Ellen Cole, Owner of Little Seed Group
Award-winning marketing, PR and social media services that help businesses to grow, blossom and thrive
My careers advisor was the first person to suggest I had dyslexia. She spotted something in the way I expressed myself with words and gestures. I was 22 years old – halfway through a Masters degree and determined to prove her wrong – so I went for all the tests. Shockingly, she was right. No help was available throughout the rest of my course due to my age and no coping mechanisms were put in place to help me thrive.
After finishing my studies, I was advised to stay in a steady job and warned to expect challenges with having a learning difficulty. The way I see it, I’m differently abled. Once you understand your strengths, you realise dyslexia is an incredibly powerful tool in business. It helps you see things in ways that other people don’t.
I went into marketing and worked in several places where I thrived, but I wasn’t happy. I had an urge to set up my own business and completed a year-long course through a dyslexic mentoring scheme. I didn’t follow through though… Instead, I listened to loved ones, who worried about the lack of security, so it was even more upsetting when, at my last employed position, I was given 48 hours’ notice that the business was closing.
I’m not religious, but it felt like a sign: ‘It’s my time to go full-time freelance’. I dusted off my business plan and made a list of all the businesses I wanted to work with; then I wrote a personalised letter to each one. I used my last £10 to print them off and, with no money left for the bus, I walked into town and hand-delivered them.
Within two weeks, I had a full roster of clients. Three years on, I’ve never looked back. I’m upfront about having severe dyslexia and my own ways of working, but my results speak for themselves. I’ve won multiple awards; turned businesses around at risk of bankruptcy; and secured my clients national and international press coverage.
More than 50% of NASA employees are dyslexic. If you’re shooting for the moon, it pays to bring people to the table who think differently and empower them to succeed!
Photo credit: Chris Marriott