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ADHD sufferers should become entrepreneurs, researchers say

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can harness their symptoms by becoming entrepreneurs, researchers say.

A study by the University of Bath found symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsiveness, which pose daily challenges to those with ADHD, can be beneficial.

Such symptoms can have a positive impact on entrepreneurial traits such as risk taking, persistence and time commitment.

Impulsiveness - which people with ADHD can find difficult to suppress - results in bold business decisions made intuitively without considering the consequences.

Several participants in the study cited boredom in previous jobs as a reason for setting up their own company, where they could follow their own ideas when they wanted.

People with ADHD display an unusual level of concentration, known as hyperfocus, when they have a strong interest in a task.

This can translate into expertise which paves the way for gaining a substantial competitive advantage, the researchers say.

The study found those with ADHD often work day and night without taking time off due to hyperfocus and physical restlessness associated with the disorder.

Professor Dimo Dimov, from the university's School of Management, said: "Successful entrepreneurs are frequently reported to have ADHD so it's interesting to look at why this might be.

"The study of entrepreneurs with ADHD shows that the condition was a key factor in their decision go into business for themselves and it positively impacted on important entrepreneurial traits."

The study, published in the Journal of Business Venturing Insights, involved 14 self-employed people with ADHD, who were asked about their diagnoses, careers and personal background.

Many of those surveyed said they act without thinking in business, even when making far-reaching decisions.

One described buying a friend's company over lunch after learning of their plans to retire over the meal.

For people with ADHD, an advantage of running their own business is that they can set their own hours.

Professor Holger Patzelt, of the Entrepreneurial Research Institute at the Technical University of Munich, added: "Impulsiveness has a special role to play.

"For people with ADHD it is okay to make intuitive decisions even if the results are bad.

"In situations that would be highly stressful for others, such as difficult meetings with important customers, many of those surveyed felt at ease and stimulated.

"Their impulsiveness gives them the advantage of being able to act under unforeseen circumstances without falling into anxiety and paralysis."

One third of those surveyed failed in their business ventures or had little success.

However, the researchers hope the study will promote a new look at entrepreneurship .

Professor Johan Wiklund, of Syracuse University, said: "The way we evaluate entrepreneurial decisions is largely based on rationality and good outcomes.

"In view of the multitude of uncertainties, however, can such decisions always be rational? People with ADHD show us a different logic that is perhaps better suited to entrepreneurship."

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