In 2004, Bram Cohen founded BitTorrent, a decentralized peer-to-peer sharing system that allows individuals to distribute large amounts of data over the internet. Although this successful computer programmer is well known amongst tech fans, it’s lesser known that Cohen has Aspergers syndrome, a developmental disorder that makes it difficult to effectively communicate and socialize. However, Cohen hasn’t let his diagnosis hinder his success. Quite the opposite. In fact, Cohen says his Aspergers has made him a better entrepreneur. Although navigating social situations can be difficult, since his brain works in a unique way, he’s able to better tackle and solve problems to move his business forward faster.
Play to your strengths
After founding FUBU, a successful fashion company, in the 90s, entrepreneur Daymond John later became a famous investor on the reality TV show Shark Tank. John also happens to be diagnosed with dyslexia. “In math and science, I would excel,” said John about his school years in an interview with the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. “I could look at something quickly and get high grades, A’s and B’s. Yet reading and spelling were another story.” Just like Cohen, however, John also learned to use his disability to make him a better entrepreneur. He became motivated to strengthen his mathematical and analytical skills rather than waste time on reading tasks he would inevitably struggle with; those tasks he smartly delegated to others.
Disabilities needn’t be barriers to entrepreneurship.
These success stories prove that anyone can run a lucrative business by strengthening their talents and keeping a positive and determined mindset.