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Resources for Disabled Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

Jul 30, 2020


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One of the greatest perks of living in America is the ability to hone a creative idea into a business started from scratch. Anyone with the right mindset and a smart product can make the dream happen. People with disabilities may feel like they have a steeper hill to climb, but that is not necessarily the case.

In fact, there are many resources available for entrepreneurs and current business owners with disabilities that can help you plan your business, find appropriate funds, and obtain the perfect office setup. Let’s look at resources unique to you that can help you get your business going strong.

Utilize Nonprofit Resources
If you are an entrepreneur with a great idea, but you feel like you need some help to get your company off of the ground, remember you are not alone. There are many helpful nonprofit resources you can turn to that can provide business guidance to you. The American Association of People with Disabilities was created by business persons with disabilities in order to pass on their knowledge and experience to students and fellow entrepreneurs. They provide scholarships, internships, and business awards to members. If you happen to be an ambitious student who’s already developing your business plan, one of the AAPD internships can offer a clear path to entrepreneurial success.

No business should be built without a solid plan. This detailed strategy will help you figure out everything from development and advertising to your individual method of pitching yourself and your product to investors. You may already be utilizing individual government rehabilitation programs or disability funds, and it will be crucial to understand how to separate those programs from the ones intended for your business. You can reach out to consultants who specialize in working with entrepreneurs with disabilities in order to choose the proper business structure, such as Limited Liability Company versus S-Corp, and other unique challenges to keep business and personal separate.

Organizations like Job Accommodation Network provide endless resources including consulting and technical assistance so you can properly operate the technology you need to develop and sell your product. If you need assistive technology to operate computer systems, they can connect you with providers of advanced services.

Secure Funding
Now that you have a plan in place, you will need to find the money for development and marketing, a difficult task for any entrepreneur. The great news is that there is a slew of programs available specifically for business owners with disabilities. There may be a lengthy process involved, so apply for money sooner rather than later. When it comes to securing funding, consider applying for grants before loans. This allows you to maximize the funds you can secure by minimizing the amount you have to pay back in the future.

A first stop should be the National Association of the Self-Employed, where you can apply for grants of up to $4000 each as well as get input from the experts on anything from taxes to marketing. Veterans with disabilities who are looking to start businesses can check out the Small Business Administration, where they can apply to compete for at least 3% of all federal contracting dollars for certain projects.

If you still need extra capital after securing a grant, then you can look to the many available loan options. The Small Business Association also guarantees loans from private lenders so you know that you will not have to deal with shady business dealings. These loans are often for those with good credit. Those with less than stellar credit can apply for short-term business loans that provide the funds you need for now as you build that credit.

Fill Your Space
Now it’s time to set up your workspace. As an entrepreneur, there is a good chance you will be working from home, so you have the freedom to set up your space exactly as you need and want it. For instance, if your mobility is limited and you use a wheelchair or a mobility scooter, you’ll want to carefully consider the details of your desks and tables. How high should they be for your comfort? Do you need them to tilt? Or raise and lower — or even move around the room? If you will be working with clients who will visit your office, and this is your first time setting up this sort of workspace, ensure first that you have seating for them and second that there is ample room around all furniture for both you and your visitors.

Lighting is another important factor when setting up your office. Not only is proper lighting necessary for tasks, but allowing more natural light into your workspace has actually been shown to improve productivity. In addition to your windows, have an overhead light plus supplemental task lighting like a desk lamp. If your movements are restricted, make sure all switches are within reach, or that they can be turned on and off with speech.

Modifications can also be made to computers, so those with sensory impairments can be equally productive. Those with limited vision can use screen enlargement applications or enlarged keyboards to work. Entrepreneurs with hearing impairments can use closed captioning or screen readers. It is important to note that business owners without disabilities should still have these options available so disabled employees can do their part with ease.

In the end, remember that a disability is not a disadvantage. The world thrives on small businesses, so we need you to get that bright idea off of the ground. Utilize the available tools and turn your dreams into a reality.

Meet The Author:


lukesmith

Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger.
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Courtesy of NASE.org
https://www.nase.org/about-us/self-made-nase's-blog/self-made/2020/07/30/resources-for-disabled-business-owners-entrepreneurs