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Business Resource for People with Disabilities

According to the US Census Department, twice as many small businesses are started by disabled individuals than those started by non-disabled individuals. The big advantage to starting your own business is the ability to set your business up to accommodate your disabilities. While there are pros and cons to starting your own business, many disabled individuals are succeeding as entrepreneurs. The key to success in your own business is having a strong support system in place. There are many challenging decisions to be made and the more you surround yourself with a network of people and organizations that can help answer questions and guide you in the process, the more you increase your chances of successfully starting and maintaining your own business.

There are several organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce for Persons with Disabilities that offer resources and network opportunities for individuals wanting to start their own businesses. Organizations such as state vocational rehabilitation agencies also offer resources to assist individuals in either finding employment within the business vector or becoming entrepreneurs. Time spent getting to know these and other resource groups is time well invested in yourself and your future business venture. There are often other resources available locally. A good idea is to contact your local chamber of commerce or business bureau and ask what resources they recommend.

When you begin planning your own business, there are many factors you need to consider. It can be a daunting task just knowing where to begin. The Small Business Administration offers guidelines for new entrepreneurs. You can visit their website to download a handy checklist, find a mentor, and ask questions about starting a small business. They even give you a list of twenty questions you should ask yourself before you decide if owning and running your own business is right for you. The SBA is there to help increase your chance of success in your new venture! They also can help you track down other resources, assist in obtaining local or state licensing, and recommend ways to set up your business structure.

Finding funding for start-up costs can be a challenge for any new business. There may be private loan options that the SBA could direct you to in your area. The Abilities Fund is an organization that offers financial education with the goal of helping you understand what it takes financially to start and maintain a successful small business. They also offer financing to qualified disabled entrepreneurs. It is always a good idea to consult with a business accountant or take advantage of the resources on the IRS website regarding tax guidelines. Familiarize yourself with the Americans with Disabilities Act to check what rights and incentives this act provides for your business. As you consider financing, now is a good time to make sure that you are informed of tax regulations as well as other state and federal regulations that may apply to your business venture.

Failing to comply with regulations regarding business licenses and permits is a common mistake many new business owners make, especially those setting up a home based business. Depending on your location and the nature of the business you choose, operating a home based business may not be possible without special permission or a conditional use permit. Zoning varies so be sure to check your city's business licensing bureau for guidelines and options. Other permits or licenses you may need might include fire department permits (if handling flammable materials), sign permits that state the size and location of your business signs, and a resale or state sales tax number. A health department permit is usually required if you handle the preparation, sale, or shipping of food items. Obtaining the correct business licenses and permits can be a frustrating and time-consuming task but taking time to get all the necessary permits and licenses properly in order before your business is open will save you possible fines, penalty fees, or even the loss of your business later.

The following links will provide information to help you explore your options in networking with other successful disabled individuals in business or joining the growing community of successful disabled entrepreneurs.