ADHD and Entrepreneurship: Why You’re Not Actually Selling Anything Even Though You Think You Are

Hard Truth: You’re not selling well online or on social media, even though you think you are.

You probably have known there’s something off with your business, but you don’t know what it is.

As an neurodivergent business owner, Do you keep finding yourself comparing your successes to other successful entrepreneurs and feeling like they have some special tools or skills that you’re missing out on? Or maybe you feel like your skills aren’t up to par compared to others in your field. Feeling like you know your stuff but also like you know nothing?

If any of these sound familiar, then this article is probably written just for you! Keep reading…

Hi! I’m Nia Patterson, an entrepreneur who has built at least 5 businesses from the ground up in various fields and has several more on the way. Almost all of my businesses involve using social media to sell services or products (both online and offline) to an extent, so when I say I have experience “selling products” I know what I’m talking about!

Let’s jump in with some reasons why ADHD Entrepreneurs might be struggling with sales and how they can overcome them by understanding the nature of their condition and how it affects their ability to sell effectively.

How ADHD works makes it both a superpower and also a super-weakness

I’m going to assume if you’re reading this you already know you (or someone you know) has ADHD and is probably also running a business? Am I spot on?

There are many aspects of ADHD that might affect how you run your business, but for the sake of this article we’re going to focus on object permanence, time blindness, and executive function (or dysfunction).

Object permanence is the ability to remember that things still exist even when they can’t be seen. In business, this means remembering that customers are still out there and your product or service is still relevant and needed — even if it’s a struggle to sell it right now.

Time blindness is the inability to understand how much time has passed (or how much more time needs to pass) before something will happen. This can make it difficult for ADHD entrepreneurs to estimate their workload, plan ahead, and stick with tasks until they’re finished. When was the last time you tried to shove 3 weeks worth of work into 3 hours? Yea…that’s time blindness.

Executive function here can be the inability to get up and do the things. It can be a struggle to start doing something or keep doing it. Even if you’re sitting there thinking about how badly you want to be doing it, you may feel like you still can’t find the will to do it.

Now that we’ve gained clarity around these three terms, let’s talk about…

Why you may be struggling with expanding and/or selling in your business

If you’re an ADHD Entrepreneur, you may be struggling with expanding your business and selling your services. Here are a few potential reasons for this:

  • If you’re an ADHDer struggling with object permanence it’s likely that you already are showing up to run your business but you might be forgetting your purpose in showing up or what’s behind your desire to work with clients 1:1. Maybe you don’t remember exactly what your product will do to change the world or your ADHD client’s world.
  • If you’re an ADHDer struggling with time blindness it might be that you think you’re selling your products everyday on Instagram stories (like we’re told we’re supposed to) but really days and days go by before you talk about your products. So in your mind, it’s everyday but in reality, your audience hardly even knows that you’re selling anything amongst those ADHD memes you keep posting! Sound familiar?
  • If you’re an ADHDer struggling with executive functioning you probably know exactly what you need to do to grow your business. You know how you need to show up and the ways that will work best. You probably even do really well at those things when you do show up! But also, chances are you’re stuck on the couch doomscrolling on social media saving content ideas instead of getting up and sitting down in front of your computer to create them. Yes?
If any of these are resonating with you, comment and let me know which one has you pinned?

Tips to overcome these ADHD-specific weaknesses

So, great, now you know maybe what’s going on and where you’re struggling but, uhm, wouldn’t it be nice to have some suggestions to combat those struggles?

Well, here are some tips to overcoming ADHD-specific weaknesses like these:

  • Make a list of what you need to do that is visual — Post it notes, whiteboards, planners, mindmap; whatever suits your style.
  • Use some sort of planner or task list to keep track of what you need to do — if you’re struggling with time blindness, this will be vital for keeping track of business tasks over the course of the week or month ahead. Even if it’s just post it notes on your office door, I highly recommend having at least one major task list somewhere in order avoid getting overwhelmed with trying to remember everything all at once (which leads us into…).
  • Plan out your business tasks for the week or month ahead IN ADVANCE — You’ll want to consider prioritizing certain tasks before moving onto others based on their importance as well as how long they require in order for completion (e.g., writing blog posts). Keep track of what has been done already so that nothing falls through the cracks! This can be done by using color coding, placing check marks next each item when completed, ripping the post-it notes off the wall, and/or adding exclamation points after items when extremely important (i.e. “!!! Write blog post on Monday”).
  • Next, try to write down any thoughts related specifically toward those projects/items which come up throughout your day — this way there’s less chance that they’ll get lost amidst everything else happening around them.
  • One last trick is to hack your executive function and get you up and working again! Our neurodivergent brains love new and shiny dopamine tricks and hacks, so use that to your advantage. Try using systems like the pomodoro method, body doubling, or focus music playlists (there are a ton on Youtube and Spotify) to start the tasks that feel impossible. Don’t worry if one hack stops working, that’s an inevitable part of life with ADHD. Just move on to the next idea and try again!

Remember, there is no shame in being an ADHDer who is struggling with their business or entrepreneurship. We each have our own strengths and our own weaknesses. There’s no way we can’t be good at EVERYTHING — even though we wish we were! But, if you’re currently struggling with expanding your business or selling your services, then it may be time for some self-reflection.

Ask yourself: what part of this article felt familiar to you? And START there. If you’re still struggling with some of these things, drop a comment below with your question and I’ll get back to you!

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