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5 Tips to Help People With Disabilities Become Small Business Owners | Ed Carter

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

by Ed Carter

Though federal law makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in the workplace, they continue to be underrepresented in the workforce. According to a government report, only 17.9% of Americans with disabilities were employed in 2020. Especially for parents with disabilities, balancing a career with raising a family

can be challenging. Starting your own business can be a solution to the problem of finding employment while allowing you to care for your children. If you are considering becoming your own boss, these five tips can help.

1. Start a Home-Based Business

Transportation and mobility barriers can make it difficult for many people with disabilities to enter the workforce. If this is an issue for you, running your business out of your home can help you avoid many of these obstacles as well as give you more flexibility in child care.

2. Utilize Online Resources

Online resources, such as the Office of Disability Employment Policy, can offer you assistance in starting a small business, finding a mentor, getting financing and low-cost training, and writing a business plan. The Small Business Administration site also has a wealth of information related to starting and running a small business.

3. Research Grants and Other Funding Options

According to Zenbusiness, one of the main reasons why small businesses fail is the lack of sufficient funding. The federal government offers grants specifically for people with disabilities who are starting a business. Additionally, you can check with the SBA and Department of Health and Human Services for grants that are open to a variety of

different types of small businesses and business owners. Your local chamber of commerce can be a good resource or information on any grants available from your local community. Competition for grants is high, but because you don't have to repay this funding, they may still be worth pursuing.

Nonprofit community lenders, such as Accion, are another option. Some states have their own lending programs designed to help business owners with disabilities with startup costs, assistive technology, and more. If you live in a rural area, a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture may be a possibility. Additionally, some lenders offer loans specifically for purchasing assistive technology. 

4. Research Your Market

One key to starting a successful business is market analysis. Analyzing your intended market helps you determine whether there is an audience for the products or services you intend to sell, how large that market is, and how profitable it is likely to be. Knowing your market is the key to both getting your business off to a good start and continuing to grow once it is established. Staying on top of the market as you grow lets you adjust to shifting market trends and the changing needs of your customers.

5. Choose a Business Structure

Another important start-up task for any new entrepreneur is choosing a business structure. Many small businesses operate as sole proprietorships. This structure is easy to form and allows you to maintain full control. However, you could be held personally liable for any debts your business accumulates. A limited liability company is more complex to set up but provides protection for your personal assets and other benefits.

Starting a business as a parent with a disability can be a challenge, but it can also be rewarding. Whether you have always dreamed of being an entrepreneur or you are trying to overcome barriers to joining the workforce or raising your family, these tips can help you get off to a good start.

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