By Sophia Auld
Almost every business needs technology, but the right tools and mobile apps can be especially helpful if you’re a business owner with ADHD. They can assist you to run your business efficiently and provide support if you experience challenges with planning, organizing and keeping on track with tasks.
We’ve gathered expert info on 10 tools that business owners with ADHD might consider using. Our experts also offer tips to help you choose the right ones.
But first, let’s look briefly at why people with ADHD can make great business owners.
Wired for Business
Entrepreneurship and ADHD seem to be connected. One large-scale study found people with ADHD were more likely to have entrepreneurial intentions and initiate business ventures. Another study found a positive association between ADHD symptoms and self-employment.
Running a business often suits adults with ADHD.
“It’s in our blood,” says Tamara Rosier, Ph.D., author of Your Brain’s Not Broken and founder of the ADHD Center of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, Mich. “I was speaking recently to a trial lawyer with ADHD who started a side hustle quilting. We just can’t help ourselves.”
Rosier says the excitement of entrepreneurship helps explain its appeal for people with ADHD.
“We’re motivated by passion and vision, not necessarily by showing up at work every day and going through the motions,” she says.
Ryan Mayer, a certified ADHD coach from Cleveland, Ohio, who specializes in working with adults with ADHD, agrees.
“Many of us with ADHD started our businesses because we either didn’t fit the corporate mold, don’t like working for someone else, or have big ideas that others are not ready for,” he says. “We are the visionaries.”
Running a business can also suit diverse working styles.
“Many ADHD folks don’t like to work a typical day,” says Rosier. “The lawyer likes to start working around 4 p.m. and keep working through the night. You can’t do that with a boss looking over your shoulder.”
10 Business Tools for People with ADHD
So, people with ADHD are more likely to start their own businesses. But all business owners — and especially those with ADHD — can always use some extra help.
Here are some recommendations on favorite ADHD business tools from Rosier, Mayer and Tracy Sheen, a business digital technology expert who operates The Digital Guide.
Tools that Support Executive Function
Executive function challenges are common ADHD adult symptoms. Technology can help with things like focus and emotional regulation. Here are some recommendations:
#1 — The Tapping Solution
Rosier suggests managing your brain before your business. For this purpose, she recommends The Tapping Solution. Based on the Emotional Freedom Technique — a blend of Chinese acupressure and modern psychology — the app instructs you to tap your fingertips on acupressure points while you think about a specific issue.
For example, you can select “motivate me to work today,” Rosier says, and it will guide you through where to tap and what to say.
“For me, it’s the number one app,” Rosier says. “I’m just finishing my second book manuscript. When I don’t want to write, I open it and start tapping through the points.”
She says it can also help slow the racing, anxious thoughts that are common in entrepreneurs with ADHD.
#2 — Breathwork apps
Different breathing techniques can regulate your emotional state by helping to heighten your energy or calm you down, Rosier says. A wide variety of apps can take you through breathing exercises. Rosier recommends Breathwrk.
#3 — Noise cancelling headphones
People with ADHD can be easily distracted by sounds. Noise cancelling headphones can help you find calm amid chaos, Mayer says.
“While it may not be a tech platform, it’s the single best piece of personal technology I’ve purchased for ADHD management,” he says. He recommends the Bose QuietComfort® model.
Tools to Help with Planning
Technology can support business owners with ADHD who find planning difficult. Our experts recommend the following tools:
#4 — Calendly
Mayer says scheduling platform Calendly eliminates the “frustrating back-and-forth of booking meetings.” It helps you find a suitable meeting time for all participants. It can be embedded on your website and connected to your calendars so people can see when you’re available. It can also automate communication before and after meetings.
#5 — Online calendar
A good calendar tool helps you schedule your days and get a handle on how long tasks take, says Sheen, who’s based in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. Sheen helps business owners overcome technophobia and leverage technology in their businesses.
“Of every tool I use, a calendar is the number one piece of tech I recommend,” she says. A digital calendar is especially helpful “if you struggle, like I do, with time blindness.
Rosier agrees a calendar app is essential. She adds a related piece of advice: Schedule some time to dream about the future of your business.
