Self-employment has long been an option for individuals seeking a new or better career. And today, many individuals with disabilities are turning to the flexibility self-employment offers in assisting them to meet both professional and financial goals. Starting one's own business can offer similar flexibility, allowing people to make a living while maintaining a lot of latitude in choices such as work hours, nature of tasks, and income. As a result, ODEP encourages and supports self-employment and entrepreneurship among individuals with disabilities and has 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 these alternatives to traditional employment.
The following resources provide more information about self-employment and entrepreneurship:
- Entrepreneurship Resources — Information about self-employment and starting a business from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free service of ODEP.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) — Federal agency that provides assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
- Assets for Independence (AFI) Program — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program that enables community-based nonprofits and government agencies to implement and demonstrate an assets-based approach for giving low-income families a hand up out of poverty; programs may include training on starting a business.
- Road to Self-Sufficiency: A Guide to Entrepreneurship for Youth with Disabilities — Guide that shows how entrepreneurship education can be implemented and offers suggestions on how to introduce self-employment as an option for all youth, including youth with disabilities.
- Encouraging Future Innovation: Youth Entrepreneurship Education — Fact sheet describing benefits of entrepreneurship as a career option for young people with disabilities.
- SCORE Small Business Mentors — Seasoned business professionals help entrepreneurs start businesses, grow companies, and create jobs in local communities. Find a SCORE location near you.
- Self-Employment: What to Know to Be Your Own Boss — Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on self-employment.
- START-UP — ODEP initiated START-UP, a three-year grant project, in 2007 to identify policies and practices then in place that either made it difficult for individuals with disabilities to become self-employed or supported them in becoming self-employed. As part of the initiative, three states (Alaska, Florida, and New York) were awarded grants to pilot new innovative models for assisting individuals with disabilities to start businesses. A fourth grant established a national technical assistance center, Self-Employment Technical Assistance, Resources, & Training (START-UP/USA), to provide information and guidance about promoting self-employment for disabilities to the state grantees, as well as serving as a national resource for individuals and agencies wanting to pursue self-employment goals for people with disabilities.
- Self-Employment for People with Disabilities (PDF) is the final report of the START-UP initiative. It describes the barriers experienced by the four grantees, the self-employment models tested, the achievements of the grant programs, and case studies of several individuals with disabilities who successfully became self-employed. The report also makes recommendations for adoption by agencies and individuals for realizing self-employment goals.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) — SBDC advisors provide aspiring and current small business owners a variety of free business consulting and low-cost training services.
- How to Write a Business Plan — Online training course from the Small Business Administration explains the importance of business planning, defines and describes the components of a business plan, and provides access to sample plans and resources that can help you develop a plan for your business.
- USA.gov Start Your Own Business — Resources to help you start your own business, including information on programs to help military veterans and minorities become entrepreneurs.