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The Disabled Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business

Share! 10/22/2018

People with disabilities have higher unemployment rates than people without disabilities, according to BLS data. While some disabilities prevent a person from working, other people with disabilities face unemployment because they can't find work that suits their needs. For people in the latter scenario, starting their own business is an attractive prospect.

As an entrepreneur, a person can design their own workplace, hours, and duties to match their abilities and limitations. However, starting a small business is no small feat and a person with limited work experience may feel intimidated by the prospect.

To assist on the journey to self-employment and self-sufficiency, this guide breaks down what people with disabilities need to know about starting their own business.

Choosing a Business Idea

People with disabilities shouldn't feel limited in their choice of business. Some people with disabilities may prefer to work digitally, while others love to work with their hands. Some may enjoy working alone, whereas others thrive interacting with clients and colleagues. There's no limit on the type of business an entrepreneur with disabilities can start as long as it factors in their individual strengths, interests, and abilities.

Designing a Business Plan

Before starting a business, entrepreneurs must ensure their business idea is viable. Individuals should complete market research to assess the demand for their product or service in their intended market and ensure they can sell that product or service at a profitable price.

People with disabilities must also consider how their own capacity fits into their business plan. If they'll be the sole employee of the business, the business' projected output must match the business owners' ability to produce. Individuals whose disability is unpredictable should hire employees who can keep the business in operation when the owner is unable to work.

Writing a business plan is the best way to address these questions. Through a business plan, the entrepreneur can detail the operations of their business and ensure it's an idea worth pursuing. However, be sure to include marketing in the business plan. At minimum, any modern business needs a professional-looking website so customers can find and learn about the business. To learn what it takes to create a great website that's attractive, easy to navigate, and converts visitors into customers, check out online guides like this one from Reputation Sciences.

Choosing a Workplace

For a person with disabilities, an accessible workplace is a must. Unfortunately, the cost of renovating a brick-and-mortar business for accessibility can be high. Many people with disabilities also face transportation challenges that involve getting to and from an office.

Entrepreneurs with disabilities can overcome these obstacles by starting a home-based business. Assuming their home is already modified for their disability, a home office bypasses the burdens of remodeling and commuting. Many businesses can be operated as a home-based business (Good Financial Cents lists 67 possibilities). However, it's important to ensure the business doesn't violate zoning ordinances before choosing to operate out of a home.

Accessing Financial and Educational Resources

Self-financing a start-up is the simplest way to get a small business off the ground. However, many people with disabilities lack sufficient capital to start their business. To access outside funding, entrepreneurs should look to bank loans, angel investors, and/or crowdfunding.

Some entrepreneurs with disabilities may qualify for special financial and development services. These are some organizations that provide assistance to business owners with disabilities:

For local resources and financing options, individuals should contact their closest Small Business Development Center.

Starting a business is a major endeavor regardless of disability status. However, people with disabilities may face additional challenges when starting a business, particularly when it comes to funding. However, with determination, drive, and a strong business plan, people with disabilities can find success and fulfillment in the world of small business ownership.

Guest Blogger
Patrick Young
Founder of

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