Sir Jackie Stewart launches mentoring scheme for Dyslexic entrepreneurs

March 12, 2009

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has launched a mentoring scheme, in conjunction with Cass Business School, City University London, and Dyslexia Scotland, to link entrepreneurs with dyslexia with successful dyslexic people who will share the benefit of their experience and knowledge.

Sir Jackie Stewart, President of Dyslexia Scotland and Vice President of the British Dyslexia Association, was key speaker at the launch event and will be a mentor. Other keynote speakers and mentors included Zenna Atkins, Chair of Ofsted, Jonty Hearnden, TV Antiques Expert, and Louis Barnett, founder of Chokolit.

The programme is an informal mentoring scheme, which is designed to be flexible. The emphasis is on two people getting together who share something in common – dyslexia. The aim is for the mentor to share some of their coping strategies and above all instil confidence in the mentee. The scheme is based on the reality that too often the positive attributes of being dyslexic are forgotten and not even recognised by the individual themselves. The scheme is about celebrating the positive side of dyslexia and who better to do this then someone who has travelled the same road and who can act as a role model.

The BDA and Dyslexia Scotland believe if dyslexic people in the UK were provided with mentoring to increase their confidence, there could be an increase in the number of dyslexic people unlocking their potential and creating new ventures. If US rates were matched a further 560,000 UK entrepreneurs would exist [1].

1. Logan J, Hendry, C., Brown, J., Courtney, N. (2008), ‘Unlocking the potential of the UK’s hidden innovators’, Microsoft UK; sponsored by: Microsoft


A ‘Conversation’ about Dyslexia & Entrepreneurship

February 15, 2009

Last week I was invited to Arizona by the Kauffman Foundation to attend a closed ‘conversation’  between a small group of thinkers and doers for the purpose of better understanding dyslexia and entrepreneurship, and the possible links between the two.  The group, consisting of successful dyslexic entrepreneurs, educators and leading scientific researchers, spent two and a half days exploring the possibility of introducing a new study to extend the initial findings of Professor Julie Logan in this area [1].

As a dyslexic entrepreneur and academic researcher myself, this is an area of research which is close to my heart and one which I will continue to follow closely in my blog.

[1] Logan, J. (2007) Failures in education system cause UK to produce less dyslexic entrepreneurs than the US. CASS 

The UK’s Hidden Innovators

May 25, 2008

New research conducted by Cass Business School’s Centre for New Technologies, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CENTIVE) sponsored by Microsoft, has revealed that a latent pool of hidden innovators could potentially add a staggering £15 Billion to the UK economy by 2012 if the right conditions were created according to the latest government figures.

The report, Unlocking the potential of UK’s Hidden Innovators, which combined in depth statistical research with qualitative case study analysis, was conducted over a six month period. It examined how we might unlock the barriers and pathways to entrepreneurial innovation in three important groups, recognised for their entrepreneurial potential:

  • “Olderpreneurs” (those aged over 50)
  • Black Minority and Ethnic (BME)
  • People with a disability (including dyslexia)

Older entrepreneurs, ‘olderpreneurs’ could contribute an increased 17% of the potential uplift to the UK economy by 2012 and will be key to capitalising on this innovation opportunity as the size of this group expands over the next four years. With a wealth of experience and insight built up over their careers, this group has the highest rate of business success and longevity, with over 70% of start-ups lasting more than three years, compared with 28% for younger entrepreneurs. Moreover, with those over 55 set to account for a third of the UK population by 2025, older entrepreneurs are well placed to tap into the fast-growing potential marketplace through their shared experiences and understanding, the report reveals.

One of the report’s key findings is that entrepreneurial self-confidence is a critical issue for all the hidden innovator groups and a major barrier in pursuing an entrepreneurial path. However, it also reveals that this self-confidence can be nurtured if there is a culture of entrepreneurship to support it.

Entrepreneurship and the gift of Dyslexia

January 24, 2008

Professor Julie Logan from the CASS Business School has completed a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States (The New York Times 06 Dec 07) which suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought, with 35% of entrepreneurs surveyed identifying themselves as dyslexic. These finding support an earlier study carried out in the U.K. by Logan [1] which found that the incidence of dyslexia in entrepreneurs was five times higher than that in the corporate manager population. This is due in part to dyslexics higher degree of creativity, increased need for achievement and enhanced communication skills.

The full extent of dyslexia among the general population is still being discovered, but it is reported to be between 4-10%, depending on its severity [2]. Public opinion of this condition, which is classified as a ‘learning disability’, may well need to be reassessed as a ‘gift’ to nascent entrepreneurs that potential investors should become more aware of. Famous entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple), Richard Branson (Virgin), Alan Sugar (Amstrad), John Cambers (Cisco) and the late Anita Roddick (Body Shop) are all reported to be dyslexic.

As a dyslexic entrepreneur myself I’m pleased to see that some of the more positive aspects of dyslexia are now being studied by academics and covered in leading international business journals such as BusinessWeek (12 Dec 07, Why Dyslexics make Great Entrepreneurs).  Hopefully this will encourage many more successful ‘closet dyslexics’ in the business community to openly admit their situation, and become positive role models for young dyslexics who might be struggling to decide on the future direction of their careers?

[1] Logan, J. (2002). The incidence of dyslexia in business managers and its relationship with entrepreneurial success. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Conference. Nottingham
[2] Harris, A. and Ross, C. (2005). Dyslexia in the workplace. Occupational Health, 57, (3) pp25-32