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People with Disabilities 

Q What were the major challenges to getting your business started?

A One challenge expressed by most of these entrepreneurs was lack of support from professionals for self-employment. Interestingly though, these same professionals listened and learned alongside the owners. Today, these initial "skeptics" are their supporters and are assisting other individuals with disabilities in starting businesses.
Start-up funding was certainly a concern, but was not seen as the biggest challenge. The issue of benefits planning seems universal, and several of the business owners noted that having a Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS) was critical to their success. Several of the business owners mentioned that they did not have much in the way of business skills (e.g. sales, bookkeeping) before they started, but that they learned by doing. They also noted that they are artisans first and business people second. Managing the business is sometimes better done by others (i.e., accountants) so that the owner can concentrate on the daily operations and production. The ability to pay for such natural supports became an integral part of these companies' pricing and costing structures.

Those interviewed said that after several years in operation, assistance with new equipment, taking advanced training, or changing their product or business model to keep up with new customer demands is difficult. They felt that the service system is better prepared to handle start-up concerns than it is for extended supports. Several people recommended that a good support system, thoughtful planning, and saving for business expansion is essential for success.

Several of the entrepreneurs noted that technical training to become certified or to learn specific skills are crucial to maintaining a business. Consistently high quality customer service depends on knowing how to perform the essential tasks without mistakes or wasted materials and time. Mistakes cost money; so being proficient in the core business duties, or having support to get jobs “out the door” is very important.

 


 

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Page last updated: October 11 2013

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