I’ve been in the entrepreneur space since 2007, and it wouldn’t be a lie to say that I’ve struggled most of that time. I’ve listened to coaches and webinars, free summits, and podcasts, and there’s one thing I realized…most of that information is geared toward someone with 1) time 2) money and 3) an innate knowledge of how marketing/lead captures work.

Guess what? As a neurodivergent person, and undiagnosed for most of that time, I had no time, limited funds, and no freakin’ idea how marketing worked. Sure, I have the mechanics of lead pages and email list flows and theoretically what a sales page looks like, but how to put those together with the magic words to make them convert — still trying to figure that one out.

So, I did what you’re supposed to do. I’ve contacted multiple small business incubators. I’ve went to S.C.O.R.E. (Service corps of retired executives) functions. I’ve spoken with the small business incubator locally that’s a stand-alone entity, and I’ve spoken with the Missouri small business incubator that’s affiliated with the SBA (Small Business Administration) and our local community college. Thinking being in a small-ish town was the problem, I’ve also spoken with the incubator affiliated with the four-year college I’m currently attending. Surely, I thought, as a disabled, queer, non-traditional student they’d be clamoring to help me to build a business. I check a lot of their boxes. And yet again, I was turned away.

Most small business incubators are geared toward businesses that need structural help, funding in the form of loans, or renting monthly office space in which to work. Both the local and the small business incubator associated with my college also offer coworking space if you need to go somewhere with access to high speed internet and some amenities, but don’t need an office of your own. Since I live in rural Missouri, reliable high speed internet that’s unmetered, is important. So those small business incubators can help some businesses, but for most neurodivergent folk who are starting their own business, they offer nothing.

In fact, I was only comfortable “outing” myself to the larger town’s incubator because it was a large town and associated with my college. I had ways to seek restitution if my outing myself caused harm to me or my business. In the small town where I live, where many business owners are outwardly homophobic/transphobic — I wouldn’t dare say such a thing. And since it’s on my website, and I’m proud of it. I’m pretty much barred from seeking local help.

I’m not alone.

However, the biggest challenge, I, and many other neurodivergent people face, is that these incubators are geared toward neurotypical and allistic people. Explaining marketing, for example, in a way my mind can grasp without sounding like a gimmick or a game–they can’t do it. Understanding executive functioning issues, the need for body doubling, or the systemic ways in which neurodivergent people are excluded from many forms of support, the neurodivergent person asking for help might as well be speaking a foreign language–because we are.

Which leads me to think? What would an incubator, a place filled with support and community, for neurodivergent business owners look like to you.

For me I’d like it to have the following:

  1. Marketing explanations which don’t rely on allistic tropes or allistic ways of doing things. Because a lot of the autistic people working in similar areas to me sure sound neurotypical in the social media tactics they use and their social media presence. If we want true wellness, true liberation, we need to unmask as much as we’re able. And that means not faking it online.
  2. Access to support services like peer groups simply for asking questions or venting (and not getting ignored or brushed off). Access to body doubling and encouragement.
  3. Access to seed funding. Even grants of $500 or less would be AMAZING to most neurodivergent business owners.

That’s to start. I’d love it if you could tell me what you’d include in a neurodivergent business incubator. What do YOU need?