Self-employment and entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly popular career choice for people with disabilities. While working in established businesses can often be challenging, self-employment allows disabled people to structure their work around their needs, leading to a more flexible and ultimately fulfilling career. Such business opportunities allow people with disabilities to move towards financial independence and greater life satisfaction.

If you or someone you know is a disabled person looking to become self-employed, start a business, or operate a franchise, there are lots of resources available to help you get started.

1. Starting Your Own Business

Starting your own business can be an exciting time, but it comes with a lot of work and responsibility. If you’re completely new to the world of entrepreneurship, It’s important to speak to enterprise experts about the requirements and challenges of starting and running your own business. Luckily, there are lots of resources available to help with planning, registering, and starting your own business.

This page tells you all you need to know about how to start and legally register your business, including registration requirements and contacts for local, state, and federal agencies.

The official website for the National Chamber of Commerce for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. The Camber’s mission is to help persons with disabilities and their caregivers to form and grow businesses.

JAN offers a range of resources on entrepreneurship for people with disabilities, including publications, articles, blog posts and events.

SBDC advisors help current small business owners and those that hope to be business owners in the future with a variety of services, including free or low-cost consultation and training services. This search engine can help you find your local SBDC.

2. Government Incentives and Benefits

There are various government incentives for people with disabilities

This page offers accessible formats for important IRS documents, including Braille-ready files, large print, or browser-friendly HTML. You can also request paper copies for delivery.

A fact sheet on tax provisions available to small business owners and disabled people. They include tax credits for installing accessible architecture to premises and for providing jobs to disabled people.

A page describing the tax credits and deductions available to businesses that employ disabled people.

A list of business grants available to self-employed people with disabilities, including advice on requirements and how to apply for grants.

Explains how to claim tax credit and deductions for complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

3. Writing a Business Plan

When you’re starting a business, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. This starts with writing a business plan that sets out what your business does and how, its corporate structure, the costs of starting and running the business, and more. A detailed business plan is not only a helpful guide for the business owner, but is also valuable evidence to show financiers in order to secure loans, grants, and other forms of financing.

An introductory guide on what a business plan is and how to write one, including examples of different business plan formats.

A business structure is a legal and financial concept that is important for your tax identity. This page details the different business structures and which tax forms each structure needs to fill out.

This article runs down the top 5 things to consider when writing your business plan, from cash flow to management.

4. Becoming Self-Employed

Becoming self-employed is a big decision with many pros and cons. Being an entrepreneur allows you to live and work independently at a pace you’re comfortable with, which makes it an excellent option for many disabled people. However, it can also bring with it its own difficulties and stresses.

An introduction to self-employment, outlining the pros and cons of setting up your own business, statistics, and tips on how to get started as an entrepreneur.

A downloadable guide with ideas on introducing entrepreneurship education into youth programs, as well as suggestions of how to introduce self-employment to young people with disabilities.

A 2013 report on the START-UP initiative, a project designed to identify policies and practices that challenged or supported people with disabilities setting up their own businesses.

5. Vocational Training

Entering the workplace, whether it’s as a job applicant or as someone self-employed, requires certain skills. Many people with disabilities may find they haven’t been given the opportunity to learn these skills, making it much harder to live and work independently. The following resources are designed to help people with disabilities learn key skills to help make their transition to independent living easier.

The Ticket to Work program is a free and voluntary program that helps people with disabilities improve their earning potential and move towards financial independence.

The MRC helps support individuals with disabilities living in Massachusetts towards living and working independently. This includes vocational training, transition services for disabled youth, and disability benefits.

6. Franchise Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Franchise opportunities are when a company authorizes an individual to carry out defined commercial activities from an established business. Examples of franchises include business like McDonalds, Ace Hardware or Planet Fitness. Starting a franchise business gives you some of the advantages of being an independent business owner but with built-in marketing, training and support for entrepreneurs. Some franchises can also be run from home, making thema  flexible choice to fit around your needs.

This 2002 paper from the University of Montana describes some of the benefits and drawbacks of franchising for disabled business owners.

An annual list of the top 100 franchise businesses with information on minimum cash requirements and how to request more details.

Conclusion: Make Business Work for You

Overall, the best advice for disabled people looking to get into business is to make your career work for you. The flexibility of self-employment can help you fit your career around your needs and lifestyle, allowing you to come financially independent in a comfortable and sustainable way. On the other hand, running a franchise can give you a structure to help support your entrepreneurship and build your skills as a business owner.


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