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Hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsivity... Building a business with ADHD

Written by guest contributor Jade Bartholomew

Beep beep beep. You, have, 21, new, reminders. Dong, dong, dong – reminder, meeting in 15 minutes. 14 minutes later, dong, dong, dong – reminder, your meeting is about to start. [Gathers the 4 notebooks used to make notes on the same meeting, loads a web browser to take live notes, starts a screen record in case anything is forgotten]

As I write this, I feel hungry. I go to get a banana, realise I’ve left my lunch bag in the car and also notice my bag needs a clean out. I head to the bin, empty contents and realise flowers need more water. I stop, breathe in and out, and come back to writing. I realise I’ve drifted.

It’s 08:15 and already my brain is racing. Luckily I have my weekly planner sellotaped to my desk, incrementally organising my week into half an hour time slots, to keep me on track. And a bloody good team around me who understand and help keep me focused. I may as well add Siri and Alexa to our ‘Team’ page at this point, they’re so valuable to the daily running of my six-figure business, Sierra Six Media.

Living and working with ADHD is fun, unpredictable and spontaneous – I’ve learned to love it, but it hasn’t always been that way.

It’s hard to put into words so I’ll let this illustration do some talking:

ADHD traits

Having an attention deficit is unhelpful in most circumstances. It means you find it difficult to concentrate on a task or a conversation you’re not 100% invested in. Tasks require much more structure to get complete and some conversations can leave me totally glazed over and unresponsive. Comments like ‘your face says it all’ flow in. Apply that to a work, school or relationship situation and you can see why my circle is incredibly small and why working for myself is a better idea. My lack of paying attention can be deemed rude or ignorant! Totally not the vibe I was going for!

The reality is that whilst I’m listening, I’m doing my utmost to find solutions and problem solve in real-time. I’m hyper-focused on achieving a valuable outcome from the conversation. I’m passionate about moving on to the next problem, the next idea, the next discussion point as to maximise our time. I like to come to meetings with a clear agenda, bullet points, email invite sent with outcomes defined. Following business conversations, my immediate follow up will always include an actionable list, emailed and typed up in a to-do list on a mutual message board. Because I’m poor at planning, and good at actioning, I’ve found ways to get things done in a way which suits me...and all my clients think I’m the most organised person in town as a result!

I love it when my ADHD kicks in, in certain situations. We all come across negative people, across gossips and across those who love to moan and blame. I totally switch off when these people arise. I literally shut down, don’t respond and walk away. They think I’m so rude they never speak to me again and I get called the ‘bossy’ or ‘stroppy’ one. One of my favourite sayings is ‘vibrate so high that toxic people don’t know how to approach you’. Exactly that. My journey to mindfulness with ADHD means I protect my peace at all costs and negative distractions, like with most people, are unwelcomed.

Hyperfocus and impulsivity

Need to hire? Need a new office? A new website? A rebrand? And £30k new business to fund it all?

The average person is likely to spend at least a couple of months planning for this.

Nope. 6 weeks. All tasks complete. Added team members, a new office, a photoshoot for staff members, newly branded merchandise, a new website, new social media channels and content strategy along with a full rebrand and the new clients needed to grow!

When I love what I’m doing - you cannot stop me. I’m 100% fully committed to it.

You see, those with ADHD tend be impulsive and sensation seeking, typically not as scared of taking risk and rely on the hyperfocus to support impulsive decisions. I will work relentlessly to make my decisions successful ones, and so far, so good. I trust myself and I trust my ability to hire good staff thus I trust my team and continue to move forwards.

Some people tell me to ‘slow down’ and to be careful not to ‘burn the candle at both ends’ but I feel they forget that I’m passionately caught up doing something I love and very fortunate to earn a living from. My Mum and sister know me inside-out and fully support all of my ideas without holding me back. We’re a great team.

ADHD and Mental Health

It’s mental health awareness week and this article is being featured. The media and doctors call ADHD a mental illness, but I couldn’t disagree more. I think it’s greatly misrepresented until you Google ‘how to run a business with ADHD’ and you find out that Ricahrd Branson, Bill Gates and Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad are all ‘diagnosed’.

I think there needs to be an Entrepreneurial programme at secondary schools to harness the energy and short-attention span of those with ADHD but wouldn’t agree it’s a medical condition. Those with ADHD are often at their best in crisis mode and in high-pressure situations; it’s common therefore to suffer from 1 or more mental health issues including anxiety and depression. I can see the link here between ADHD and mental health but more awareness must be brought to exactly that - the link between the two.

I think it’s important to note that I’ve developed healthy habits as a result of having ADHD. I can’t sit still. I decorate, cook, sew, play golf, swim, learn Spanish and lots of other cool and wonderful hobbies to pass time and learn new skills. Subsequently, I’ve learned how to be on my own, how to get mindfulness and how to enjoy my own company. I really do love the pace of my life and I can only thank ADHD for that.

I’ve rambled and likely gone off-topic but if this article resonates with anyone and you’d like to chat, please do feel free to get in touch:

About the author:

Jade Bartholomew, 28, is an ambitious SEO and PPC agency owner from Billericay, Essex. With 12 years in the industry and some challenges along the way, Jade is determined to help other SME’s grow in the online space whilst relentlessly striving to put women in senior positions at her firm, Sierra Six Media. A mentor at Bloom UK and Women In PPC Jade wants to make changes in the digital space and bring other likeminded females along with her on the journey.

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*All photos provided by Jade Bartholomew.


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