The Best Advice for Starting a Business When You Have a Disability

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Starting your own business is challenging. Thankfully, as someone with a disability, you are used to meeting and succeeding when it comes to challenging situations. Here are some ideas for getting started in a new venture.

 

Questions to ask yourself.  New business ventures aren’t for the faint of heart. While chances are you are used to navigating difficulties, you need to decide if you have what it takes to be prosperous in a new endeavor. Investopedia recommends taking a personal inventory before jumping in. Ask yourself these questions to decide if you are ready start your own business:

  • Am I self-disciplined? You need to be timely and meet deadlines with nobody else setting your schedule.
  • Am I frugal? You must set a budget for your business and stick to it, saving for lean times and unforeseen expenses.  
  • Am I humble? Sometimes a client may be very demanding, and some are downright rude.  You need to be able to accept criticisms, whether you earn them or not.
  • Can I manage paperwork well? Good record-keeping is the underpinning of success. You must track your data to be responsible, to forecast needs, and to communicate well with your clients.
  • Am I a good communicator? Consider whether you can talk effectively over the phone, answer emails and texts, and conduct in-person meetings. If you aren’t adept, hate doing those things, or are frequently misunderstood, you may struggle with developing a client base.
  • Can I maintain motivation? If you are easily bored, disappointed, or sidetracked, you may have trouble managing your own business. You need to be able to find your drive, even on difficult days.

Finding a fit. When you’re starting a new business, finding the right fit is a key to success. Sometimes you may be sure you’re ready but unsure of what will fit with your lifestyle or budget. One idea is to step into a side gig. Side gigs offer flexibility and freedom so you can tailor your schedule to suit your needs. They’re a great way to try a new role on for size without a hefty financial risk. Find something you are interested in and have the appropriate skills to do. For instance, if you’re great with animals, you could board dogs or provide pet sitting services. Or maybe you have a favorite school subject and can provide tutoring services. Are you multilingual? Translating languages is another terrific side gig. Contemplate what you are good at and explore your options!

Create a space to reach your goals. A lot of businesses get started at the kitchen table, but eventually, you’ll need a workspace to call your own. Not too long ago, you needed an entire office to compass everything you needed to run the show, but nowadays, a small, quiet, and distraction-free area of your home is all you need to succeed. Of course, you’ll need a good business computer, a printer/scanner, and some functional office furniture to round out your space/room, but once you have everything in place, all you need to do is focus on the task at hand. Before you know it, your productivity will shoot through the roof.

Develop your customer base. Finding new customers and keeping them coming back is an important component to successfully growing your new business. AZ Central suggests using some simple tools:

  • Create a customer loyalty program. With a loyalty program, you reward a customer for return business.  For example, you can give a discount, a free product, or a dollar amount after so many transactions. This can be as simple as a card you stamp for purchases, or you can track it in a database and email rewards to customers.
  • Referral program. Along the same lines as loyalty rewards, you give incentives to those who send you new customers.
  • Use social media. Create a page for your business and talk it up!

Finding funding. They say it takes money to make money, and if your work starts taking off, you may decide you need to secure funds to achieve your goals. Chron explains there are a number of special funding options you may qualify for as a business owner with a disability.  The federal government offers several options for grants, and there are private organizations with funding as well.  Check with the U.S. Small Business Association at SBA.gov, Grants.gov, FedBizOpps.gov, and GrantsNet (hhs.gov/grantsnet).

Be a boss! As someone with a disability, you are used to meeting and beating challenges.  Ensure you’re ready to start a business, find a great fit, develop your customer base, and secure funding if and when you need it to grow.  With these smart strategies, you can achieve success in your new venture!

Text: Jenny Wise