Disabled-Owned Start-Ups Are on the Rise

People with disabilities are discovering a bright future for themselves with entrepreneurship. When self-employment means working from their home, a controlled environment already in place, it’s easy to see why the trend in business ownership among those with disabilities is expanding. Or creating an accessible brick-and-mortar business designed for their needs is becoming popular as the growing number of disabled veterans in the workplace has grown.

The Workforce Development Board of Southeast Minnesota is a nonprofit organization that connects people with the resources they need to find and gain meaningful employment. They are dedicated professionals who bring you the following ideas for how to start your own home-based business.

Getting Started

Like any business start-up, it all begins with a business plan. This is a document that lays out, in detail, expectations for how the business will be organized, funded, and staffed. What kind of inventory and production is involved as well as the kind of funding needed to launch, produce, and market the business. Marketing plans, goals, and expectations should also be included. Not only is a business plan essential as a blueprint for entrepreneurs to follow, but is required if you expect funding, grants, or loans.

How the business is structured, sole proprietorship or LLC will help you decide what kind of rules and laws will govern your business. An LLC is preferred by many entrepreneurs since personal assets are protected that way, as well as giving business owners a reduced tax burden. Rules vary from state to state, so checking with Minnesota for your local requirements is advisable. However it can all be done yourself, so you won’t need to hire an attorney.

Funding for business owners with a disability come from a variety of sources like the Federal Government, The Small Business Administration, and The Department of Health and Human Services. If you’re an artist, contact The National Arts and Disability Center. For general information, you can always contact the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Getting Going

What kind of business a person with a disability might undertake is almost as limitless as for those who are 100% able-bodied. The limits of your disability don’t have to limit your dreams. If you want a business that stems from a hobby, like playing the violin, that could become a violin repair and restoration service. If you’re multilingual, a home business as an interpreter is one that pays well. A catering business could stem from the love of baking or web design as a business rather than something you do for friends and family. In fact, going back to school online for an IT degree can be the perfect first step. Having a degree will allow you to expand your business into areas that you may be limited to otherwise. It can also be an asset when seeking funding or grants. The advantage of getting your degree online means you’re not limited by the accessibility, or lack thereof, of the local college or university, plus you can take classes to fit your schedule and your business hours.

Keeping Going

Whether it’s a wedding and event planner, an art teacher, or an electronics repairer, make sure it’s something you love doing because you’ll be investing a lot of time and money into it. Also, make sure you’re not pushing your limits, (we all have them in one way or another) or burnout will result, especially if your plan is to grow your business outside the confines of your home where your environment is already suited to your needs.

You may even begin a business that serves others who have the same or similar limitations or special needs. No one understands their needs better than a person whose experience is the same.

Going Strong

Keep costs down by using as many online resources as you can to help your business thrive. Templates for making your own business cards, invoices, and other marketing materials can save you a lot of money for professional designers and printers. Use low-cost marketing strategies like in-person networking through chamber of commerce and business-to-business events. Social media marketing usually gives you your data analytic results for free in any of your promotional campaigns.

Having a disability does not have to keep anyone from having their dream of business ownership. With the rise of technological advances in aids for those with physical limitations, more awareness of the need for accessibility, and an understanding of the value of shopping with disabled-owned businesses means the sky can be the limit.

Submitted by Sarah Velasquez

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