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People with Disabilities 

Q  What surprised you about owning your business?

A Each entrepreneur had unique surprises and some common ones. As mentioned earlier, several said that they were surprised by how much marketing effort it takes to get a business going. In many instances, they have to remind their busiest customers to schedule a new service call or buy additional products. One Internet retailer said that he thought running his company (e.g. bookkeeping, paying the taxes) would be the most difficult task. Instead, he found that marketing "ate up" his time. Repeatedly, these business owners said that networking is the key to success and that the amount of time and effort invested was truly surprising. One individual captured this reality by suggesting it was "not my ability, but my availability" that helped the company grow.

Others said that, to their surprise, funders were largely opposed to the idea of business ownership and recommended wage employment. In each case, the
individual had to explain why company ownership made personal and professional sense. This included how the business accommodated their disability or passion.
They also had to demonstrate why their vocational ideas would be profitable. One person replied, "Frankly, it is surprising that more people with disabilities are not self employed. It makes perfect sense for so many people."

A young lady who thought the rehabilitation system would embrace her business idea offered a unique perspective. She was challenged with multiple hurdles, because her mother would act as her primary support. The professionals argued that a business should be independent, not interdependent. She reasoned, quite eloquently that, "The system has staff turnover. My mother isn't leaving me." Over the years, she's proven that family support is a valuable ingredient to her success.

One owner was surprised to learn that he was charging too little for computer repair services. He thought that his low price would bring in work. "Some chicken is better than no chicken," he said. But, when he was forced to raise prices to cover expenses, he realized that the increase brought respectability to his business. Evidently, his new prices are in line with customer expectations, because he just got a contract with a major Fortune 500 company!

 


 

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Page last updated: October 11 2013

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