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Dyslexia creates Entrepreneurs

Interview with British Dyslexia Association

 

Kane is an entrepreneur and founder of Ask Mummy and Daddy. He left school at the age of 15 with no GCSEs and no idea what he wanted to do. After a successful career in retail and operations he started his own business – Ask Mummy and Daddy. We’ve interviewed Kane about his successes and top tips for young entrepreneurs with dyslexia.

 

Tell us a bit about your background. When were you diagnosed and how was school for you?

I was born in London and have lived in Fulham all my life. My dad makes and sells furniture and my mum has a shop selling furniture. I went to a Catholic school that was quite strict and I really struggled. I wasn’t able to concentrate very well or sit still for long periods of time and I found exams really daunting. I didn’t get any GCSE’s at all. I was an intelligent kid with a head full of ideas, but I wasn’t able to express them. I was always afraid of looking silly in class, so I didn’t like to speak up.

I was quite behind academically and they called my parents in. The teachers had noticed I had trouble with spelling and written work and they picked up that there was something wrong. I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 11.

 

Did you get the support you needed at school – if not, what was missing?

There was some support. Because they knew I had dyslexia, some allowances were made, for example, in some subjects, I was tested on course work rather than work I produced in a three-hour exam. That happened with religious studies, which wasn’t much help, as I didn’t like the subject. I know things have changed a lot now and that teachers understand that kids with dyslexia need a different approach, for the teaching to be tailored to the way they learn. With me, I was still in the same classroom with everyone else, being taught in the same way and it just didn’t work. I also think all kids should be encouraged to excel at what they are good at, even if it’s not academic.

 

Tell us about Ask Mummy and Daddy, where did you get your inspiration to start your own business?

I always wanted to have my own business and I suppose my parents were both good role models for that. Before setting up Ask Mummy And Daddy, I worked for a company called Biscuiteers that specialises in biscuits as personalized gifts. I saw that there was a real niche for food gifting and I thought that would work well for a confectionary business and I’m not going to lie, I do have a sweet tooth too! Everyone likes sweets and everyone has something to celebrate, so it made sense. I’d been involved in retail since leaving school at 15. I worked for Cath Kidston for 10 years. She was a friend and mentor and I learned a lot while I was there.

 

What challenges has dyslexia created in starting your own business?

I struggle with spreadsheets and numbers, but the solution to that was to team up with a business partner who is an accountant. Concentration is difficult for me too.

 

What positives has dyslexia had for you in running a business?

My mind never stops. I am always coming up with new ideas and my business partner will say ‘Kane, can we not just finish something before we start a new thing?’ I am always thinking of something different that nobody else is doing and that is great in business because it means you are never left behind.

 

What positives has dyslexia had for you in running a business?

My mind never stops. I am always coming up with new ideas and my business partner will say ‘Kane, can we not just finish something before we start a new thing?’ I am always thinking of something different that nobody else is doing and that is great in business because it means you are never left behind.

 

What support do you think people should provide for dyslexic people in the workplace?

Well, firstly, I think understanding is important. I was given so much help and support when I worked for Cath Kidston. I also think it makes sense to get people to do the things they are really good at while asking someone else to support with the things they are not. I get other people to do my SEO, my social media and my website, because I can’t do those things, they don’t play to my strengths. An accountant gave me a great tool to help me concentrate, it’s a journal that asks you to make a note of daily and weekly targets and milestones. It helps me organise my thoughts and track progress. It also asks you to write down your big wins. It’s good to remember to do that, to remember how far you have come and how well you are doing.

 

Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs with dyslexia?

Firstly, I’d say find a mentor or a job where you can watch and see how a business operates. Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Listen to people and don’t jump in all guns blazing. Make lists and write things down. Also, if you can, get people to do the things you are not so good at. And remember, a business needs to make money, so before you start, work out the figures. And do something you enjoy. I love what I do, which is good because running a business does take over your life.

 

Throughout Dyslexia Week, the British Dyslexia Association are asking people to sign their petition to increase access to assessment in schools. Join their campaign by visiting www.change.org/bdadyslexia

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