In 2001 research at the University of Bristol reported 1 in 5 (19%) of the UK entrepreneurs surveyed were dyslexic. This rate is almost double the 10% estimated incidence of dyslexia in the general UK population according to the British Dyslexia Association. This equates to at least 300,000 dyslexic entrepreneurs working in the UK. In 2009 the same researcher, Professor Julie Logan, on behalf of Cass Business School reported 35% of entrepreneurs in a sample from the USA showing characteristics of dyslexia, more than double the general population rate of 15%.
So how many of the entrepreneurs in the UK are aware that they are dyslexic? Research carried out over a ten year period and by three different research teams points to a lack of identification of dyslexia in UK schools. Some of those missed by the school system are later identified at university.
A study in 1999 found that 43% of all dyslexic students were assessed as dyslexic only after they had started their courses. As entrepreneurs do not routinely take the university route there are fewer opportunities for identification. This may mean that dyslexia in current, future and potential entrepreneur is being missed and many may be unaware that entrepreneurship is an area of work where their innovative thinking has been reported to bring significant advantages and rewards.
Indeed Cass Business School say that this lack of identification and intervention:
“may be the reason for the difference in the incidence of dyslexia in the UK
[19%] and US [35%] entrepreneurship populations”.
This situation has significant economic repercussions with the Dyslexia Institute in 2007 estimating that unrecognised dyslexia cost the UK economy as £1 billion per year. But the cost, as Prof. Logan points out in the interview above, is clearly not all economic.
This piece is adapted from In Their Element: The Case for Investing in Dyslexic Entrepreneurs
Jan writes, trains and consults on dyslexia and business.