The data is hard to believe:
It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.
The report, compiled by Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, found that more than a third of the entrepreneurs she had surveyed — 35 percent — identified themselves as dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority, to excel in oral communication and problem solving and were twice as likely to own two or more businesses.
Keep in mind that only 10 percent of Americans are believed to have dyslexia, so the percentage of business owners with dyslexia is a very significant aberration. The explanation seems to be that children with dyslexia develop compensatory mechanisms that allow them to excel in business. They turn a potential disability into a new set of cognitive skills.
One reason that dyslexics are drawn to entrepreneurship, Professor Logan said, is that strategies they have used since childhood to offset their weaknesses in written communication and organizational ability — identifying trustworthy people and handing over major responsibilities to them — can be applied to businesses.
“The willingness to delegate authority gives them a significant advantage over nondyslexic entrepreneurs, who tend to view their business as their baby and like to be in total control,” she said.
The larger moral of studies like this is that we should never underestimate the importance of neurodiversity. At first glance, dyslexia might seem like an unequivocal disability, a brain disorder that we’d be better off without. But nothing in the mind is that simple, is it?