Tools to Help You Run Your Business
Experts recommend these tools to support your day-to-day business operations:
#6 — Text-to-voice solutions
These can help if you find reading difficult, Mayer says, which can lead to missed messages and miscommunication.
“I use them to read something when my ADHD brain doesn’t feel like it,” he says. “They’re great for reading long emails or documents while on the go or completing chores around the house.”
He explains that on a laptop, you can choose a block of text, right-click, then select “Speech” or “Read aloud.” Your computer will speak the text out to you. On an iPhone, you can activate the screen reader by swiping down with two fingers, Mayer says.
Numerous text-to-speech software solutions are also available, many of them free.
#7 — Business software bundles
How do they help business owners with ADHD? “No more overwhelm regarding what version of something to use, or where to look for a document,” he says.
#8 — Chatbots and artificial intelligence tools
On managing files, Sheen likes the chatbots that anyone can set up to scroll their own documents.
“Instead of trying to figure out where you stored that thing, you can ask your own company chatbot and it will collate everything,” she says. “This gives you quick access to documents while providing data on where the details were pulled from.”
You can also connect them to your website to give clients a good user experience, Sheen says.
Google has recently launched Duet, an artificial intelligence assistant for Google Workspace that it likens to “a coach, source of inspiration, and productivity booster” that can help you save time and focus on what matters.
#9 — Content repurposing tools
Do you find it hard to keep creating business content? You may not need to.
“Typically, we all have a lot of content sitting around,” Sheen says. “These tools are designed to help you repurpose content and give it a fresh take.”
#10 — Virtual assistant
Mayer says a virtual assistant, or VA, can help with things like time planning, prioritizing and following through important tasks.
“Getting a virtual assistant helps connect the dots in our minds,” he says. “It’s the perfect match where technology meets human teamwork.”
Mayer recommends BA Enterprises.
He has a call each morning with his virtual assistant, who finishes the detailed work he doesn’t like to do. “My business could not run nearly as effectively as it does without my VA,” Mayer says.
Choosing Tools to Suit Your Business
With the huge range of business technologies available, you’ll need to know where to start. Here are some recommendations:
• Review Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Mayer suggests taking a piece of paper and folding it in half lengthwise to create two vertical columns. In the left column, list as many strengths as you can. On the right, list your weaknesses. Then pick the top three weaknesses that affect how you run your business. Choose technologies that can best support you in those areas.
• Focus on Value
Mayer adds that for small business owners, it’s easy to justify not investing in something to save money. However, “think about how much more effective you can be if you free up mental bandwidth to focus on things you do exceptionally well,” he says.
“When we spend more time in our areas of strength, we can be more effective, driving more results, which will bring in more revenue for the business,” he says. “The investments you make in technology to support you and your business will pay for themselves in less than a year, and then you won’t be able to imagine not having them in your daily life.”
• Start With One Thing
Sheen recommends figuring out one big business thing you’d like to work on.
“Don’t pick more than one or you’ll get overwhelmed,” she says. Once you’ve chosen an issue, start exploring solutions, she says.
“ADHD business owners are fantastic at research, so lean on your strengths and take the time to investigate good quality resources,” she says.
Select two to three options you like. Narrow it down to one and sign up for a free trial if possible. Then spend around 15 to 30 minutes each day learning and implementing the new tool.
“If you follow this framework, you’ll know within seven days whether your chosen tech tool is going to resolve the identified business problem,” Sheen says. “If it’s working, great … keep going. If it’s not, ditch the tool and select the next one on your list.”
Rosier cautions that people with ADHD can sometimes “fall down a rabbit hole” of research, wasting hours trying to find exactly the right app. She says you can start with one that’s close enough.
• Stick With What Works
ADHD entrepreneurs have lots of ideas, which can lead them to incessantly hunt for new or different apps, Rosier says. She suggests choosing one or two apps and sticking with them, “even when they’re not sexy anymore.”
You might come across something that seems better, but consider whether the work of migrating to another tool is worthwhile.
• Stay Curious
Sheen notes that technology and business are always changing. She suggests setting aside 15 minutes every day to read, watch or listen to something that interests you.
“Find technology experts you enjoy following and stay connected to what they are sharing,” she says.