5 Reasons Why I’m Proud to be an “Autistic Business Owner”

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You might be wondering why I’m even drawing attention to the fact that I have autism. Surely that’s something that’s better kept behind doors?

But for me it’s such a huge part of my identity that I cannot separate my autism from myself. It’s literally the wiring in my brain that makes me think and feel the way that I do. The best analogy I’ve been able to think of to describe what it’s like to be autistic, is to try running windows on an apple mac. It’s the same processing system that most people use, but my brain isn’t able to use it correctly.

Rather than hiding what makes me “me”, I thought I’d write a blog highlighting the benefits that having autism can bring. Yes, you heard that right. The benefits. Autism is a difficult condition to live with, it is disabling in a society that isn’t geared up for us, but some of the traits my autism has given me has made me a better business owner, and you’re about to find out why.

  1. Being autistic gives me better observational and visual skills

Being autistic feels a bit like missing out on the “rule book” everyone else gets at birth. The one that tells you how eye contact works, how to make small talk and generally how to be a social person and establish relationships. Many autistics are missing this, myself included. I never know how to make eye contact without feeling like I’m staring, or how to talk about the weather other than “it’s raining today”.

As a result many of us observe other people in an attempt to “learn” how to do it, or at least be able to mimic social interactions well enough to get by. This is called “masking” and is why you probably do have autistic friends without even realising it.

The benefits of having these close observational skills as a business owner is that I take a listen, look and learn approach to my work. I listen to you my client about what you need, I look at your competition and other examples to see the best way of doing things and I learn from that to create unique content that works well for your business.

  1. I’m able to absorb and retain facts easily thanks to being autistic

Although my memory isn’t as good as it used to be, I do have an excellent long-term memory that has served me well through life. When I was an aspiring actress in my teenage years, I could write a page full of my lines and then picture the page in my mind whenever I needed it. Not quite a photographic memory but it was enough to make sure I was line perfect on stage.

What it means for my business is that I can remember details about my clients and what they’ve said that even they might have forgotten (and it probably does come across as weird that I can remember a conversation from two years ago), but it does help me hone in on their particular needs and wants as far as content writing and digital marketing is concerned.

Although I’d say I’m pretty 50 50 in terms of being analytical and creative, the analytical side of my brain does help me with things like those tricky social media algorithms and search engine optimisation when getting technical is essential for a successful blog post.

  1. I have a high level of expertise in my business services

Picture of Zoe Hughes, content writer, using a laptop to create some compelling content for a websiteOne of the persisting stereotypes of autistic individuals is the train spotter, taking photographs of every train he sees and making notes in his jotter. There is some truth to this (although it usually isn’t this extreme in most individuals) in that many autistics have a special interest. In fact it’s in the diagnostic criteria, and it’s something that you’d probably call an obsession. One subject, hobby or interest that they seem to know everything about, such as knowing who run every Formula 1 race, in which car, team and track.

I don’t have one special interest as such (maybe autism itself) but I do go through phases of learning everything I can about something and putting it into practice, like blogging, content marketing, pinterest and SEO. I know how these marketing strategies work, the best way to join the dots and use them all together and how to understand the impact any updates may cause. They can be pretty dry topics for some folks, but I find them interesting and it gives me the expertise necessary to be an effective content marketer.

  1. Being autistic gives me some unique thought processes

Quite simply, my brain doesn’t function in the same way as a neurotypical person’s brain and that leads to my thought processes being quite different. I can’t really explain it because I have no idea how you think, but I know my answers to questions are always different and rather than having a brain full of multiple thoughts at once, I tend to just have one or two thoughts happening at the same time.

I don’t think I’m alone either, PayPal founder Peter Thiel has long been an advocate of autistic employees, saying that they have a single-mindedness that can give them a unique advantage.

I’d just like to point out that the article I’ve just linked to says that Asperger’s is a mild form of autism, it’s not. We no longer use that medical diagnosis and it’s now “Autistic Spectrum Condition” because even someone with a high IQ that can graduate university and “work” can still be significantly affected and struggle in their day to day lives with socialisation, executive functioning, and sensory processing to the point that they are “disabled”. Autism affects people in different ways, please remember that!

Having different thought processes means that I tend to express ideas differently and can find some novel approaches to sharing information and content. In the main, I cut out the fluff and unnecessary chatter that you find in a lot of content writing (because I don’t think it) and I cut straight to the point, something that many of my clients find refreshing especially when conveying difficult information.

  1. I’m very accepting of others thanks to being different myself

Picture of Zoe Hughes, content writer, by Charlotte Hueso
Picture by Charlotte Hueso

I’ve had so many clients cringe in embarrassment when I’ve asked them what they need because they don’t know, or don’t understand how blogging and pinterest can work for their business. I’ve had so many apologies because a client hasn’t read my proposal before our meeting, or needs to rearrange due to childcare issues, etc.

I don’t expect you to know and understand everything and although being autistic means I’m a stickler for meeting deadlines, that’s for me. I know that real life can get in the way and prevent my clients from always being able to get information to me on time, or give me the thumbs up to the latest blog I’ve written for them.

I’m a disabled business owner and a human being. That means I’m friendly, I try to be approachable (although the autism can make me seem aloof and disinterested, it really isn’t the case!) and more importantly, I don’t expect you to be perfect. If you’re running late for a meeting after the school run and need to eat breakfast during our catch-up, that’s perfectly fine with me.

I’m the content writing and Pinterest specialist so if you’re talking with me about your business, I don’t expect you to have all the answers. If you did, you wouldn’t be coming to me for help. You might know what you want or need, but don’t stress it if you don’t. It’s my job to listen to what your problems are, identify where content marketing can solve those problems and come up for a strategy to make that happen.

Being an autistic business owners gives me some unique or heightened traits that you’re unlikely to find easily in other content writers and Pinterest managers. So, if you are looking for someone to help you with your content marketing strategy please don’t be put off that I’m autistic, you might find that it gives me just the thing you’ve been looking for.

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Zoe Hughes

Zoe is an experienced content writer with a genuine passion for crafting creative content for websites to help businesses of all shapes and sizes gain a strong web presence and rapport with their target audience.

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