The word entrepreneur means “bearer of risk.” In the purest sense of the word, a person builds a business with their own hands and using their own money and resources. They take on a risk for the purpose of making a profit. Not every venture is successful, of course, but with effort and wise decisions, the entrepreneur can build a successful business.
The process of starting a business isn’t easy for anyone, but for those dealing with physical or cognitive disabilities, the prospect can seem even more daunting.
Where’s the best place to begin?
Programs and Organizations Offering Assistance
The following resources provide a rich selection of information and contacts who are set up to help guide the business-startup process. With their help, any individual with disabilities can take the initial steps in creating a business.
Disability.gov — Disability.gov’s Self-Employment section has a lot of good resources on starting your own business. This online resource is loaded with guides and newsletters connecting you to information to help navigate the possibility of starting a business.
Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network — Provides entrepreneurs with services designed to assist in creating a successful business venture, from the initial business concept to ongoing help. “Since 1995, EDN has provided support, inspiration, networking, and learning opportunities to thousands of entrepreneurs with disabilities,” the organization reports.
Department of Labor — ODEP, the Office of Disability Employment Policy, encourages and supports self-employment and entrepreneurship for people with disabilities. It’s helped foster an array of partnerships at the federal, state and local levels to encourage access to funding and resources to assist individuals with disabilities interested in alternatives to traditional employment.
Virginia Commonwealth University — Worksupport is an online portal that highlights funded projects on many topics related to the employment of individuals with disabilities.
Small Business Development Association — This is a national directory. The link focuses on Ohio resource partners that can help guide and support small businesses.
U.S. Small Business Administration – The federal agency that aids, counsels, assists and protects the interests of small businesses provides a page of resources to help people with disabilities start and finance a business.
There are countless stories of great business leaders who have overcome disabilities. For example, consider this list of the 30 Top Entrepreneurs who were known to have had dyslexia – the list is filled with famous names like Henry Ford, Charles Schwab and Richard Branson.
In building your business, you don’t have to focus on your disability. But if you have a valuable perspective to bring to bear on a particular topic, coupled with your personality, it is possible to carve out your own personal brand.
Tommy Edison, The Blind Film Critic, is just one example. He hasn’t let being blind hold him back from fame and success. He offers entertaining critiques of movies, told from the perspective of a blind person. On his TommyEdisonXP channel, he also provides very open answers to his audience’s questions about life as a blind man – answers that typically challenge many of the wrong assumptions people have about blindness.
With creativity and effort, anyone can build for themselves a career that is tuned to their abilities and aspirations. In today’s information economy, there are infinite possibilities.
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