3 Tips for People with Disabilities Starting a Small Business — TIPS by Patrick Young.
Patrick Young is an educator and activist. He believes people with disabilities must live within a unique set of circumstances–the outside world often either underestimates them or ignores their needs altogether. He created AbleUSA.info to offer helpful resources to people with disabilities and to provide advice on navigating various aspects of life as a person with disabilities.
3 Tips for People with Disabilities Starting a Small Business
People with disabilities often experience more frequent situations of discrimination, unemployment, or underemployment than the general workforce. If you are a person managing a disability, this might sound all too familiar. You may feel hopeless, able and eager to work, but with fewer opportunities. One solution is to start your own business.
When someone with a disability starts their own small business, they have the chance to bring in their own income without having to navigate the limitations of a traditional job. With all of the digital tools accessible today, productivity and profitability are well within reach of a person with a disability. As long as you have the passion, entrepreneurs with disabilities have plenty of potential. Here are a few tips to help you find success in your own business endeavors.
Ignite Your Passion
Understanding the kind of business you want to own starts with blending your professional experience with your personal goals. For example, if you worked in information technology (IT), you don’t have to start from scratch — you can open your own company as a consultant. However, if you did not enjoy working in IT, you may be ready to branch out into a whole new field — and that can feel overwhelming. If you are:
- An outgoing people-person, consider starting your own business in real estate. There are many helpful guides online to get you started.
- Passionate about your crafts or hobbies, consider selling your wares on your own website or an online retailer like Amazon or Etsy.
- Looking to make an immediate profit, consider opening a business that is currently trending, such as technology or social media.
Once you know what kind of company is right for you, you can begin to develop a solid business plan. There are a lot of important elements that you’ll want to plan for, such as registering as an LLC, deciding on a brand, and understanding your tax responsibilities. In fact, taxes are only one financial component you should learn about because there are special tax programs to assist people with disabilities. Getting start-up funding is another.
Fuel and Fund Your Goals
There are several options for financing a business, and many more aimed at providing support for people with disabilities. People with disabilities can apply for:
- Specific grants based on the disability they live with. For example, there are grants for people with mobility issues, low or no vision, and mental health concerns.
- Small business loans you can apply for, like the Abilities Fund. Keep in mind that a grant is something you don’t have to pay back — a loan you do.
- Applying for a small business credit card that has a low introductory APR, offers cash back opportunities, or discounts on purchases that can help with your home office.
Financing a small business is an art as much as it is a science. For example, you can open your company up to investors, which is especially helpful if you are producing a new or revolutionary product. However, your number one financiers will be your customers, so you need a plan to get people in the door from day one.
Next Level Customer Service
Customer service isn’t a luxury — it is a necessity in today’s competitive world. Building a loyal, repeat customer base is about providing next-level personalized service, no matter your industry. Get your customers or clients through the door over and over again by:
- Being easy to communicate with and responding quickly and with empathy.
- Offering incentives for coming back.
- Understanding and responding to their specific needs.
- Showing that you are reliable, dependable and trustworthy.
Taking good care of your customers is one of the most effective ways to carve out a positive name for yourself and your business. You can have the most creative advertisements in the world, but nothing comes close to the marketing value of word of mouth.
There are a lot of reasons that people step into the world of business ownership, but for a person with a disability, there may be a lot more motivation — and a lot more on the line. There are nearly 30 million small business in the United States, and with an average of 2,000 new ones popping up every day, will yours be one of them?