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People with Disabilities 

Q What was the most important support service that you received when starting your business?

A Several of the entrepreneurs mentioned start-up money as the most critical element in their being successful. Funds typically came from a combination of family loans or gifts, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) funding, resources from the local One-Stop (e.g., individual training accounts), and capital from a Social Security Administration PASS (Plan for Achieving Self Support). This money purchased tools, equipment, inventory, personal support (e.g., job coach), transportation, and training.

The support services available from state Mental Health and Developmental Disability services were also reported as critical for many people’s success. Another important support function was having access to trained personnel who helped with business planning [e.g., Small Business Development Center or Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)], benefits counseling, and extended services largely provided by the Mental Health and Developmental Disability systems. One individual, in particular, gets limited coaching supports weekly, and this coaching helps him learn new skills of value to his customers. Overall, this group of entrepreneurs said that they would encourage policy makers, funders, and local agencies to increase their capacities for assisting people with disabilities in starting businesses.

Several people said that they have employees or contract for business support services including accounting, production assistance, and transportation or delivery. These services are paid for through company profits. Two owners noted how important these services are to them, since they cover the cost themselves and do not have to rely on an agency.

Finally, one successful business owner forcefully stated his thanks for the services that he received. He said that he lost his job and his life “fell apart” at the onset of his disability. Vocational rehabilitation and the local Community Rehabilitation Program (CRP) “saved me.” They provided business coaching, money for certification, and business planning. They were “terrific and encouraging. I would do anything to pay them back.”

 


 

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Page last updated: October 11 2013

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