I have dyslexia and I’m launching my own business at 21

It’s made me a more driven person

There is a clear link between dyslexia and entrepreneurship. Lord Sugar, Anita Roddick, Richard Branson and Jamie Oliver – they all have dyslexia and we just have to look at what they have achieved. Research into dyslexia and entrepreneurship undertaken by Dr Julie Logan, a professor at the Cass School of Business in London, found 35% of business owners surveyed in the USA and the UK were dyslexic, and were more likely to become self-made millionaires.

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. This results in problems with certain abilities used for learning, however intelligence isn’t affected in anyway shape or size. It’s estimated that up to one in five students, and around 15% of the population in the UK has some degree of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a life long problem that can present challenges on a daily basis depending how it affects you.

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I knew from a very early age that I wasn’t on the same level of reading as my peers, and spelling the simplest words was a problem for me. I thought this was normal, however this wasn’t the case and I was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of six by the British Dyslexia Association in Sheffield. From that moment everything fell into place and the reasons I was struggling with reading and spelling became clear.

Throughout my education I have had various support measures in my exams, like extra time, a reader and a laptop. But getting to this level of support hasn’t been easy, as for years the resources in schools weren’t up to scratch. I remember telling a secondary school teacher about my dyslexia and they didn’t even know what it was and how it could affect someone. I felt at that time I should conceal my difficulties, and not mention the word “dyslexia” as the teacher didn’t know how to help me and others with the condition.

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After walking away from secondary school with 11 GCSE’s A* to C, I decided to go down the path of A-Levels. The first set of A-Level results I received in January 2012 were two U’s and a B. I felt like I had failed. After a short time of thinking: “Why am I doing A-Levels?”, I stuck with it, put as much effort in as I could and powered on. At this time, my concentration was an issue for me as I could only focus for around half an hour at a time – this was due to the dyslexia. Nevertheless I came out of college with four A-Levels A* to D and I thought: “Fuck you dyslexia!”.

Many people think that dyslexia simply means not being able to spell or read. Well, dyslexia is a lot more than having issues with spelling, reading or writing. I know this first-hand as a dyslexic student who is now trying to break into the travel industry, launching an App called CompareMyTravel.

I am currently at Northumbria University in my second year studying Business Studies, where there has been a lot that has changed over the years. I feel that there isn’t a stigma around dyslexia anymore and that people can actually help you with your issues with learning, which is great. But most importantly people are willing to talk about dyslexia.

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My main issues with dyslexia have always been reading and spelling. The impact of my dyslexia can differ depending on what I am doing that day or how stressed I am with various things. There are some days where I cant spell simple words like “because” or “through” for example, and it is frustrating. Also it comes to that part of the day after a full morning or afternoon of lectures and seminars where I have to nap for a few hours, as I am mentally tried from looking at different words and text. My spelling is all based on memory and how a word looks – that’s why I often feel exhausted between 3pm and 5pm everyday.

However, I am using my strengths and am now launching my own App called CompareMyTravel across the UK. It’s a transport comparison platform that compares coaches, car journey time, flights and trains to any destination when travelling in the UK. This aims to make travel searching and booking your travel easy and quick, by showing all modes of transport from all operators to your destination and is the first of its kinds to launch in the UK.

CompareMyTravel App launching May, available on the App Store and Google Play for free

Everything has happened so quickly in the last month – from winning the Sunderland Software City App competition and receiving £5,000 to develop CompareMyTravel, and bringing on board my business partner Sam John Pearce. I am also in the early stages of incorporating my company and am working with very talented App developers at iResources in Newcastle. It definitely has been a learning curve but something that I wish to grow into the future.

My personal feelings about living with dyslexia is that it doesn’t set you back in anyway – if anything it makes you work harder to achieve what you want to achieve. Yes, you might go about doing things in a different manor but you have more drive and determination to succeed than the average person because you have dyslexia. This can be seen as a competitive edge in business and is what I have witnessed in myself.

Sam and myself are launching CompareMyTravel in May and it will be available to download for free on the App Store and Google Play. You can also follow our journey to take on the travel industry and make travel booking easier and quicker for every consumer by checking out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and our website.

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