Starting A Small Business With A Disability: Where To Begin


Photo via Pixabay by StartupStockPhotos

It’s not unusual for people to find they’ve hit a plateau in their careers, or that they just aren’t as happy with their chosen profession as they expected. Others might wonder whether they could make more money doing something they love. Often the answer is yes. Due to advancements in technology and accessibility, starting a small business when you have a disability is much more attainable now than it was even 10 years.

While there’s no one specific formula for having a successful business, there are several ways you can get the ball rolling in your favor, no matter what your abilities are. The key is to have a solid plan and support from the people around you, as well as the friendship of other small business owners who can help you with the details.

Consider the business

You may already have something in mind you’d like to do, but if not, it’s important to consider the type of business that’s best for you and your needs. While it should be something you enjoy doing, you’ll want to think about whether making it a career will take the joy out of it down the road. Perhaps you have a hobby that could potentially be a sustainable career; can you see yourself doing it every day for the foreseeable future? Is it something that can be taught to employees, or will the bulk of the work fall to you?

Where will you work?

You’ll also want to think about whether the business is something you can do from home, and whether that’s something you want. Working from home is the ultimate dream for many Americans, but it’s not as easy as one might think. Setting your own hours means you have to be doubly vigilant about getting things done, and you have to be careful about not letting your work time bleed into your personal time. On the flip side, it can be the perfect setup for an individual who is living with a disability, because you don’t have to worry about a commute or negotiating time off for doctor’s appointments and other responsibilities. It’s especially ideal if you have a service animal or a pet who provides comfort and assistance to help you get through the day. 

Boundaries at home

Starting a home-based business does require a workspace, so this should be part of your planning. You don’t want your kitchen table or bedroom to function as your home office — that’s a recipe for burnout and increases lack of work-life balance. Even if it’s just a small space in your home, you’ll need to carve out an area dedicated solely to your business. In this event, part of your startup costs might need to include having an office area built, which can be accomplished for not very much money by hiring a handyman. Another option is to move into a new home with more space. If buying a new home is in your budget, search for houses with a spare bedroom or basement space that could be used for a home office.  

Do your homework

It’s highly beneficial to do some research when it comes to other businesses in your area, particularly if they will be competition in any way. Check out their business model, their hours of operation, how they use sale days to drum up business, what their advertising budget is. Some of these things you can suss out on your own, but there’s no rule that says you can’t simply talk to the owner to get a feeling for how they’ve done things and what they learned. Finding allies in the community will help tremendously when it’s time to get your own business up and running – competition or not. 

Finding funding

You may have a million-dollar idea on your hands, but without  the right funding, you won’t be able to get it off the ground. Think about how you want to finance your small business. Finding investors is one way to go, but if you have a disability, you may be entitled to a grant or two. Read here for more information and look online for details according to your state.

If you decide to take the plunge and start your own business, remember to take it easy on yourself in the first few months and be patient. It will take a lot of time and effort to make any business work, but with a solid plan and the drive to succeed, you’ll be able to do great things.

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